I suppose bankers should count themselves lucky when compared to the poor public perception that UK general insurance has had over the years.
To improve customer experience, the UK General Insurance marketplace has witnessed a raft of imposed regulation. Whilst well intentioned, the net effect of these ‘improvements’ has not always led to increased levels of customer satisfaction. Part of me feels that for the average buyer/user sitting on the top of a ‘Clapham Omnibus’ many of the changes have gone completely unnoticed.
It is against this backdrop that it was heartening to read Amanda Blanc’s Presidents letter in The CII’s Journal a few months ago in which she described the massive strides many insurers and brokers have taken towards institutionalising professional standards within their businesses. The list of general insurance organisations is impressive and includes Ageas, Allianz, Aviva, AXA, BIBA, CII, CILA, Crawford, Direct Line, Lockton, RSA, Willis, Zurich to name but a few.
It was refreshing to learn that the Professionalism Task Force, which it must be remembered, is for a change, an insurance market conceived initiative (supported by The Chartered Insurance Institute), were the original authors of the Aldermanbury Declaration. The good news is that this industry wide initiative is really starting to get traction with insurers and brokers alike. The signatories are committed to raising the bar and embedding best practice within their businesses for their clients’ benefit.
Obtaining professional qualifications and Chartered status is great evidence to clients of professionalism, attainment and quality, however, of themselves these significant achievements are arguably not enough and I think this is where the Aldermanbury Declaration fills a much needed gap.
Insurance buyers have never had such a bewildering amount of choice. Whilst this is a good thing, I sometimes wonder if the payback for this the hasn’t in some way hidden value and disguised differentiation. We have all witnessed the industry become increasingly commoditised and price focused. What about value and the investments made by insurance businesses aimed at providing a greater level of customer satisfaction.
The aspiration of many signatories of the Aldermanbury Declaration must surely be to deliver superior service and advice. In doing so this will undoubtedly help to improve their standing with their clients and help move them towards enjoying much talked about ‘Trusted Advisor’ status.
This seems like a great deal for participants in the initiative and their clients – a real win win.
Ours is an industry that has over the years seen its fair share of talking and not much walking, so hats off to the pioneers that had the guts to ask different questions and here’s hoping that many others see the light soon.