Saturday, 23 September 2017

Leed Memory Walk - setting off now !!!

Sorry for the brevity of the post but I'm late leaving :

About to set off for Leeds Memory Walk for Alzheimers Research - there’s still time to sponsor me at : www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mw260933

Please give if you can

Friday, 7 July 2017

When having a healthcare broker counts

Most of my job is advising clients on which plan suits and then organising forms, renewals and so forth - administration and consultation by and large.

I earn my money when I can sort a problem for them though. Bottom line is that sometimes things go wrong. I recently had a case where a member on a company scheme of mine was having issues getting a claim through. It wasn't declined but rather the insurer had lead the member down a bit of an administrative black hole.

She called me on a Friday morning and outlined the issue. To resolve things here's what I did.

1) Re-assure the member - form the sound of it there was no issue about coverage - this was a bureaucratic problem.

2) Established on my system that the member was set up correctly in terms of underwriting and benefits - a one minute job but time saving as it brings all the data in front of me for discussion with insurer.

3) Clearly messaged call to the insurer - why has the admin loop being created and importantly how do we expedite.

The problem was in part due to the nature of the condition and in part how long the insurance had been with that company. Either way one simple call clarified the situation (to message back the member) and sorted a possible solution.

This leads to step four :

4) Re-assure the member again - outline the rationale for the insurer. We actually had a little joke about their convoluted admin and then I took ownership of resolving things - we need a claim form form the GP but I committed to receive it, pass to the insurer, chase until resolved. A little more work to me but this is an important issue - twenty minutes of work will likely guarantee the renewal of the scheme and my retention of them as a client moving forwards.

I'm happy to still have a great client and they're happy a frustrating problem is resolved with little work for them or the member to do.

That's where I really earn my money.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

EDC - Everyday carry, pocket tool update

Around 18 months ago I started carrying a small penknife (Victorinox Spartan) as part of my main Every Day Carry (EDC). I found it initially very useful for those bottle opening and daily cutting tasks. The pen knife has a small utility blade (which I used daily) and a larger main blade. Plus an easily accessible bottle cap opener, again in regular use.

Over the months though I've discovered that for around the house DIY problems the Spartan wasn't really enough to get any significant tasks done. At the same time as I bought the Spartan I also picked up a Leatherman Wave - really great full-size multi-tool and still one of my favourite possessions. It sits on my desk at home and is my 'go to' item for pretty much everything. An issue for UK EDC'ers though are the strict UK knife laws. In essence we cannot carry (without good reason - more on that later) a knife with a blade of longer than 3 inches or that locks in anyway. So unless I have a very good reason for carrying such a blade (and the Wave has three locking blades, count them !) if I get stopped by a police officer out and about carrying the Wave I could very easily end up in prison. The reason for legitimately carrying such a tool would generally be work or pastime related (carpet fitter, electrician, going camping etc) but unfortunately keeping on me for EDC and daily use/repairs and such simply isn't a justification under law.

The other point I would make about the Wave is that whilst it's great for more serious work tasks some of the tools I use regularly on the Spartan (corkscrew, bottle opener, small driver etc) are actually quite hard to get to, only being accessible once the pliers are unfolded and quite stiff on my Wave.

So over the months I've been thinking about what I need for regular on-going EDC carry. Recently I've been sporting the Spartan and also a Leatherman Style PS - this is a really cool key ring sized tool with no blade (hence keeping the Spartan handy) and some scissors plus a carabiner/bottle opener - it's meant carrying two tools in one pocket with some replication of function but both open beer (!) so it doesn't matter which one comes to hand and I've liked having a blade or a pair of (admittedly) small scissors on hand. Plus the real winner with the Style is the fold out pliers - they're not super strong but enough for that immediate/emergency use case. One other advantage of having a non bladed EDC multi tool on-hand is that if I go somewhere where even a legal blade is inappropriate I can leave the Spartan at home or in the car. For example, over the last few weeks I've been visiting university open days with my daughter - some threatened bag or pocket checks on arrival (given the UK terror situation) so I just left the penknife at home and carried the inoffensive Leatherman.

Last great idea from Leatherman is that the Style pairs with another tool they've developed called the Hail this is another really well thought out mini tool that I'm now keeping in the car as an easily on hand scraper, driver and 10mm wrench - plus if you watch the video on that link you'll see how it pairs with my Style if I want additional functionality.

