Cost-savings are only truly made when allied to a high-quality product. So what help is available for advisers to assess products in a sensible manner? Ian McKenna explains the technology.
The system integrates with the Webline portal for comparative quotes for the recommended product. Subsequently the adviser can then proceed transacting the business online, so that cover can be arranged swiftly.
Synaptic Protection, integrating qualitative analysis of features alongside price quotes, is £20 per user per month or £85 for a version that also includes the full range of investment products. (All prices in this article are subject to VAT.)
Defaqto’s Engage service does provide full product comparisons allowing the user to select the protection product features their clients require and compare the providers of their choice.
It does not, however, integrate to any of the pricing comparison services, so while useful, the process is clearly not as streamlined as the offering from Capita. The standard subscription charge is £105, with discounts for additional licences, and when advisers sign up through one of their affiliates.
Ask the expert
When it comes to critical illness policies, the most exhaustive product data comes from Alan Lakey’s CI Expert product. It enables users to compare critical illness plans based on the underlying critical illnesses covered and the depth of the definitions the client would be required to meet to make a successful claim.
When comparing plans, the system calculates a score for each plan, which is based on the critical illnesses covered, the likelihood of the client being affected by the conditions. For example, a 45-year-old man is more likely to suffer from heart problems, so plans with better definitions on these conditions would score higher.
It also identifies if the policy offers partial or full pay-out. Users can manually input the premium for each provider so that they can ascertain which company offers the best value for money although this is subjectively assessed by the user.
Where the providers being compared offer different definitions for the same critical illness, the system highlights this and rates the one with the better definition higher.
In addition, the service allows the user to view what each critical illness condition is and the percentage chance of someone suffering from it to allow the adviser to explain the relevance of each condition or answer questions on each condition if asked by the client.
CI Expert has a huge amount of historic data on critical illness plans that enable users to assess what critical illnesses providers’ covered dependent on the start date of the plan.
They can also identify when certain conditions were removed or added from critical illness plans and compare legacy critical illness plans to current plans. The system also includes claims data for those providers that are disclosing such information with the dates for each being provided on separate summary pages.
There is no shortage of protection specialist advisers singing the praises of this system. If an adviser is going to engage in replacement business in the critical illness market, it is widely recognised as being unparalleled. It does, however, cover only critical illness and there are no plans to extend this to include either life or income protection.
The pricing model for CI Expert is refreshingly flexible. Advisers can pay £90 for three months access, £160 for six months, or £280 for 12 months.
For advisers who do not want to have to pay for research software, my own organisation Finance & Technology Research Centre has built a free Product and Proposition research tool, which is being rolled out over the next couple of months. Advisers can register for access at AdviserSoftware.com.
The benefits of advisers being able to make a qualitative assessment when matching protection products to client requirements in addition to traditional price comparisons are obvious. Price should not be the sole arbiter of value and using technology as outlined above can make it far easier to carry out such detailed assessment.
Ian McKenna is managing director at the Finance & Technology Research Centre
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