Consumer expectations are changing fast.
If advisers are to keep their place in the value chain, they need to transform the way they deliver protection advice to a new demographic.
Otherwise they risk some other player coming in to take the market, whether they are from a financial services background or not.
To do this, the protection space could learn a lot from retail, a sector that has been honing its cross-channel approach to customer experience for years.
Take sofas as an example.
A relatively infrequent purchase that people take their time over, typically wanting to try before they buy.
You might think it would be too complicated to bring this kind of sales cycle online – but then Made.com, the company I helped build and scale, did exactly that.
Like sofas, life insurance is a considered, long-term purchase. But that does not mean this digital shift can not apply to protection.
Part of the challenge for advisers is how quickly the target market changes.
At the moment, millennials are high on the list.
In other words, people in their 30s with houses and kids and with a genuine need for personal protection – the same people who expect a lot from the brands they interact with, and who consume services (including financial services) online first.
Next up, it’ll be the Snapchat generation. Advisers will need to change at pace to keep meeting the needs of what is essentially a moving target.
The other challenge, of course, is that there is no obligation to buy life insurance.
It is more a should-have than a must-have.
Of those who do buy protection, it usually takes an adviser or some other prompt to raise awareness of the need. In this respect, protection is pretty unique.
The problem is how out of date the sales process feels, especially to millennials, making it tempting to disengage.
This is the part advisers really need to change – before someone else does it for them.
We all know the protection conversation is complicated and (necessarily) regulated, but with Google-grade tech, protection advice can be made instantly more accessible.
The right tech also makes it easy to trigger the conversation at the right time, in a more relevant way.
It is the gateway to providing a user-centric experience that meets the target demographic’s expectations, with advice presented in a way that is simple to understand and action online – at last.
What is more, it makes life much easier for advisers, as the process of picking out suitable products is simplified through automation, making the advisers more productive and the advice cheaper to serve.
It is true that insurers have a part to play in this too.