That said, I've now moved on a stage. The two tool approach was just to replicative and messy so I've moved on the Leatherman Juice CS4 now hopefully this device is going to combine the best of both worlds from the Spartan and the Style - decent mid sized pocket blade (non locking), corkscrew plus bottle opener, scissors (larger than the Style) and also pliers plus a saw blade for emergency use (seat belt release and so on if required). The main issue with this new mid size multi-tool though is the mass - it's much heavier than the Style and Spartan combined and as I carry it in a front jeans pocket or suit trouser pocket generally it can get in the way. With that in mind I'm going for the Juice's slightly smaller cousin the C2 (as a birthday present hopefully) as a back up - slightly less utility onboard but a smaller more 'pocket sized' device. I think ultimately I'll probably end up carry them in rotation as tasks and my day demands, or stick on in my bag and keep the other on hand in pocket.

Will let you know when and if that one arrives as to the final pocket multi-tool carry.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Medical Insurance for professional introducers

I've been working with IFA's, Accountants and General Commercial Brokers now for eight years advising their clients on all aspects of medical insurance and related plans generally adding value both for the client and income stream for the introducers.

In recent years I've begun to focus more on small corporate plans (2 to 350 employees) and high net worth individual clients but I still look after a very wide range of types and size of client and would never turn away anyone wanting assistance on Private Medical Insurance (PMI), cash plans, EAP, healths screening and so forth.

I now work almost exclusively with professional introducers (although again I'll never turn away a client who approaches me direct and this does happen quite regularly) and have an extremely strong panel of advisers who work with me and refer their clients to me for on-going assistance and support in this area. It is nice to work with such a good group of people and although I don't push for lots and lots of new introducers, again I do receive regular requests and am always happy to have a discussion.

My work is based on the premise that my healthcare advisory process needs to fit into the work flow of the professional introducer and not the other way around. You don't want me adding in any more work than is necessary - the aim is simply that the referral comes across and I then pick up all the work from the client moving forwards.

Everything I do is predicated on the idea that no one introducer or their client is the same - everyone needs variations on level of support, information and assistance. There cannot be a one size fits all in the real world, especially when dealing with a technical product like PMI and clients differing needs.

Over the years I have invested in technology and a social media presence to drive the support to all of my clients and introducers in a sophisticated and transparent way. I strongly believe that my small, bespoke practice is the market leader the UK, for working with introducers on Private Medical cover. I even have a public Drop Box folder full of sales and marketing support ideas for my partners to use - just e-mail me if you'd like access.

If you are interested in working with me or have a case to discuss please contact me as below. Also though take a moment to check out my blog : www.localventure.blogspot.com and my podcast (the only UK podcast devoted solely to medical insurance : PMICast. The podcast is available on iTunes and all good podcast aggregators or online : www.pmicast.podbean.com

Join me in sourcing the very best in medical insurance for your individual, company and high net worth clients.

If you'd like to discuss any prospective cases with me or need general advice on medical insurance - just call or e-mail me.

Kind Regards

Phil

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
(Part of Premier Choice Group, FCA No. 312878)
T. 07792 075748
E. philknight@pch.uk.com
W. www.pch.uk.com/consultants/phil-d-knight/

Monday, 12 June 2017

Karate Training for 2nd Dan

At the moment I am training for my second dan karate grading. I passed what we call a 'pre-dan' in March - this is actually the same test (at a lower intensity) but designed to offer guidance on areas to practice and focus the mind for the main test in the future. I passed this in March 2017 and have been working towards the main grading since.

For the grading I look at three main areas to work on - firstly technique. As a student of two very different styles of karate I need to really hook physically and mentally into my main style (Shukokai) and think about stance, kicks, technique names, many of which are different between the two styles. I practice my three combinations (groups of techniques combined together each to work a key area e.g. stance, stamina or kicking ability) which are at the start of the grading and designed deliberately to tire, sapping arms and legs right from the off. My aim however is not to use them as a fitness aid but rather to focus on them as techniques to ensure they are there in the 'databank' and my muscle memory.

I also blast through all 13 kata I am required to know for this level each day. In the build up I tend to do six or seven per day but in the fortnight before I cover them all every day. As I'm a 'rusher' (i.e. I go too fast in gradings) I practice at around 50% speed to get the feel for going slower but work at full strength, almost in dynamic tension style. I go through the kata's from first to last but never go on to the next until the previous one is correct. Can sometimes take four or five false starts especially on the later more complex forms.

Fitness - this is a gruelling two hour thirty minute plus muscle blast culminating in (for black belts at least) free form sparring with all other people grading (sometimes eight or ten bouts in total). I therefore focus most on fitness for this kind of grading. I'm currently running most days (which is the most time efficient way I find of really banking some stamina) and of course am pushing up the intensity of dojo sessions for myself as well. I am in the fortunate position of having built up quite effectively for the March pre-dan so since then I've been in maintenance mode rather than killing myself to build overall fitness - eight mile runs are no issue at the moment and hopefully I've done enough.

