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Insurers ‘must improve processes for non-protection focused adviser firms’

Insurers ‘must improve processes for non-protection focused adviser firms’

Insurers need to improve their processes for wealth advisers and firms who are not protection focused to provide more consistency and keep advisers more actively informed, research suggests.

The study by FTRC found that a particular priority for insurers should be integrating with the practice management and cash flow planning tools that are core to so many wealth advisers’ operational processes.

Many insurers often do not provide enough in-force policy information or functionality to make changes within their extranets or the core operating systems advisers use, the study found. Consequently, advisers will resort to calling the insurer directly whenever they require information or need to make a change, which is inefficient for both parties.

Meanwhile, a lack of consistency and consensus from insurers left many advisers confused, particularly with regard to where signatures are concerned. Whereas some insurers do not require a signature on trust forms for example, others accept an electronic signature or insist on a wet signature.

This leaves many advisers confused as to what is legally acceptable and as such nervous when putting trusts in place, the study said.

Universally, advisers expressed concerns that they are not adequately kept up to date by insurers, especially regarding claims processing.

Where a client or their family make a claim directly with an insurer, and the adviser who introduced the business is not notified, the adviser can be left in the very difficult position of being completely unaware or able to aid the client.

This could lead to extremely difficult conversations for both the adviser and client, the study warned. 

Ian McKenna, director of FTRC, said although the industry has moved forwards in many areas, there is still much that can be improved to help advisers provide as good an experience for consumers as possible.

“Many of the issues highlighted in this report have been a concern for advisers for many years and the conclusions should act as a call to action for insurers. Of particular note is that all advisers want insurers to be more proactive in keeping them informed across all processes,” he said. 

Jon Dear, chief operating officer – protection division of AFH Wealth Management, said there are a number of areas where insurers’ processes and systems could be improved to better support adviser firms of all shapes and sizes.

“For a wealth firm such as ourselves, we receive a lot data electronically from investment providers, however this is not replicated from protection providers on in-force policies, and as a result protection is far less visible for both advisers and their clients,” he added.