Online services not up to scratch

Providers are failing to meet IFA expectations with their online services, according to a survey of 400 advisers conducted by Defaqto, a UK’s leading product research business.

The online failure is creating opportunities for wrap providers to make significant inroads in the insurers’ traditional distribution base.

Defaqto used a unique methodology to interview IFAs over the phone asking their experience of insurer’s service based on an extensive list of 43 issues or qualification performance factors. The QPFs are chosen for their importance when considering the service IFAs receive from product providers.

Just two providers, Skandia and Friends Provident, did well in almost all sectors. The rest of the industry only performed well in certain sectors. A significant number of providers performed below expectations in most categories.

The QPFs results covering internet servicing make particularly depressing reading. Most of the largest players were found wanting. As the online channel is the mechanism through which service propositions might be transformed in the future this is not a good sign.

Companies generally performed well on measurements of website efficiency and E-transactions. However 11 out of 18 scored poorly for E-business efficiency. Out of 18, seven were rated poorly for website efficiency and 10 did badly for website value and usefulness.

Ben Heffer, associate director of Defaqto says: “The frustration of IFAs is almost palpable in the report. One of the most common comments from IFAs was the ineffectual nature of transacting online.

“This survey gives IFAs the ability to drill down and discover exactly where providers win and lose in the service stakes be it underwriting, technical services or commission administration. I am convinced this piece of work will become the yardstick by which providers will gain or lose business.”

The universally poor performance of some providers could be argued to indicate a lack of corporate commitment to quality rather than, problems with processing large volumes of work.