Making predictions for the upcoming year is always difficult, and particularly so in the tumultuous times we are living in.
However, looking at the trends and research from home and abroad, I believe there are several themes that will dominate and shape our protection industry in 2020.
If I can sum these up they are simply: be relevant; add value; and do less, not more.
As an industry, we have had the same products for decades.
While we do claim to ‘innovate’, this is often no more than adding additional features to existing products.
It is encouraging to see that we are starting to look beyond our core product sets and questioning the relevance of these.
Providers are now grasping the concept that our customers will live a multi-stage life, changing jobs more frequently, boomerang families becoming the norm and moving between home ownership and rental status.
We will start to see more mindful design of products and solutions in 2020.
The conversation is growing on whether critical illness in its current form is sustainable, but I think the conversation will move on to question if is it even relevant any more.
Hopefully we will begin to see more flexible solutions emerge that will allow customers to leap from protection of income to family and lifestyle with ease, without making them choose a product that they hope will cover their need when the time comes to claim.
The trend for value-added services will continue and there will be a demand for more tangible support before a claim is even triggered.
Our focus in 2020 is how we can make these benefits easier to understand and recommend.
The approach to tackling this should also include advisers fulfilling their regulatory needs to balance affordability, value, and acting in the best interests of the customer.
Furthermore, the sales process, and particularly the use of portals, will be vital in this shift towards a post Insurance Distribution Directive and Senior Managers and Certification Regime world.
Collaborating with advisers and our distribution partners to create solution designs will be key in clarifying what customer needs we are addressing.
Do less, not more
One of the consumer trends I would like to champion is ‘do less, not more’.
By this, I mean that we need to be smarter about our proposition design.
We cannot help ourselves– you only have to look at the proliferation of critical illness versions that we now bring to market.
We need to take this noise out of the system and focus in on solutions that offer clarity, are simple to recommend, but importantly address a real need.
In 2020, I believe we can continue to drive growth in our market by focusing in on one specific need in particular: how we offer more protected mortgages.