Published June 2020 issue of Money Marketing.

In a recent report conducted by NMG1, 78% of advisers are concerned by COVID-19’s impact on the advice industry. Advisers cited delays in completion of new business; proactive advice revenue decreasing; difficulty sourcing new clients; and policy lapses due to affordability as key business challenges.

Many clients do not have the financial means to survive even short periods without an income. But this bleak reality may present an opportunity for advisers as customers experience first-hand the financial strain such an interruption can have on their income stream. 81% of participating advisers in the NMG study1 believe that South Africans are more likely to see the importance of life insurance as a direct result of COVID-19.

Your business, as a financial adviser, is service-centric. Keeping your business afloat, or even thriving, does not have to depend on acquiring new clients. Now’s the time to shift focus on retaining existing business by offering optimal cover for each of your clients. People are fearful of the future. They want to feel you really empathise with them and care for their interests. This is key. Look for ways to start a conversation. Ask questions, try to understand their problems first. Talk about things that matter to them, not simply what you hope to sell. It’s these two-way conversations that open doors and builds trust.

How? You might ask.

Prioritise your clients’ insurance needs. FMI’s #RealityCheck Consumer Survey 2018 shows that 66% of South Africans spend up to R1500 each month on car insurance, yet the average monthly premium for temporary disability and critical illness would be just under R2002. Prioritising inappropriate cover is dangerous as the impact of a disruption to a client’s monthly income can be dire, not only themselves, but for those who rely on them too.

Where possible, try to optimise the cover they have in place and potentially reduce their premiums. For example, income benefits are more affordable than the lump sum equivalent, and cover your clients not only for permanent disability or death, but for illness and injury as well.

Talk to cash-strapped clients about their affordability options. Many advisers are concerned, and rightly so, about lapses. Not only for their bottom line, but it can be so much more difficult for a client to qualify for the same cover again, especially if their health changes. Almost all insurers have a variety of relief measures available to ease any financial strain felt by their customers and prevent lapses. Use this opportunity to connect with your clients before they default on their monthly premiums. 

You may be thinking, this is all well and good, but how do I provide great service to my existing client base when I’m unable to discuss these options face-to-face? Your relationship building skills have always been your competitive edge, and this has never been more relevant now. Use this opportunity to guide those clients who lack the digital know-how to use platforms like Zoom and Whatsapp video calls. Last, but certainly not least, never underestimate the personal touch a simple phone call can have to make your clients feeling supported. 

As the digital world facilitates more and more human connections, it’s your ability to leverage these connections and to guide your clients through the process, that will lead you towards success.

 

1- NMG Corona Pulse Report April 2020

2- Calculation based on average 30 year old male, non-smoker, net monthly income of R30 000.

3- FMI 2017 Lapse Report

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