November 2019 | General Insurance

Charlotte Harrison: From the mediaeval reformation to protection

Charlotte Harrison is product manager at iPipeline

Like most history graduates I knew straightaway that insurance was the only industry I wanted to work in. It was a no brainer to take the small step from studying the mediaeval reformation to advising on home insurance and then on to protection technology. It’s obvious, right?

Since graduating eight years ago and becoming fully embedded in the world of insurance I have worked at four different companies and have made a sideways move into product management all in a relatively short space of time.

To some, four companies in eight years may seem like quite a few different jobs and my career path may even seem a little random, but for me it is the standard process amongst my friends and family.

I’m surprised when someone my age is already on track for getting their longevity of service award. It’s increasingly rare, after all job hopping can be a great way to a) get more experience and career progression and b) get more money quickly. And if I’m being honest, that second factor can be really appealing.

This job-hopping mentality is frequently seen in the under-35s with recent data showing that nearly half of those under-30 in 2018 planned to move jobs within two years and most didn’t see themselves staying at a company beyond five years.

There doesn’t seem to be an indication of this trend changing anytime soon with careers becoming increasingly varied and flexible.

But before we all merrily skip along to our next job in an exciting new company (the grass is always greener on the other side after all) there are a few things we perhaps forget to consider, a key one being income security.

Yes, that new company offers a dazzling salary increase, but what are your new employer’s benefits? Do you get the same level of sick pay? Is there a death in service benefit? How does the pension scheme compare? By moving companies are you making yourself more financially vulnerable without even realising it?

From experience I know when I was starting out it very rarely occurred to me to look beyond the headline salary.

There are obvious benefits to dedicating time to a company and building up that familiar safety net: accruing more annual leave, making your two-year redundancy threshold (just in case) and ensuring you are past the three to six month probation point so you can apply for a mortgage and gain that additional security.

However, nice and safe as this sounds it is no longer the reality for those about to enter the workforce.

The new reality is something that should be particularly relevant to those working in the protection industry.

Recent research shows that millennials are already thinking about protection, with 12% of consumers taking out a policy following a pay increase and the 18 – 34-year-old bracket now being the most likely to purchase a protection product.

iPipeline has seen this reflected in our figures with the under-30s now accounting for 18% of policies sold (up from 14% in 2015).

The protection figures are moving in the right direction but considering the vulnerability of this age group there’s still plenty more we could and should be doing.

The increase in career diversity means there are plenty of opportunities for advisers to start or continue that all important protection conversation.

Most people may only get married once or twice in their lifetime, women are having an average of 1.9 children and people are moving to a new house less than ever (once every 23 years according to Zoopla).

This means there are a maximum of five standout protection opportunities in a typical customer’s journey. That’s not much time for an adviser to build up a relationship and good level of trust with a client. In contrast to this it’s estimated that people can now expect to have 12 – 15 jobs across their career. That’s a lot of potential protection conversations.

Each job change means a different salary, a different amount the consumer needs to protect and probably a different set of company benefits.

With each job change the conversation about income protection becomes relevant to the client again to ensure that they don’t have a shortfall in cover.

So, while starting a family and buying a house are still the top reasons for purchasing protection, advisers should keep looking at the broader picture and start ensuring they are able to hook into the aspects of life that will keep the protection conversation relevant to their client.

Don’t just wait for someone having kids being the catalyst for them seeing the importance of protection, consider what other lifestyle choices are keeping protection consistently relevant and important to address.

We need to make sure we can both understand and accommodate the needs and drivers of those who are choosing a pick ‘n’ mix career rather than the traditional route of longevity in service.