Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Why is it hard for IFA's and other professional advisers to write Private Medical Insurance business

There are a variety of factors involved in the decision that many of my introducers take when deciding to sub-contract advice on medical insurance to me.

Not least is the fact that in the 21st century most business/professionals tend to specialise in a tightly focused area of their business and taking on a whole new product area can be problematical.

However there are a range of factors that mitigate against the average IFA or Accountant being able to or even wanting to offer advice on Private Medical Insurance (PMI). I wanted to focus on probably the simplest one of these - support from PMI insurers.

Now I will preface this article by stating clearly that I am not attempting to belittle insurers here. Far from it, without their on-going support my role with clients would be next to impossible.

In the distant past many PMI insurers gave out agencies to brokers and other intermediaries like hot cakes, the advent of first GISC then FSA and now finally FCA regulation has meant that the regulatory burden when writing PMI has increased for both brokers and insurers. As a consequence the insurers have gotten far more targeted at picking which client acquisition routes they choose to support both from an FCA standpoint (hence the disappearance of many direct sales channels) and also from a profitability view point - and herein lies the problem for smaller IFA's and non-specialist brokers. It is often financial impossible for the PMI insurers ti support any broker who doesn't specialist in writing medical insurance and as a result keeping up to date on product knowledge, pricing and switching policies becomes harder and harder for non-specialists and servicing existing business effectively also becomes more of a chore and is much harder.

As a result, in short, the PMI insurers acquire the majority of their new business from the minority of PMI specialist brokers (like myself). This means that for an IFA or commercial broker to be worth support for the insurers on a day to day basis that broker needs to be virtually a de facto PMI specialist in their own right. So for example some larger IFA practices will have one or two people servicing a PMI book and generate just enough business to secure a minimum number of PMI agencies so as to act as an independent broker.

Increased consolidation of the PMI specialist market and higher targets for PMI insurers to make their business profitable have all worked against the standard IFA model being able to advise on PMI to the point where without a sizeable existing book of PMI business and the scope to increase it over time it has become impractical for the average IFA to spend time looking at PMI new business or re-brokes.

Having looked after IFA's and non-specialists now for over 21 years this is sad but the silver lining is that it does enable me to have on-going dialogue with many potential new introducers and I can often help them help their clients and of course increase revenue for their practice.

If you're interested in discussing your PMI business and how I can help just e-mail on : philknight@pch.uk.com or call : 07792 075748.  

Friday, 26 June 2015

Updates to DropBox

I have been doing some work with introducer IFA's this week and have updated my public drop box folder which contains a variety of information and pro-forma documents that is of general interest to my professional introducers.

If you are an IFA, Accountant or General/Commerical Broker who's like my assistance on medical insurance please feel free to drop me a line and ask to join - it's a simple e-mail I can ping over to you. Once joined you can access and download the documents you are interested in.

Best contact is : philknight@pch.uk.com

Hope this helps.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The problem with comic book movies

I've been into comics since I was around four or five. I can still remember (in fact still own) the first ever UK comic I was bought (Spiderman UK Weekly with a cover including Spiderman and the Lizard fighting over the Statton Island ferry) and my first US 'proper' comic, an issue of Marvel Team Up featuring Spiderman and the Shroud (powered by the evil god Kali and able to manipulate darkness - bit of a batman ripoff to be fair in terms of design). So comics and Spiderman are kind of in my cultural DNA.

This is the actual cover of that book - yay !

With that in mind let me tell you a story :

There's this science geek kid who struggles at school with alienation, he lives with his Aunt and Uncle and kind of doesn't really get how important they are. Through a bizarre series of events (involving people who may be important much later on in his story) he gets bitten by of all things a radioactive spider and is granted miraculous super powers. Learning an important lesson in responsibility this new Spider-Man tragically loses his Uncle through negligent manslaughter but then decides to use his powers for good and in the course of many adventures gains lots of insane mega-powered opponents who seem to want to rip out his spleen for no rational reason other than it looks good as a CGI effect.

Stop me if you've heard this story before - at least twice and now possibly a third time to follow.

See, this is the issue for me, a new Spiderman has been cast in the Marvel Cinema Universe and we have a cameo from Spidey in the third Captain America movie (Civil War) and of course his own outing due in 2017.


