Barbara Cockburn looks at what the Life Insurance Association (LIA) can offer health insurance and protection intermediaries
What is the LIA?
The LIA is a professional association for independent financial advisers (IFAs) who give and support personal financial advice and it represents the interests of over 23,000 individual members.
The LIA was founded in 1972 “to unite the members of the profession into one general body…with the objective that membership of the association should be recognised as a hallmark of integrity, competence and a high standard of service”.
The incumbent president is Gavin Tisshaw who is strong on educational issues, according to John Ellis, head of public affairs at the LIA.
Who can become a member?
Membership comes from every sector of the industry from appointed or company representatives, IFAs, broker consultants, managers, trainers and supervisors. There are also major life offices, networks, IFA firms, investment houses, banks, building societies and friendly societies that are members.
Ellis says: “The LIA is like an insurance cooperative, with people sharing ideas, and there’s no thought of personal gain. That’s the spirit.
“IFAs lead a lonely existence because they are rejection-prone. Being part of the LIA will make them feel part of something.”
In 1997 it became compulsory for IFAs to pass practitioner examinations, although the Advanced Financial Planning Certificate is not a regulatory requirement.
The LIA works closely with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and the Society of Financial Advisers (SOFA) in promoting IFA examinations to its members.
Is it relevant for health insurance and protection intermediaries (who advise on products that have a non-investment element) to get involved in the LIA?
Ellis says that the LIA is a very “broad church”. He says: “People from all parts of the sector are members. Plenty write health insurance, they also work in the mortgage and other specialist areas.”
He explains that 20,000 members are active IFAs advising the public on financial products and estimates that around 13,000 offer a range of health insurance and protection products.
There are 35 regions across the country and each hold talks and workshops to discuss techniques on advising and selling to clients on long term care or marketing group life or group income protection and other health insurance subjects.
What does the LIA hope for the future?
Ellis says: “The Financial Services Authority (FSA) will regulate the whole of the financial services industry but it cannot monitor everything. We want to fill the gap here that articulates voluntary standards of self discipline.”
For more information, go to www.lia.co.uk