Archive: Nov 2015

Mortgage Intelligence Industry Update: Insurance Tax Premium Increase

Sally Laker looks at how insurers’ recent hard work could be undone if they pass on the Chancellor’s premium tax increase to consumers.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in his summer Budget that, from November, insurance premium tax would increase from 6 per cent to 9.5 per cent. This is a rise of almost two-thirds: a jump that has received a mixed response from industry experts.

Osborne justified the change by highlighting a recent fall in insurance premiums, with the cost of contents insurance alone falling by 8 per cent since 2014. He said that, despite the increase, Britain’s insurance premium tax “is well below tax rates in many other countries”. He assured us the Government would continue to make insurance better value for consumers, claiming the recent fall in the cost of contents cover was due to previous alterations.

The Treasury has suggested that, by 2021, ministers will have accrued more than £8bn from the tax changes. However, by far the biggest concern is that, although insurers pay the tax, the extra cost will be passed on to the consumer. The Association of British Insurers calculates the new rate will add £9.48 to the average annual household insurance policy.

Osborne has confirmed that the increase will be added only to general insurance products, which account for just a fifth of all premiums. However, it is this fifth that needs to be encouraged wherever possible. I am concerned the important cover that consumers need will be further pushed out of reach due to price, and the public will be tempted into not protecting themselves at all.

This change has come at a time when cheaper premiums and more comprehensive value from insurers had started to re-energise the industry. At Mortgage Intelligence, we feel this hard work could all be undone if insurers end up passing on the increase to consumers. UK insurance premium tax may still be relatively low but, with so many under-insured, the need to incentivise remains high.

If you would like to join our award-winning Mortgage Network as an appointed representative or become a member of our Mortgage Club, contact our Broker Support Team on 0845 130 7446 opt 1.

Mortgage Intelligence Insight: Technology on advisers’ minds for 2016

Sharon Mawby, head of sales and marketing at Mortgage Intelligence network, takes a look at why technology will be a big focus for appointed representatives and directly authorised advisers over the next 12 months.

A recent poll has revealed that over half of mortgage and insurance advisers feel technology is “extremely important” in today’s market, whilst only 3% felt it was “unimportant”. But in an ever-changing digital world, I feel it is also important not to underestimate the ability for consumer needs to alter quickly and to consider some of the technological challenges facing advisers in the next few years.

Fighting off the competition

Many experts see embracing technology as a big challenge for appointed representatives and directly authorised advisers in 2016, with preparation and flexibility key if financial planning starts turning to alternative platforms. As Head of Sales and Marketing for an AR network and DA Club, I recognise that right now advisers are as busy as ever. But if the tide turns and competition with direct to lender and comparison sites increases, it is a good idea to be ready for the needs of the next generation.

Although client retention and referral is still the engine that drives adviser-introduced business, making your name heard in today’s online market is a constant challenge. It is very common for consumers to “virtually” approach advisers through the internet first, to get a taste of who they are and what they do, even when recommended by a friend or family member.

Securing an online presence

A professional-looking and easy to use website is a powerful tool to attract business, with more consumers approaching companies online first. Many advisers are adapting to changes in consumer habits, investing in user-friendly sites that also deliver alternative forms of contact and communication, such as online forms and FAQs. Using technology and software to ensure good customer management and effective segmentation is key, to help advertise to and contact the right people efficiently, allowing you to spend more time with clients.

Social media is still very much a subjective consideration, especially in terms of return on investment and reputation management. According to research, although two-thirds of advisers regularly use social media, only half use it for business purposes. But embracing formal social media platforms such as LinkedIn is becoming very popular, and more advisers are finding not only new business, but important networking and referral opportunities appearing. If you are thinking of taking the plunge into the world of social media for you business, it is important to plan ahead and ensure that you know exactly what and who your target audience is.

Preparing for a possible future?

No-one can exactly predict the future, especially when it comes to changing technology. But there are many experts that feel the move to “robo-advice” is an area that many advisers should now be considering. Recent regulatory changes, such as the Financial Advice Market Review, has seen lender and adviser innovation opening up the opportunity for consumers to get their financial advice virtually and online.

Although general surveys suggest consumers still opt for face to face advice for big financial decisions, times can change quickly. Leading lenders such as Nationwide are expanding remote mortgage advice to hundreds of branches and several advisers are also beginning to offer virtual appointments for their clients. As the consumer demographic becomes more tech-savvy, they will in turn most likely become more comfortable with online advice, which means advisers with the most flexible and customer-focussed approach will continue to succeed.

