Tom Conner tells us how and why Drewberry upskilled five protection advisers to also advise on PMI
Over the last year, Drewberry has been busy training five of our protection advisers so they can also advise on private medical insurance (PMI). There are some clear benefits of doing this but there are also some significant challenges. It's a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly.
Some of the benefits of having dual-trained advisers include:
- Advisers are more easily able to identify a need and desire for PMI and vice versa with protection
- The client receives more joined up advice on their health and protection needs (discussed below)
- The client journey is far smoother only having to deal with one adviser
- Ultimately, more clients end up enjoying the benefits of PMI and protection
From the last point above, it's clear that the business also benefits from increased sales. Yes, it's true that the client could have been referred over to a PMI (only) adviser but having a more detailed knowledge of PMI helps to broach the subject of PMI in the first place and there's always some natural spillage in any referral process.
When considering whether to upskill some of our advisers to also advise on PMI, there were clearly a lot of transferable skills that made the process easier, such as:
- They are comfortable discussing insurance needs with clients
- They are already trained to provide advice and know what that entails
- They already know how one insurance market works
- They are familiar with how insurance contracts typically work
- They already know our back office systems and processes
- Not a transferable skill but the knowledge they have on a particular existing client is most certainly useful
Not a walk in the park
Despite the many transferable skills, there were also some significant challenges, including:
- The advisers have to buy into PMI as a valuable product and the benefits of advising on PMI
- The adviser has to be willing to dedicate a significant amount of time to becoming an expert in another product range
- The business has to be willing to commit significant resources to training and development. There is also the opportunity cost of training time that could have been used to provide protection advice (and the sales that follow)
- You need to have advisers that are capable of becoming an expert in two product lines. It's hard enough becoming a real expert in protection alone and that's compounded by adding PMI into the mix. I don't believe it's possible to dual train advisers en mass, you need to have the right characters
- Once the initial training has been completed, it's essential to commit to ongoing CPD
Changing behaviours is another significant challenge. It's much easier to pursue something that's familiar than something new. A lot of work is needed to encourage the adviser to have those initial PMI conversations rather than just sticking to what they've always done.
Client case study: A familiar story
I wanted to share with you a brief case study of a classic client example that protection advisers come across time and time again.
Cristina was a marketing and brand manager for a large corporate but decided to strike out on her own, setting up a marketing consultancy. She used to have a range of benefits with her former employer including death in service, income protection and private health insurance that were lost upon leaving.
She was talking to one of her friends who was in a similar position a couple of years before and her friend recommended that she speak to Drewberry. Her adviser at Drewberry, Sami was able to talk through what benefits she had given up, identify her current needs and make recommendations across all three product areas.
Cristina ended up taking out a PMI policy with AXA (including cover for her 10 and 12 year old sons), relevant life insurance with L&G and income protection with LV=.
By being trained in both health and protection, Sami was able to reconstruct the clients benefit package in the personal market. The client only had to deal with one adviser.
Where a duel trained adviser can really add value
In the situation above the client was fortunate to have sufficient income to afford all three products. The benefits of using an adviser that can advise across both health and protection become very clear when a client doesn't have sufficient disposable income to fund all three types of cover as a detailed discussion is needed on which products to prioritise. It might be that the client initially enquired for PMI but after learning about the client, it may actually be more sensible to prioritise income protection and life insurance.
On the flipside, it's not uncommon for clients to enquire for life insurance when they don't have any dependents. In this case it might be more prudent to consider income protection and PMI. Each client's situation will be different and the advice provided will be far more joined up if the adviser is trained in both health and protection.
There are clearly some significant benefits both to the client and an advisory firm of having advisers that are dual trained to provide both health and protection advice, but it does take a big commitment from both the individual adviser and the firm, not only in terms of initial training but also in ongoing CPD. You also need to have the right people to make it work, those that are capable of becoming experts in both areas.
Tom Conner is a director at Drewberry