Tuesday, 22 July 2014

MPAF interview now live on line

My interview on the MPAF podcast is now live and available for download on iTunes (search for MPAF podcast) or you can listen directly from the MPAF site at :


You can also listen here at Localventure by clicking the play button on the top right of the page.

The podcast is all about inspiration ideas for finance professionals and during our chat Roger, the host of the MPAF podcast and I talk about all things PMICast - it's actually a pretty good listen so if you're interested in this blog, me, PMI, insurance or business (podcasting) generally I'd recommend a listen both to my episode and also to the other episodes of the MPAF podcast.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

**!* Public Service Announcement **!*

It is my birthday today.

No one is allowed to shout at me or be mean to me today.

End of announcement.

Thanks You.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Update blog post

There is not one but two podcasts in the PMICast stream (www.pmicast.podbean.com). First of all there is the usual weekly PMICast. This is episode 53 and it's the final one prior to me going away on holiday on the 24th. It's a slightly abbreviated version this week due to it being a bad week time wise but it has vital updates on a couple of issues so it's definitely worth a listen.

I've also uploaded a new episode of my personal non-business podcast : Afternoon Train - this is a train of thought podcast covering off issues of interest to me : work, comics, TV, SF and so on - try it out.

As I mention in this weeks PMICast I am away on holiday from the 24th of July until 11th of August. Whilst I am away I am available on the phone and e-mail as usual :

07792 075748


I will be able to provide client reports as usual so if you (or if you're an introducer) need a report and review I will be able to work within my usual turnaround times for this and also any issues or problems that may arise.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

New episode of PMICast (Number 52) available now !

Have just recorded and uploaded episode 52 of the podcast - on iTunes (search for 'PMICast') or listen on-line at www.pmicast.podbean.com

Have a listen if you're into business podcasting or insurance generally.

This particular episode ties in very closely to this blog so you need to read the last weeks posts to understand fully what I am rambling on about.

Enjoy !


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Gently 'Critiquing' Clients

When running a business one very quickly learns how flipping important your clients are.

Without them you simply don't earn money, you can have the best 'processes' or business idea in the world but without some prospective clients to push in at the top of your marketing sausage machine all you will get out is air not an income - obviously this is horrible analogy but you get the idea.

So in my honest opinion you really shouldn't moan about clients but in the interests of education today I am going to break that cardinal rule but only for the sake of ultimately helping them out.
But first let me dissemble slightly. My clients are generally pretty good - courteous, good to deal with and largely, they don't create too many problems.

Something seems to happens to both clients and prospects when it gets warmer. They start thinking about barbecues, summer holidays and sport (insert preferred item here from : World Cup/Wimbledon/Tour De France/Test Match/Common Wealth Games ad infinitum). As a result they do one of two things or both. Firstly they begin to focus on getting tiny, annoying issues off their desk before they disappear on holiday - I know I am the same.
This means for me the low level, easy to solve but  time consuming niggles begin to appear and eat into the day.

Secondly and far more frustratingly is that no one will sign and return an application form - I have literally never been so busy but clients will simply not send back their forms regardless of my gentle cajoling.

So here's a message to clients around the world, some of us are also going on holiday too and we need to sort your case out before we disappear so that your cover/contract/service agreement is in place when you go away on holiday.

Let me give you a case in point. I set up a plan for a client for 1st of June 2014 start date. The form came in fine and the plan is now up and running fully. He called me this morning at 9.30am to check he was covered for a leg injury he just suffered whilst away on holiday - I was able to re-assure him that as cover was in place there would be no problem and he can claim on his return.

Imagine for a moment that this person was one of the eight or nine clients from whom I am currently awaiting forms to put cover in place from 1st of July or August. I'm really not whining because I want to get paid on your cases (OK so I am a little bit) but mainly, if things go wrong and your cover is not in place because you didn't return my application form then it really is the clients fault and no one else's.

On a more serious note, it really is important to ensure you're covered and part of my job is to chase up these things to make sure everything is sorted and we can all go away on holiday with the peace of mind that nothing will go wrong.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A skeptical approach to medicine

In my 'day job' I am an independent FCA regulated adviser on private medical insurance advising clients in the UK and around the world. I have worked in this field since 1994 and as you might guess do a lot of work with clients on involved and technical plans covering a range of scientifically proven medical interventions.

