• Stuart Fowler

Restoring faith in savings industry: ABI has a plan

I’m not at the ABI’s London Conference today and the plan Chairman Richard Harvey talks about in the FT today isn’t on the published agenda. ‘The savings industry has work to do to win back the confidence of customers, consumer groups and politicians’, he says in his article. Anything insurers do to improve consumer satisfaction, contribute to consumer education and boost the product of the nation’s savings has to be welcomed. But insurance companies are manufacturers of financial products with service obligations that attach to the products and the contracts, not to people. In most cases they have no relationship with people because the economics of distribution have forced them to rely on third parties: brokers and financial advisers. They don’t even have the systems to support personal service: they have a hard enough struggle trying to get their legacy systems to support cross selling, (what management consultants call ‘customer relationship management’).

Their efforts may be welcome but they are not a solution. Insurance company chiefs have only to ask themselves: if consumers were well-informed (or simply streetwise), would they want to trust a manufacturer, would they buy the same products we’ve been selling them and would they pay the same price or pay the same way? It is the marketplace that will force change, but the unseen hand will be customer-aligned business formats that stand between manufacturers and customers.


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