It seems as if film makers seem to think that no one is culturally aware of anything that has ever happened before. Granted no one knew the origin story of Spawn or Men in Black (?) or possibly even Thor (although what happened to Don Blake and the walking stick WTF Marvel!) and of course in the forthcoming Black Panther pic no one other than the privileged few know of the majesty of Wakanda and it's reigning monarch so fair enough do a Panther origin story.

But Spiderman - isn't he the one who was rocketed to earth from the doomed planet 'SeenItAllBefore' or perhaps he was the one who saw his parents murdered outside a movie theatre and then a giant Spider flew through the air before him and vowed to fight crime as ManSpiderBat.

Spiderman, like Batman and Superman are cultural icons and everyone (except your Gran) knows his origin. Plus we've seen Toby and Andy re-do it in the last 20 years over and over again. I therefore will only go and see a Spiderman film if it leaps straight into the crimefighting fun - any origin, even in flashback and I am withholding my support.

It's not just the Spiderman franchise though - Fantastic Four reboots this summer after an absence of only an 8 year absence - admittedly the origin in the new movie seems to be around dimensional travel (a la Ultimate Fantastic Four) but you can bet there's still mention of cosmic rays.

Let's hope that Batman Vs Superman manages to cram in origins for Batman (again), Superman (yawn, again), Aquaman (who) and Wonder Woman (Greek Gods anyone ?). A three act movie with plot and character development only in the final act after two hours of stuff I already know.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

My 'main' work update

In recent months I have not blogged here that often about the specifics of my role as an independent, whole of market medical insurance adviser (looking after individual and company clients in the UK and around the world TM).

This is because to the uninitiated this can be dull as ditchwater (?) and also as part of Premier Choice Healthcare (my compliance provider) I cannot and do not intend to use this blog as a 'business' website. It is not authorised to be used as a sales or promotional vehicle for my medical insurance work nor have I ever really seen it that way. Importantly it is not FCA compliant to do so. The blog is a personal vehicle that sometimes mentions or highlights issues that are of personal interest or relevance and in doing so will sometimes cover work related issues.

One of the questions that I am often asked by clients and professional introducers (IFA's accountants and the like) is how is my business set up ? I think it can't hurt to run over that quickly here in the blog.

I set up my business at the end of 2010 and went to Premier Choice who I had dealt with for many years (when employed by PMI insurers) to provide my compliance route to the FCA. As a business I am a self employed sole trader and the HMRC return goes in as : 'Phil Knight, Independent Healthcare Consultant'.

From an FCA regulatory standpoint I am Phil Knight, Independent Healthcare Consultant, Part of Premier Choice Group etc. compliance and agency support is provided by them and client facing documentation such as the Needs Demands statement that go to clients come from Premier Choice and their office in Towcester referring back to me as the clients contact and advisor.

So I search for, find, work with and advise my own clients (or often those of my professional introducer contacts) and then use PCH's agencies to provide them cover. Advice is given by me and I regularly undergo Training and Compliance checks which could (and I suppose over the years may have been) submitted to the FCA and it's precursor the FSA to demonstrate that I am offering cogent and compliant advice to my clients.

The back office service and FCA compliance I receive from PCH for my clients is something I pay to them via deduction from commission received - I find the admin and support from PCH to be excellent and although I am the primary contact for all of my clients it is worth considering the hard work provided by the staff at Premier Choice.

Karate website update

As some readers will know in addition to medical insurance and marketing I also run training at my local karate club.

I've recently put together a place holder website for my side of the club so people can find out training times and so forth plus get hold of me if needed.

If you are interested in training with us in Yeadon, north Leeds please just click : Leeds Premier Karate Club - Yeadon

We run an on-going beginners class all year round (no restrictions on new starters as there can often be at some clubs) and in particular I would welcome students who have tried martial arts before and fancy another go - this applies to me. I trained in one style for over 30 years before switching clubs and ending up getting my second black belt at age 43/44 and going on to run my new club (at least the Yeadon branch of it). So if you want to come along you will be more than welcome - no age or sex restriction !

Hope to see you all there !
Around one third of my main class at Yeadon -
 I'm at the back in the middle !