As I'm now 46 and 26 years into karate training I'm finding that recovery after training and more specifically keeping focus during an intense session can be an issue. Over the years I've tried a number of strategies and for this kind of grading event I go for a carry meal around three hours pre-grading. Lots of hydration (just water) during and possibly a chocolate bar to keep going around 2/3 of the way through.

Obviously whilst this is going on I am also teaching four karate classes a week and holding down a full time job running my own business - next 3rd Dan in 12 months !!!

The Importance of your Medical Insurance renewal documentation

I have just uploaded the latest edition of my 'weekly' (haha) podcast and one of the subjects covered is the importance of medical insurance renewals.

Listen to the podcast (http://pmicast.podbean.com/e/pmicast-20-episode-69/) then return to read on.

I wanted to cover this subject here in a more general and customer focused way because firstly the audio format doesn't suit a longer discussion and secondly the more I thought about this subject the more important I realised the issue was. Hopefully what I am about to cover will apply equally to both company and personal clients and also be of interest to my professional introducers as well (whose issues on this subject are the primary focus of the above podcast).

First, Private Medical Insurance PMI) 101 :

PMI is an annually renewable general insurance product just like (although I use those words advisedly) car insurance or house and contents. In other words the insurer sends out a new (usually higher) price each year taking into account a number of pricing factors including but not limited to age of the customer(s), changes to the product, where you live, how many claims you've made, do you have an excess and so forth.

So to reiterate, every year just before the renewal the insurer sends out the terms they would like you to accept for the following twelve months. Simple right ? Well you'd hope so but not necessarily.

Firstly insurers sometimes make mistakes. I have several clients who, if not for my intervention would never have received new terms. The insurers (and this is a guesstimate based on personal experience over 24 years) in general will miss, that is fail to issue, around one in every sixty or seventy renewals. So with this scenario the price goes up (according to all of those factors above) but no one tells the client, he or she or they usually notices at some point when a new and unexpected direct debit amount appears on their banking app or statement. This is pure mechanical error and easy to rectify with a diary system. Most brokers, certainly specialists in this area of insurance will have one for their clients (I certainly do).

At this stage I would strongly suggest that any client who is direct with an insurer and not currently using an intermediary like me should do so ASAP. There are two reasons for this. Firstly to avoid not getting the renewal as outlined above - I dread to think how many direct renewals go missing en route to direct clients. But importantly if you only work with one insurer you do not know if you have the right plan at the right price - it really is vital to get professional independent advice in one of the most complex insurance product areas.

Another problem is that of intermediary routing. This (in addition to having a solid diary system) is where I can really add value for my introducer partners. There is a vast tranche of PMI business out there much of it with Aviva and Vitality Health (for historical reasons I won't bore you with) but also BUPA and AXA PPP where the original broker has set up a plan but neglected to ask the insurer to route all documents via the broker. This is where I find a load of problems building up over time.

Think of the PMI insurers who have millions of customers. Some are direct, some via IFA's, some via general brokers some via healthcare specialist brokers. In some cases insurers allow different routing of documents for some types (e.g. renewals) but not others (member certificates). Some just deal with brokers, others not at all. Some clients might have one family member on a group plan with one insurer and others on a personal plan with a different insurer. With all of these splintered outputs it is inevitable that even if the insurer is supposed to send documents to the broker not the client they make mistakes - specialist brokers tend to have better relationships and process in place to mitigate against incorrect routing of renewals and it is a massive reason why specialists can pick up business from IFA's and a big selling point for me in working with my IFA's. As an example Vitality Health have tick boxes on their application form covering routing of documentation out-put but if you leave this section blank when you submit a case then it all, automatically, goes direct to the client. I lose count of how many introducers have had issues with renewals going direct and clients cutting them out of the process. It's an issue easily resolved with a knowledge of Vitality's process.

Lastly timing, theoretically most insurers will say that renewals are issued automatically between four and six weeks prior to renewal. This however can vary based usually on how busy insurers are. Even if the process is automated (which it usually is with the bigger insurers) there are always going to be backlogs at busy times and over the Summer due to holidays. My advice to clients is to consider prepping for renewal no later than three weeks before the due date - this gives us bags of time (even on larger complex SME cases) to receive terms, review the market, meet to make decisions and proceed. Also bear in mind that we can, if required, backdate any changes up to 30 days - time is therefore never as pressing as the renewal sales consultant at the insurer might insist, however shrilly.

