While we have seen an upturn in all vacancies, it has been marked how the Conservative majority appears to have buoyed the protection market. As mortgage markets continue to be buoyant in certain parts of the United Kingdom it is clear that could explain some of the confidence but there is more to it than that.
RDR was a game changer for many of the product providers. In particular the life offices have been focused on building vertically integrated businesses. This is well documented in previous articles. However, they also recognise their unique position in being able to offer life and health protection products and are taking full advantage of that.
Whilst every provider cut down its product range many years ago, with many focusing much more on wealth and protection, there has been a marked change in attitude and protection is certainly no longer the bridesmaid. As the market has expanded most providers have re-entered or grown their protection business.
In the last few years we have seen plenty of new entrants or re-entrants including Zurich, Skandia (now Old Mutual) and more recently Scottish Widows. We have saw a brand new entrant, riding on the back of an existing brand (Vitality previously known as PruProtect). When they entered the UK market they took advantage of the Prudential brand, as well as purchasing Standard Life Healthcare to give them the leverage they needed. They have now separated from the Mighty Pru and re-named themselves as Vitality. There are rumours of other new entrants to follow as well as some more re-entrants.
Meanwhile in the adviser market, some of the big players have been focusing on protection. Some networks are protection only and others have a very big protection and mortgage arm. The Director of a leading distribution business recently told me they need to build up the assets under advice over time to build an ongoing income and value but they need to retain and build a strong protection business to “keep the lights on and pay the bills” while they are still building up the wealth offering. Others are choosing to live for today, operating mainly in the protection market where risks and liabilities are less of a threat.
Demand for protection advisers and BDMs is rising. Even senior staff are receiving more head hunt calls than they have for a long time.
We have seen new positions and replacement positions and also salary inflation among BDMs. We can only suppose that many companies were waiting for the election outcome before committing to new hiring.