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Why’s and Wherefore’s of podcasting


About six or seven months ago I stopped recording and uploading my PMICast podcast. I’ve written ad nauseum (?) about the reasons for this. Basically it boils down to a mixture of staleness of the format, laziness on my part and also genuine time constraints.

After more than sixty episodes I found it increasingly hard to get motivated to plan and record the podcast which felt more and more the ‘same’ to me everytime I uploaded it, even to the point that the show notes often just needed the date changing to be accurate.

Because it was stale I found it harder and harder to motivate myself to record and of course if you can’t be bothered it is easy for that to become just something I could miss every week or fortnight.

Lastly, i am a lot busier now than I was a year ago or even less. More business, more renewing clients and a busy personal life (I’m now a professional karate instructor as well as an insurance professional for example). So time I spent prepping and recording the podcast is now used sorting our clients or preparing a karate class. Admittedly I am earning a decent living from this but the aim of the podcast was to augment the sales function rather than hold it back.

All the above being said I really enjoy being able to say that I host my own podcast and would still like to resurrect something, I’m just not sure what.

I have looked at my various interests : martial arts, PMI, technology, comics, SF and so on and even recorded a couple of sample new ‘casts but so far nothing has piqued my interest enough to become a regular replacement for PMICast.

The PMICast stream still exists over at www.pmicast.podbean.com (in fact I recently paid for another years hosting at podbean) and on iTunes and I will hopefully get around to putting new content up at some point in the future.

Incidentally my occasional ‘funny’ SF and Fantasy podcast ‘Where’s Wilson’ is still live and worth listening to - it features me and my little boy : Ryan and is to be found on the PMICast stream.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The psychology of Quitters

Why do people quit ?

I mean every day and in in every walk of life and activity people just give up. There often don't seem to be too many consequences or downsides for quitters.

Their targets at work, not achieved then they give up.

At sport, martial arts are hard and they don't think they are progressing. What happens - students just give up. Only a fraction of students ever get black belts and that is because it is hard and worthwhile and some people just don't have the strength of will to get that far.

I hate the word 'Quitter'.

It is a word that I find offensive and I would vigorously, probably physically protest anyone who ever used that word to describe me.

It is a fact though that in the UK quitting seems to be endemic.

Frankly it drives me bonkers. All around me people are giving up often for very little reason.

I'll tell you why people give up. It's because it is easy, too easy. It seems that it is easier to stop trying and bugger off to do something else than stick to the task at hand and that's what drives me mad.

Some of us, in business and socially and in sports/hobbies could just give up and allow our family to starve or get kicked out of our houses. Or stop running karate classes because sometimes we just don't feel like training.

That's the difference between those that give up and those that don't. It's about commitment and seeing things through to the end. Both qualities that sadly seem to be lacking in society these days.

A Black Belt is a White Belt who never gave up !

I'm not going to give up though and I certainly am not going to stop talking about issues like this in my blog because it would be too easy and easy does not generate respect.

Hard work and failing but carrying on generate success. The rest will sort itself out.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Guilty Pleasures #toomuchinfo !

When working on mundane tasks I will often make use of this new fangled inter-webs and stream on-line content on my iMac whilst working on my MacBook Pro.

So far I've gone through 8 seasons of Spooks and all five series of Breaking Bad on Netflix along with lots of 24, Better Call Saul and MythBusters. I also regularly use the BBC , Channel Four and ITV on demand players to catch up on the odd program.

My current guilty pleasure is Ninja Warrior UK. Great program, total Gladiators rip off but there you go. My problem though is the ITV player, every time you log in to watch a program you get ads (fair enough this is ITV after all). Then when you pause the program you seem to get ads. In actual ad breaks you get ads. When you get a phone call and pause the program you either get ads or it re-sets itself to the start of the program and guess what - you get ads.

Then, when you fast forward to where you were in the program you get however many ads would be in the two or three commercial breaks you 'missed' be re-starting the show.

I am literally not joking when I say that to watch the Ninja Warrior UK final from last Saturday (30th Of May) has taken me over two hours factoring multiple re-watches of ad breaks - that is for a 47 minute 43 second program.

Lunacy ! Plus no one won the program - what's the point ?