Key findings of the Investment Trends 2014 Planner Risk Report

  • Planners are focusing more on life insurance and expect this to continue over the short term
  • Planners are expanding the range of insurers they use, but switching remains high
  • Zurich and AIA Australia has the highest satisfaction amongst its users
  • Underwriting is a key area in which insurers can differentiate their offerings
  • Users of XPLAN’s risk modules have the highest levels of overall satisfaction

In its eighth year, the June 2014 Planner Risk Report is an in-depth study of Australian financial planners’ usage of insurance. The study is based on a survey of 885 financial planners concluded in June 2014. This year’s study highlights a number of interesting trends.

Planners are focusing more on life insurance and expect this to continue over the short term

Recep Peker

Recep Peker

The proportion of planners advising on risk has remained steady at 90% over the last 12 months, and those who do are sourcing a greater proportion of their practice revenue from providing risk advice (29%, up from 27% in 2013). Looking forward, planners expect this trend to continue with risk advice accounting for 31% of their practice revenue by 2017.

“Risk continues to be a key component of many planners’ businesses,” said Investment Trends Senior Analyst Recep Peker.  “Providers can help facilitate planners’ intention to grow their risk business by addressing some of planners’ key challenges, chiefly high premiums, administration issues and inefficient processes.”

Planners are expanding the range of insurers they use, but switching remains high

After four years of planners consolidating the number of insurers they use, planners have started to expand the number of insurers they use. The typical planner now uses 3.7 insurers each, up from 3.4 in 2013.

However, levels of insurer switching remains high with 40% of planners saying they stopped using at least one insurer in the last 12 months, up from 35% last year.

“Insurer relationships are in a state of flux,” said Peker. “Planners are aggressively expanding the number of insurers they use, while cutting those who aren’t exceptional. There are great opportunities and risks for insurers to either benefit or lose out from this switching.”

Despite insurer relationships changing rapidly over the last 12 months, it is still crucial to be a planner’s most-used insurance provider. Planners currently write 59% of premiums through their most-used insurance provider.

BT Life, OnePath and AIA Australia posted strong gains in terms of primary market share. The top five insurance providers by number of primary planner relationships are now:

  1. OnePath
  2. AMP
  3. AIA Australia
  4. BT Life
  5. TAL

“Whilst planners are using a wider range of insurers, the market is also becoming more concentrated,” said Peker. “The top five insurance providers now account for 66% of primary planner relationships, up from 62% last year.”

Zurich and AIA Australia has the highest satisfaction amongst its users

“Satisfaction is crucial in the insurance space, as business is not very sticky and planners can easily stop writing new business with an insurance provider,” said Peker. “That’s why there is a very strong relationship between satisfaction and switching behaviour.”

Planners’ overall satisfaction with their most-used insurance provider remained steady at a high level. The top three insurance providers by overall planner satisfaction in 2014 are:

  1. Zurich
  2. AIA Australia
  3. Asteron Life

Underwriting is a key area in which insurers can differentiate their offerings

Following the tightening of underwriting standards over the last year, we’re seeing the average number of days planners say it takes providers to process underwriting submissions increase from last year’s levels. This has resulted in planners’ satisfaction with underwriting falling slightly at an industry level over the last 12 months.

“The underwriting process is the strongest driver of overall satisfaction with insurers,” said Peker. “So, any falls in satisfaction with the underwriting process is noteworthy.”

“Underwriting is very important for both acquisition and retention, and will be a key battleground for insurance providers over the next year,” said Peker.

45% of planners said insurance providers should focus on improving underwriting speeds to help them with their advice on risk.

Users of XPLAN’s risk modules have the highest levels of overall satisfaction

89% of planners who advise on risk use risk software. XPLAN continues to dominate the risk software space with over half (53%) of planners using XPLAN’s risk modules as their most-used risk software. This is followed by Rubik/COIN (18%) and Midwinter (8%).

At an industry level, planners’ satisfaction with their most-used risk software remained steady at the eleven-year average.

Among risk software providers, XPLAN achieved the highest average overall satisfaction rating from its users and ranked highest across all nine of the other service elements measured.

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