I would lastly point out that it is amazing how many cases, even those coming from insurers with an automated process, arrive late when there is a bigger than expected increase. There are I suspect two reasons. Firstly if there are a number of claims on a case it is likely that a manual intervention from the risk/underwriters might be required to establish a final price - that seems fair. However I do wonder if sometimes these larger increases are also held back a little longer so the client doesn't have quite so long to look at alternative options - a little less fair but (insurers might argue) it could be reasonable business practice.

Either way - be aware of your renewal date and beware - make sure it arrives either from the insurer or broker around a month before the renewal is usual - so either put a diary note in your phone/computer or contact me and I will sort it all for you !

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
07792 075748
philknight@pch.uk.com


EDC Update for June 2017

Here's a photo taken just now of my current EDC :


So we have the following as of today :
  • Trusty Iphone 7 Plus in a Spigen 'Rugged Armour' case (no matter how rich you are, you still only have an iPhone - must be the best device in the world).
  • Apple Airpods
  • Credit Card sized leather wallet (£ 9.99 from a garden centre !)
  • Paracord bracelet with fishing line and firestarter
  • Victorinox 'Spartan' knife - compact and tidy, really good to have on hand
  • Leatherman Wave - actually illegal for carry/outdoor use in the UK without good reason (i.e. work) as it has a locking blade so when out and about I carry the Spartan.
  • House and Car key on a 'Fossil' leather strap -  belt loop hanging 
  • Apple Watch V1.0 for training, notification and of course - telling the time
  • Casio G-Shock G-SHOCK Men's Watch GW-7900-1ER - recent addition to the team. Wear this in rotation with the Apple Watch - like it on longer runs as the digits are easier to see when in motion. Good stop watch and light plus its solar powered. Suspect it might stop a bullet - it's that chunky !
  • Lastly, Fitbit Charge HR 2 - because I can't decide which fitness track to use I now wear two !
Looking at my last Every Day Carry update I posted here (which predates the Fitbit and the G Shock) I have since purchased the CRKT Journeyer and it is a solid little knife. I keep it in one of the bags I use on a daily basis (canvas messenger - same model as used by Jack Bauer circa early '24') as a back up item and I've moved the larger Victorinox Huntsman knife into a third bag (my cross chest small backpack) - this is a more practical outdoor knife that's useful to have on longer runs in case anything might happen.

Overall in terms of where I am on EDC I'm really enjoying the Spartan. A really useful little knife/tool to have on me at all times (I even transfer it into suit pockets when I go out on business now) which I use every day without fail. My only issue is the differential in utility between this and the Wave - I often have to go to my desk (where the Leatherman lives) and retrieve it to do a more involved job when the Spartan just isn't an option. With this in mind I've just invested in a Leatherman Style PS - one of their small skeleton tools - hopefully this in conjuction with the Spartan will see me for most domestic and out and about jobs. With my EDC I've been careful to comply with UK knife/concealed weapon laws which are strict and the Style PS actually has no blade hence the need to keep up with the Spartan or similar which is a smaller, legal non-locking blade.

I'm also rocking the AirPods - best £ 160 I ever spent - use them constantly now - once you get over the embarrassment of wearing them in public.




My Podcasting exploits

It's been a while (nine months or so to be inprecise) but I've just recorded and uploaded the 69th episode of PMICast covering my work with professional introducers and an issue some have been having with securing medical insurance renewals in good time from insurers.

I often cite work load as the reason for my infrequent recording schedule (the podcast started in March 2013 as a bi-weekly show, then quickly went weekly before settling in at whenever I have chance or something to talk about) but it strikes me, given that I do owe a lot of my marketing success to the podcast that I really should try and record it more often - fingers crossed this time I can work harder to do a few more shows.

You can find my own podcast here.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Learn Traditional Martial Arts in Leeds

LEEDS PREMIER KARATE CLUB - YEADON 

Our new beginner classes start in May, June and July 2017 (Monday and Wednesday) at 6.00pm for 30 minutes.

Interested in learning traditional Japanese karate in a disciplined but friendly atmosphere ?

Marital Arts are a superb way to meet new people, get fitter, become more confident and for kids to learn respect and discipline.

We have spaces in our Monday and Wednesday beginners classes at Yeadon Westfield Infants School - LS19 7NQ, off the A65 in Yeadon, Leeds.

My beginners classes last 30 minutes and are fun but focused on teaching the basics to allow students from age 5 upwards to gain the skills and confidence to join my main class.