Or so you might think.

Away from this day job I am what is termed a 'skeptic' - someone who wants, nay demands to see evidence for any given claim whether it be medical, scientific, stories in the media and so forth.

Is it surprising therefore that many medical insurance plans include a range of benefits for which there is absolutely no evidence for their efficacy. In fact I would go further. They cover some interventions which are in potentia quite harmful - in so far as using them without considering more effective treatments could result in harm as medical problems are left untreated.

I am of course talking about what can be deemed 'Complimentary and Alternative Medicine or CAM's.

Here's some extracts from insurers literature on this area :

£1,000 combined overall limit for therapists (physiotherapist, osteopath and chiropractor), acupuncturists and homeopaths charges.


f you’re suffering from back or neck pain, food intolerances or other general ailments, your GP or specialist might refer you to a therapist. Therapies we cover include:


Physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy
On specialist referral

These product literature extracts are from three of the largest UK private medical insurers and as you can see all three of them would cover between them :

Chiropratic treatment, Osteopathy, Acunpuncture and Homeopathy.

The problem is, these are clinically ineffective therapies that do nothing beyond acting as a placebo (incidentally, from an ethical standpoint real doctors are not really supposed to prescribe placebo treatments although many do).

Lets take these four modalities in turn and gently mock them.

1) Chiropratic

This method of manipulation of patients was in fact invented in 1895 by a gentleman called D D Palmer. 

Chiropractors are not doctors, they are not 'medically qualified' (unless they happen to be medical doctors or nurses or physios who have trained to be a chiropractor. The basis of this practice 'chiropractic subluxation' has no robust significant evidential support. There is also some evidence to show that there a significant, albeit rare risks associated with this modality that may lead you to think that the benefit:gain ratio simply isn't worth the risk - probably a good idea to check before you visit one.

2) Osteopathy

Kind of like Chiropractics poor cousin, osteopathy was invented in the USA in the 1870's.

It relies on the following principles :

  1. The body is a functional unit. An integrated unit of mind, body, and spirit ("Man is Triune" – A.T. Still[20])
  2. The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms, having the inherent capacity to defend, repair, and remodel itself
  3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated
  4. Rational therapy is based on consideration of the first three principles

Sounds really scientific doesn't it ?

According to the British School of Osteopathy you can train to become an osteopath in a  couple of years, oh and there's no evidence it works beyond placebo. Here's what the NHS website says about this modality :

When we use a treatment and feel better, this can sometimes happen because of a phenomenon called the placebo effect, and not because of the treatment itself. To find out more, watch avideo about the placebo effect.
This means, although many people treated by osteopaths report good results, it is not always clear how effective the treatment actually is for certain conditions.
3) Acunpunture

So Chi and meridians anyone ?

When someone shows me where my chi lives I might try acupuncture. Dozens of (largely) poorly conducted studies have tried to justify acupuncture over the years. The larger and more professional and rigourously conducted the trial the less the effect this CAM seems to have.

The problem is, there are dozens of different versions of this treatment, all claiming different meridian points and so on - here's what the NHS says :

However, for the majority of conditions for which acupuncture is used, the scientific evidence is inconclusive or there has been no attempt to collect good-quality evidence. For a small number of conditions, there is evidence that acupuncture does not work.
More research is needed into the effectiveness of acupuncture on a wide range of conditions.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) say that acupuncture is an effective treatment for persistent lower back pain.

Incidentally, a luke-warm hot water bottle is also an effective treatment for lower back pain and it doesn't cost £ 40 an hour - who knew ?

4) The ultimate is non-scientific nonsense - Homeopathy

This was invented in 1796 by German : Samuel Hahnemann.

In essence Homeopathy says that a substance that causes a symptom can, when diluted to teeny tiny concentrations in water actually cure the problem. That's right - the poison when diluted will cure you. 

Depending on the dilution of the 'remedy' a homeopathic potion or pill could have not one single atom of the starting substance (a 12C dilution is only 60% likely to have one molecule left and any thing over this dilution level is just water) but that's ok because homeopathy uses a method of whacking the potion with a leather book called 'succussion' this enables the water to retain a memory of the original substance.

