Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Nothing much happening - how did this post get so long then ?

It has been a quiet time on the blog recently.

I have been involved with putting together a lot of new client reports and new marketing initiatives and just haven't had time to put 'pen to paper' (fingers to keyboard ?).

I've also had a dearth of issues I wanted to cover off here to be honest as well and as much as anything am posting this here today for the sake of it rather than because I have anything specific to really say.

Did have an interesting experience yesterday morning when a marketing company based in Leeds called me and offered me £ 100 to join an on-line industry focus group for their client. I answered a few questions on the phone to see if I was within the criteria for inclusion in the group - I was (apparently) and they took my details to e-mail me the log in details for the session on Monday afternoon. One of the questions they asked me was my employment status which is self employed, sole trader. This did not seem to cause a problem.

However less than four hours later the same marketing company called back to tell me the inclusion criteria had changed - no self employed. I was out and no £ 100.

This is laughable - in financial services there are either employed consultants or self employed and in healthcare in particular there is probably a pretty even split between the two categories - to exclude self employed consultants from the panel makes literally no sense - it means that your focus group is actually a lack of focus group and the information you receive is going to be skewed. I came across a classic example of just that this week (more on that later).

What it all boils down to is that there is no way (imho) they decided to exclude self employed people from the process - I would guess that either the marketing company made a cock up in numbers or the client company saw my name and for some reason wanted to exclude me - in other words there was a criteria they told potential delegates and then another more secret one they were actually imposing - either way it smacked a bit of unprofessionalism and left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

The other issue of course is that as a self employed sole trader they dangled £ 100 cash in front of me and then snatched it away - that is of course worse than never having had the offer in the first place.

Because of this annoyance I contacted the company via Twitter and made my concerns known to them and to be fair they are going to come back to me on Friday to discuss things - that is of course why I am not identifying the company in this blog post.

Frankly I'm not too bothered about not being involved in the event, nor about the £ 100 (although it would be nice) - I just worry about an industry that cannot be transparent about this kind of thing and how clients would react if they are told one thing and then the company does another - financial services has enough PR problems generally without back room machinations on broker panels becoming apparent.

Last thing.

I mentioned/alluded to in the section above above a case where being self employed offers the client a different experience to being dealt with by an employed person.

Came across a client insured by a small provident insurer whose renewal on the 25th of January 2015 came with a 28% increase. The existing broker, a large national company sent out the renewal terms less than a week before the 25th with no advice or support other than the renewal docs.

The client who has been through a divorce in the proceeding year and had other on-going issues simply didn't have time to review before the case renewed. So she has now come to me to look at things for her - the frustrating thing to me is that moving a client to a new insurer (as we will in all likelihood need to do) actually gives rise to more income for the intermediary than renewing where it was - this means that because the person dealing with the case at the old broker didn't care enough to review the case or advise the client in anyway even though it could have netted more income for her company and of course (holy grail) given the client better deal.

I regularly pick up business from larger intermediaries where there has been a lack of service or something like this was missed, from pure laziness and apathy rather than anything else.

Generally renewals hit my desk at least three weeks before the renewal date so there is no excuse for sending them over to the client late - this case was simply a person sitting in an office following the path of least resistance - it takes a bit of time and effort to review a clients cover and without incentive or initiative to work on behalf of the client my experience is that people will not.

So, it transpires I did have some stuff to talk about after all.

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