January is normally characterised as a quiet month, at best a bit of a ramp up into the spring. Well...
January is normally characterised as a quiet month, at best a bit of a ramp up into the spring. Well, not this year. This month has seen proof that the protection markets are holding up, the announcement of seismic changes in the way we will insure and medically treat the aged, and a real advancement in the plan for an industry-wide generic sales campaign.
Legal & General's inaugural quarterly survey of IFA confidence levels in the protection industry (page 10) shows that current and future sales opportunities, and type of product purchased are all stable or improving. Compare this with almost any other branch of financial services and it is clear this is the sector to be in. It is interesting that intermediaries are so upbeat in contrast to providers. Those I talk to are still pessimistic in their views of the future; personally, I tend to believe those IFAs working at the coalface.
Age discrimination has hit the headlines this month as well and is sure to have major repercussions for the PMI industry - some good and some bad but all likely to raise opportunities for IFAs selling into this market. The NHS is set, thanks to a new constitution and upcoming laws, to radically alter treatment of the elderly (page 9).
Both Richard Walsh (page 11) and the ABI (page 26) have picked up on this as a major issue for the future. If EU age legislation for goods and services goes through - and, as Walsh points out, there are many opponents - it will alter the way insurers' premiums are calculated in both protection and medical policies, and the way the NHS is funded: one to watch.
Last but not least, in this month's news fest is the announcement of a plan for generic protection advertising. It is a bit early to say the plan has borne fruit - we will have to await autumn's report - but there are definitely the first signs of spring buds, to push the metaphor. 'What does this mean for me?' would be a reasonable question. Well, the principle is that this campaign would generate public interest and it would then be up to individual advisory firms to formulate a plan to soak this up. To this end you will find, both this month and over the next year, plenty of features concerning marketing and business growth.
It's been a good start to 2009, no reason for it not to continue.
The news that the ABI and British Medical Association (BMA) agreement on GP report (GPR) fees has broken down will usher in a period of uncertainty.
Lack of innovation investment in the UK insurance market has been highlighted by recognition of RGA's work in the US.
Protection business in 2012 and 2013 will be affected by events this year and some fundamental changes to the way customers policies are priced into the next. Richard Verdin explains.
Employee assistance programmes are in the spotlight due to a schizophrenic approach by government. But as Sue Weir points out, they are backed by solid research.
How will people buy insurance in future? Greg Becker visits the US for developments in online distribution.