To get a feel for how homeopathy works and how utterly bonkers it is try this video :

Putting aside the fact that there is no possible scientific method for any of this rubbish to work - think about it .... there are actually NHS Homeopathic hospitals - in London and Bristol

So that's all right then - that's money well spent.

Lastly the Commons Science and Technology Committee reported in 2010 that homeopathy doesn't work beyond placebo - but the conservative government refused to act upon this report and ban this mumbo jumbo on the NHS.

For the full scoop on homeopathy can I suggest that you watch this 'documentary' :


So whilst most elements of a medical insurance plan are scientifically based, this one bit certainly isn't - I'd always recommend against using these kinds of modality but if you are considering them either via your PMI plan or (horror of horrors) paying for it yourself maybe do a bit of research about what it is that you're considering and then go and see a real doctor instead.


IFA's and private medical insurance

OK so its July.

The quietest time of the year - the ISA's are all done and decisions on pensions and investments are now on-hold until first of September.

As an independent financial adviser (IFA) how do you continue to generate revenue during July and August ?

The answer is : 'private medical insurance' or PMI. All IFA's have clients with PMI either through other advisers or (more likely) direct with insurers. There was a time in the 1990's and early 2000's when BUPA, AXA PPP, Aviva and to a lesser extent Standard Life Healthcare (now part of PruHealth) were massively active in the individual and group medical insurance market signing up tens of thousands of clients direct. Then increasing regulatory burden with the introduction of regulation into the general insurance market in 2006 saw the end of that and the move over more to focus on intermediated sales for the big four insurers.

However this market situation creates both an opportunity and a problem for IFA's. Firstly the opportunity. There are all these legacy PMI plans floating around where the client will not have received proper advice on product, pricing, renewals, claims or indeed anything in up to ten or fifteen years. Inevitably there are dozens of people in your client bank who need an urgent review of their PMI plan. They're paying too much, often for inferior cover and we can help them.

Given these people will now tend to be over 40 and the fact that they bought the cover in the first place means they are probably reasonably well off and financially aware and you could be talking to them about reviewing their PMI plans.

But, the problem for IFA's is that since the early noughties and especially since 2006 and regulation the insurers have been relying more and more on specialist intermediaries like myself for two main reasons. Firstly there is the old 80:20 rule - that 80% of the business comes from the top 20% of clients but also that following regulation and with the increasing complexity of the medical insurance market it has become impractical for IFA's (in most instances) to remain current and receive support from insurers. This means essentially that one important option for IFA's is to sub-contract their medical insurance advice to an adviser like myself.

Regardless of who sells your PMI business (and I'll tell you why you should use me in a moment) there is an enormous tranche of clients out there both individual and corporate who need support on their PMI and Summer is the ideal time to start digging about in your client bank to see if you can shake some new business loose.

Why would you come to me to help with PMI for your clients. ?

Well in essence I've been in PMI since 1994 and financial services more generally since 1989.

I've worked for several PMI insurers as a broker consultant (from 1994 to 2007) and since setting up my own specialist PMI practice in late 2010 I have specialised in helping IFA's, accountants and other professional advisers with sales & support on PMI for their clients.

Put simply I'm doing this day in day out with dozens of IFA's and adviser like you and I can definitely add value to your work with clients.

If you're interested just drop me a mail on philknight@pch.uk.com or call on : 07792 075748.

Monday, 7 July 2014

New general health blog post over at Talk Health Partnership

I have just posted a new general health blog post at :


I post semi-regularly over at Talk Health. The posts there are decidedly not business related and focus on more generic health issues that strike me as interesting.

Please read it when you have chance.

My pending appearance on Roger Edwards podcast : MPAF now has a date : 22nd July 2014

I recently recorded an interview with old colleague and industry raconteur and wit : Roger Edwards, ex of Bright Grey. His new podcast covers innovation and inspiration in the protection insurance industry. Roger and I spent  very enjoyable morning last week catching up and recording an episode of his new Marketing, Protection and Finance (MPAF) podcast. The focus of the discussion is primarily around my own PMICast podcast (on iTunes and www.pmicast.podbean.com) and how it slots into my business model. Plus how I aim the podcast towards my two main client demographics : PMI purchasers and also professional introducers.