If you are interested in joining our award-winning Mortgage Network as an appointed representative or becoming a member of our Mortgage Club, contact our Broker Support Team on 0845 130 7446, option 1.

Mortgage Intelligence Insight: Five great ways for advisers to offer added-value to protection

National Protection Sales Manager at Mortgage Intelligence Bernie Buron picks five policy options and benefits that appointed representative and directly authorised advisers can use to offer their clients that little bit extra on their protection policy.

In an unprotected nation, providers are working hard to deliver benefits and extras as part of their policies, to not just reward via discounts and premium reductions, but in some cases incentivise consumers to live a healthier lifestyle. I have picked five policy extras in 2015 that really add value to protection and can help you encourage clients to fully embrace their protection needs:

Friends Life Global Treatment

One of the more unique and bold policy extras, Friends Life Global Treatment sees the provider teaming up with Best Doctors, offering policyholders the chance to access the best diagnosis, advice and treatment in the world. As an additional option on any Protect+ cover, your client or their children can have access to “top medical minds and leading overseas treatment”, if diagnosed with one of many serious illnesses.

Aviva provides access to Grief Encounter

A great example of protection extending beyond simply financial cover, children of anyone covered by an Aviva life insurance policy will receive access to Grief Encounter. This support service helps bereaved children affected by the death of a parent or loved one, deal with emotional issues such as grief, fear and confusion.

Bright Grey’s Helping Hand

Bright Grey believes that to stand out from the crowd, a provider needs value-added benefits at its heart. That’s why they have included Helping Hand to all their menu and relevant life plans. This comprehensive package of third party suppliers (such as oncology nurses, speech and language therapists, bereavement counsellors and physiotherapists), is designed to deliver practical and emotional support exactly when your client needs it.

Vitality Optimiser

An optional extra available to add to all protection plans, Vitality Optimiser offers policyholders rewards and discounts that can, in some cases, reduce their premiums through living a healthier lifestyle. Policyholders can enjoy upfront premium discounts, which drop even further if they actively improve their health over the policy term. This is not including the other discounts and rewards on gym memberships, cinema tickets and travel.

Free Children’s Critical Illness cover with Legal and General

If your client gets critical illness cover with their life insurance policy, then Legal and General will automatically include children’s critical illness cover. Although not unique among providers, Legal and General will also include Child Accident Hospitalisation Benefits, Child Funeral Benefit, Childcare Benefit and Family Accommodation Benefit as part of the cover, making it a comprehensive offering.

If you are interested in joining our award-winning Mortgage Network as an appointed representative or becoming a member of our Mortgage Club, contact our Broker Support Team on 0845 130 7446, option 1.

Mortgage Intelligence Insight: Three marketing trends advisers shouldn’t ignore in 2016

Whether appointed representative or directly authorised, advisers could benefit from staying up to date with the newest consumer and marketing trends. Sharon Mawby, head of sales and marketing at Mortgage Intelligence mortgage network, predicts three marketing trends for advisers to focus on in 2016.

Content is King

Content marketing has been the focus for many marketing departments in 2015 and this is set to continue. Brands are becoming publishers and marketers are becoming writers. The quickest way to get to your customer’s heart is through content. It helps to establish authority, gain trust and it’s a great SEO boost for your website.

Developing content, whether online or traditional is still a great way to pro-actively engage with clients. Creating thought-leadership through blogs and comments on social media can build trust and further develop your brand as a forerunner in the field. Having a good content strategy for 2016 will help ensure your continued success in the long term.

Mobile Matters

The need for a marketing focus on mobile users is still hotter than ever and so is the importance of responsive design for your websites and emails. You may have heard of “mobile first”: a shift in consumer behaviour that sees more than 50% of people primarily reading emails on their smart phones.

An overwhelming 80% of mobile users also delete emails that are not optimised for their smart phones. Not long ago, mobile friendly communications and websites were something of an added bonus. But now optimising for mobile devices has become a necessity and a valuable investment for the future.

Connecting with Clients

In an ever-changing digital world, more and more people are embracing online interaction and using new technologies to make decisions and do business. An estimated 46 million people in the UK will own a smart phone by 2018, creating an ever-increasing opportunity for brands to be connected to their customers.

People enjoy investing their time and money with people they know are on their side, so humanising your brand and relationship marketing is going to be more important than ever before. Developing strong, emotional customer connections to your brand helps drive word-of-mouth promotion and lead generation.

If you would like to know more about how to join our award-winning Mortgage Network as an appointed representative or becoming a member of our Mortgage Club, call our Broker Support Team on 0845 130 7446, option 1.