Protection is not only for the man of the house
Tuesday 8 March was International Women’s Day – an opportunity to promote gender equality in all walks of life.
In our own market there has been considerable progress in this area but, unfortunately, we are not at a point of total gender equality; indeed, in some business areas there is much to be done.
For what it is worth, at our firm it has always been a priority – half of our board members are female, as is two-thirds of our management team, and we are committed to maintaining this gender mix throughout the network.
International Women’s Day got me thinking about financial services, in particular the protection needs of women, which, judging by recent research by Scottish Widows, are not being met.
For instance, the research reveals that only a third of women have a life assurance policy, only 8 per cent have critical illness cover and just 4 per cent have income protection insurance.
Why should this be? Of course, many couples have joint policies but, more and more, women are the main bread-winner in a household. What would happen to their family if their income was taken away?
Advisers clearly have a crucial role to play here. There should be a fully rounded conversation that encompasses the protection needs of each member of the household, individually and collectively.
The poor stats above are indicative of a male-focused protection system and an assumption that simply covering the man of the household is enough.
We must update our gender thinking in this space and not leave any family member under-protected.
The consequences of such inaction could be grave for all concerned.
Why stick with those same old suppliers?
In this industry I am often reminded of that scene in ‘Casablanca’ where Captain Renault, on finding a dead Major Strasser (shot by Humphrey Bogart’s Rick), asks his colleague to “round up the usual suspects”.
Within all our business models, we are often guilty of using ‘the usual suspects’ because, like Captain Renault’s group, they have been known to us for years, are easy to find and you (sort of) know what you’re going to get from them.
However, as advisers are you satisfied with using the ‘same old partners’ time and time again? Yes, there is a familiarity to that relationship, but remember the saying: ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’. Are you willing to allow your contempt to build before you move on to greener pastures?
We all know it is less hassle to stick with what we have but I sense an increasing commitment, particularly from the broker community, to at least look at the other options and then, if the benefits simply cannot be ignored, switch allegiance.
Talking to mortgage brokers every day about the conveyancing portals they use, I am surprised at how many are still using the ‘usual suspects’ when they could switch to, or at least try, one of the new breed of portals with relative ease – particularly when they may be able to access better service, pricing, technology or commission levels.
Part of our focus has always been on showing these advisers the alternatives, and not just for conveyancing advice but across the board, whether it be sourcing systems, network, packager, distributor…
Of course, change is unlikely to be delivered all at once. It takes time to carry out the due diligence and trawl the market for the right alternative.
However, taking these supplier relationships one at a time and working through them to their natural conclusion – stick or twist – should be worthwhile and ultimately offer much more, both to the firm and to clients.
Can tech prevent three-hour lender meetings?
Last week’s Mortgage Strategy had a significant technology focus and the argument for robo-advice will go on.
Technology will continue to have a place in the advice process but it cannot be the process in its entirety.
I suspect the biggest issue lenders face is the fact that their meetings are three hours long, with a waiting list often of up to six weeks. When a client finds a house and makes an offer over the Easter weekend, they cannot wait until May Bank Holiday to speak to a lender.