Firing line  

We would like to support the market's growth, Guardian's CEO

We would like to support the market's growth, Guardian's CEO

Simon Davis was introduced to the world of insurance at the young age of 15, rather unusually by the father of his then girlfriend, who sold life insurance door to door.

Fast forward almost 40 years and he has not just stuck with the girlfriend, who is now his wife, he has also stayed with insurance.

Mr Davis is now embarking on a venture to bring a new protection offering to the market under the resurrected brand of life insurer Guardian, which he claims will be very different to what already exists in the market. The offering aims to create a better process for advisers, which in turn will encourage them to have better and more conversations with customers about protection.

Mr Davis, chief executive of Guardian Financial Services, said: “We believe advice is important in this sector, in terms of life, income and critical illness, and we are not doing a direct-to-consumer play. We have created feature-rich products that enable the adviser to work with customers to deliver something that is bespoke to them.

“The advisory space has changed over the last 20 years. My father-in-law was an insurance salesman and he went door to door, selling life insurance, critical illness and income protection cover, and he did that for 20 years. So I’m steeped in understanding [of that sector]."

Mr Davis said in the past few years he has seen a concentration on helping people to build wealth, but not as much focus in the protection space. Additionally, the mortgage sector has also gone through much change.

With more onerous regulatory responsibilities this means having a face-face meeting to get a mortgage brokered could take three to five hours, which can increase by just as many hours when you add a protection sale.

Mr Davis said: “There has certainly been a tail off in terms of the number of protection products sold alongside mortgages because of the time spent with mortgages and advisers not wanting to corrupt the sale of the mortgage by messing it up on the protection side.

“Today, most people will insure their mobile phone, car, home or gadget, but they don’t think about what happens if they are too ill to work, and what will happen to their children, spouse or mortgage.”

Therefore, one of the main driving forces behind Guardian’s plans is to make the process simpler. This will result in less time spent on applying for the protection cover, intuitive questioning during the application process, more features, less documentation and faster payment times.

Mr Davis said this will also help advisers to build better in-house protection sales models.

Working with its capacity providers, Gen Re and Hannover Re, Guardian has developed a fully integrated underwriting process and built what he calls 'a one-stop question set’, which allows the client to be underwritten for all of the products it offers in one go. Development has so far cost £20m.