Back in the day, unwary drinkers who found the king’s schilling in the bottom of their tankard faced a lifetime on the waves. Others woke up at sea with a lump on the back of their head and a long voyage to endure. These days the Royal Navy relies less on deception and coercion to secure its recruits and more on promoting the lifelong benefits of signing up.
Given people’s inertia when it comes to purchasing protection products, navy-style press ganging of the unprotected majority may have a certain appeal. But it wouldn’t do anything to help lift public trust in the financial services industry from where it currently lies. The way forward is a better understanding of people’s circumstances and motivations, and in particular their attitudes to loss of income, whether through redundancy, serious illness, or some other family crisis – and to use that understanding to make the potential circumstances and consequences more immediate and real. Then, to offer appropriate, affordable, attractive solutions.
The Money Advice Service’s view is that appropriate protection is one of the key components of being properly prepared financially for life’s ups and downs. We have made helping more people become protected one of our principal business targets – but only when it’s appropriate for our customers. And then as part of a journey that also seeks to shrink unmanageable debts and grow savings. When a protection product is the right option, we look to take people as far as we can along the journey, providing salient advice and easy to understand information at relevant moments in people’s lives. As an independent and impartial body we don’t, and can’t, recommend specific policies. Instead we direct people to places such as the British Insurance Brokers Association and unbiased.co.uk as the next step to being offered an appropriate choice.
With nearly nine million people over-indebted and one in two finding regular bills and credit payments a struggle, it is no surprise that ‘tomorrow’ is not seen as a priority by the majority. Yet, with risk transferring from state to individual, the future needs to be moved into the forefront of everyone’s minds. In tough times, our core purpose is to help people stay afloat should life hit choppy waters, and we are keen to work closely with protection providers to do that as best we possibly can.
Mark is the Strategy and Innovation Director. Mark spent the first eleven years of his career at Unilever working across divisions in Sales, Marketing and Strategy. He then moved to The Royal Bank of Scotland where he headed up Customer Management and UK Marketing Operations. Mark then moved to BUPA before joining the Money Advice Service on 2 September 2011