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COVID disruption sparks planners to make adjustments: survey

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Financial planners have responded to the business disruption arising from the pandemic by making changes to their risk advice operations, research house Investment Trends says in a new report.

About 80% of 524 planners surveyed say they have adjusted the delivery of risk services to clients. Some 30% are engaging more frequently with clients, 23% are scrutinising premium levels and a similar percentage are looking at service quality when selecting insurers. About 22% have accelerated the use of technology in the risk advice process.

“Financial planners are revaluating all aspects of their delivery of risk advice, from their insurer relationships and technology stack, to the way they communicate and demonstrate value to clients,” Associate Director King Loong Choi said.

“As planners help their clients navigate the pandemic, support from their insurers and technology partners will be crucial to lifting the quality of their risk advice.”

The research house says insurers that provided planners with extra support by sending business development managers (BDM) to help with issues and streamlined online processes were more highly regarded.

Some 61% of planners had listed rising premiums as their biggest challenge last year, ahead of compliance obligations (53%).

“When asked to describe in their own words how insurers helped them navigate COVID-19, planners most often acknowledged premium relief for impacted clients, proactive BDM contact and streamlined online processes,” Mr Choi said.

“Competitive premiums matter for planners and their clients in their choice of insurer, but it isn’t the sole factor.

“Planners highly value proactive support, meaning that insurers that provide quality BDM support, ongoing communications and quick turnaround times will stand out.”

In a satisfaction ranking survey, NEOS took top spot with 56% of the vote from planners, followed closely by ClearView (54%).