Tackle the risk
Robo-advice vision: overlooking the insurance dimension

Boilerplate Unique

I was recently sent an article on the language used by some investment planners, and why its a bad idea to use it. Let's not worry about what investment advisers say, we have plenty of awful jargon in the insurance industry to be ashamed of. 

As you might have guessed from the title of this blog post 'unique' is one to be wary of. Promising to help a client with a 'unique plan tailored to meet your goals and requirements' might sound good to you. But it's kind of "boilerplate" unique. This kind of 'difference' is so standard, its no longer a difference. Do you really do that? How different are each of your insurance plans? How much do your recommendations really vary? Does your process really enable you to make that claim? If you are largely selling insurance for one company, and the plans look pretty similar... then, don't claim this. You may still be performing a very valuable service, but unique, it isn't. Having said that - do your clients even want unique? I get great comfort from buying a mass produced car, unique might be nice, but is it reliable? After all, insurance is about reliability, predictability, and certainty. Maybe those are the kind of words that you should focus on. If you are trying to point out that you are more flexible than, say, the bank, or life direct, or buying your cover from the back pages of the motoring supplement, then you should explain how what you do is better. If its difficult, then it might be a good opportunity to think about how to make it better. 

"Financial planning" If you know what it is, then great. If most consumers know what it is, I would be amazed. A close and similarly baffling cousin is "Insurance planning" that may very well be what you do, and vital work it is too, but most consumers don't think insurance is something that needs planning. It sounds dangerously complicated. If you want to explain to consumers that there are pitfalls for the unwary, and you can help avoid them: say that. "Insurance planning" is an 'insider' term, the words on your website should be for people that generally know little about insurance.

"Finding you the best insurance in the market" is another one. Obviously, I am interested in the business of comparison. Five people (not counting me) work for Quality Product Research to try and keep research on nearly every on-sale life and health insurance product up to date. If you use it, thank you, then you may be able to claim that you consider the whole market. But I have come across advisers that use no research at all - not ours, not a competitor's, nothing... and they still claim to provide the best cover. Unless they have a very large, hidden, research operation, I doubt it. They may be breaking the law against unsubstantiated claims. Besides, it's not just access to the data - you need to demonstrate that you are actually using it. If you want to tell consumers how many different insurers there are, and how hard it is to choose between them, and how you do it to make life easy for them - then say that. 

Sara Grillo's article at Adviser Perspectives on investment adviser word-crimes is well worth a look. She deserves the last word: 

"If you doubt anything that I’ve said, try this. Google “financial advisor [your local area].” Click on the first five websites that come up and you’ll see that they all say some combination of the same six things. If you find your voice drowned out in all the noise, ask yourself what you have done to set yourself apart."





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