The podcast is due to go live on the 22nd of July (here's a link to the webpage : www.rogeredwards.co.uk/mpaf/ but MPAF is also available on iTunes and I recommend a listen when you have chance.

I'll comment further as the podcast comes available but please watch out for it.

The NHS Dichotomy

Visiting the NHS always brings home the eternal dichotomy inherent in having a centrally government funded healthcare system. 

I once again had cause to visit the A & E department of a big city hospital yesterday evening and although I'm not planning to make any comments at all (controversial or otherwise) I would say that as per most peoples experience some of the NHS experience is really a bit rubbish, non patient focused and a bit 'nasty' but at the same time it's free (obviously) and always there for you 24/7 regardless of how unfortunate, ill and frankly foolish you might have been prior to ending up at a hospital.

So the NHS is as always great and a bit naff both at the same time - probably that makes it a fairly typical British institution.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Tour De France - boost to business in Leeds ?

As most people will know over the next few days Leeds is celebrating the kick off of the 2014 Tour in Yorkshire.

This event has been 'bigged' up by Leeds City Council and the Yorkshire Tourist Board for many months in Leeds to the point where Tour news is now a regular feature both in the local media and also in general public discussion.

Aside from the 'fun' of watching 200 cyclists shoot past you in a little over 45 seconds (having stood waiting for that for over two hours) that you get from any sporting event the whole thing has been sold to business as a massive boost for anyone involved in the tourism and related industries.

However, I live around two miles from the route on Saturday and speaking to local restauranteurs they tell me that the event is costing them a fortune. They are not on the route but near enough so that logically you would imagine that tourists would want to eat before, during or following the tour viewing. There are a number of problems though.

Road closures mean that unless you are within walking distance patrons will not be able to get to the restaurant. Some local eateries in Otley and Ilkley are I am informed having to pay to put their staff up in local B & B's on Friday and Saturday as otherwise they fear their cooks and waiters won't be able to get in to work and if you're on a road which is closed around an event people won't have the opportunity to find you in the first place.

One restauranteur friend I spoke to on Tuesday night told me that he was considering closing his place on Saturday, the main night of the Tour in Yorkshire.

To go give you an idea of the effect of summer sports on restaurants. During the recent England : Uruguay football match (that kicked off around 4.00pm on a sunny afternoon) my friend told me that they took a total of £ 300 all night - less than the salary cost of the nine staff they have on during that night in the week.

So glorious summer sport might lift the mood but don't let the authorities fool you into thinking that the money spent hosting this kind of event from our council tax does anything except host a cool party.

Also spare a thought to those people travelling home from central Leeds this evening to the North of the city (Headingly, West Park etc). The opening event of the tour kicks off in Leeds Arena from 4.00pm this evening culminating in the riders parading through the city. Road Blocks are in place to the North of Leeds centre from mid afternoon today and it's going to be bedlam getting home tonight !


Interested in private medical insurance or business more generally ?

Why not listen to my weekly podcast : search for PMICast on iTunes or listen on-line at : www.pmicast.podbean.com

Subscribe to this blog for weekly updates on when the podcast is available for download.

Feedback on the blog or podcast via e-mail : pmicast@podbean.com

Enjoy ?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Podcast news

I have just recorded and uploaded this weeks episode of PMICast.

This one features a piece on medical insurance renewal pricing and also my on-line marketing resource for introducers.

If you're remotely interested in medical insurance make sure you check it out on iTunes or www.pmicast.podbean.com


In related podcast news I was recently interviewed by Roger Edwards : renowned industry personage and public speaker for his new MPAF (Marketing, Protection and Finance) podcast. You can catch the first couple of episodes at www.rogeredwards.co.uk/mpaf/ and from Roger I understand mine is due to go live in a few weeks (he is recording in advance and then publishing to his preferred schedule - getting a few podcasts in reserve).

Roger is an old industry acquaintance of mine from RED ARC days and as we chatted in preparation for and then after the podcast we've discovered mutual interests in podcasting, tech, SF and fitness - I think this comes across in the podcast (when available) as we cover off the origin story and inception of PMICast and my thoughts behind using it to promote my business. We really could have prattled on for hours.

Really enjoyed recording with Roger, hope you all enjoy the show and I will confirm details when it goes live.