Syllabus is split into easier fun version for kids and full adult beginner syllabus.

Whether you decide to join the club or not, the first two lessons are always totally free.

Come and learn self defence and get fitter with an instructor with 37 years martial arts experience and black belts in two different styles of karate.

Contact Sensei Phil Knight for more information.


Learn Karate in Leeds

If you're interested in learning traditional karate in Leeds I am now accepting new beginners into my karate classes on a Monday and Wednesday evening at 6.00pm.

You can find full information on the club website or e-mail me on : pkn4395@gmail.com

Sensei Phil

Congratulations to my new yellow belts

In the last few weeks I have graded several of my karate beginners classes (both the Monday and Wednesday classes) to yellow belt and they now join the main class on their day of training.

For some (especially the youngest) it has been quite a journey and taken a lot of commitment and effort to get there and I wanted to give them a shout out on my personal blog.

So very well done to the following students :

Daniel, Jack, Josh and Matilda.

In particular Josh and Jack who have had to really dig deep and work super hard on that kata !

Look forward to seeing you continuing to work hard in the main class and aim towards that organ belt grading.

Sensei Phil

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

We Stand With Manchester

Woke up this morning and blearily checked my BBC News app on the phone on the way downstairs and I'm not ashamed to say I stood in my living room a little while later and wept as I watched the story begin to unfold on the TV.

Those poor people .....

My thoughts go out to all of those people who have been and will continue to be affected.

Obviously Manchester has been targeted before by terrorists (the Arndale bombing in 1996) but this feels more personally visceral for a number of reasons. Firstly I live in Leeds and in recent years have spent quite a bit of time on business and with the family in Manchester. I've been to the MEN Arena several times myself for concerts and of course I have two children in a not dissimilar age range to the kids that would have been there and affected last night.

I'm not personally affected by the tragedy I would stress but still feel as if I've been punched in the stomach.

I am not a journalist nor an investigator and it is not for me to say, at this stage, who may or may not have been responsible. I will leave the investigation to the police and the recriminations to the politicians.

What I will say is that this is an absolute outrage. A cowardly attack on innocents. It should not go unpunished.

Personally I would consider myself a liberal and a non-reactionary but moments like this make me want to devolve to my baser instincts. That however is what 'they' want. Terror attacks are designed to frighten, to disrupt, to change behaviour and ultimately to make us lash out at those responsible, or rather those we think responsible and thus give justification and legitimacy to the terrorists.


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Factors to consider when reviewing medical insurance for personal clients

The other night as I was falling asleep I tried to count up in my head how many personal and corporate medical insurance client reviews I've done over the last seven years since I first set up my practice.

I lost count very quickly.

Looking at my master client folders on my Mac there are over 640 files for clients and prospects and I must have done multiple reports and reviews for some of the earlier clients for whom I've now handled six or seven renewals.

Looking at one insurers whose quotes I can tally, just for individual clients their system is showing that I have keyed 1029 separate quotes onto their system. That's just personal clients where they were not the holding broker for the case and were appropriate to consider for the client.

Over the years I'll bet I've easily done between 2,000 and 2,500 individual reviews and reports for new and renewing clients.

Each one is slightly different as you might imagine but there are some basic underpinnings that sit behind the thought process when starting a review for each client :

1) What do they want/need to achieve ?

2) Is what they have/ want appropriate ?

3) Can they afford it. Is it good advice for them to have a particular plan, benefit or feature ?

4) What do they have at the moment, is it suiting their needs - is it expensive or overpriced ?

5) What is their underwriting requirement - if they're a new client what type of underwriting might be appropriate. If they have cover already have they made recent claims, can they consider a move of insurer.

6) Will an insurer accept them on switch (some insurers won't accept scheme leavers on certain types of underwriting). Some insurers will not accept certain professions e.g. doctors.

7) Can we create a plan that fulfils the clients needs and is within their budget.

For each of those 600 odd clients, over 2,500 plus reports there are a series of up to a dozen individual decisions to consider as above. That's before we even get down to the literally hundreds of plan options the 15 or so insurers I regularly use and quote have on their plans.

10,000's of choices, features, ideas and other important issues to consider over time.

Medical insurance is on of those weird products that seems on the face of it quite simple : Private treatment once you've been referred by your GP for out-patient tests, consultations and then, if required in-patient or day case treatments and follow ups.

This apparent simplicity hides the basic sometimes forgotten premise : when you're dealing with people's money and health things get complex real fast. I've been looking after medical insurance for client and professional introducers for decades now and I still learn new things every day.

If you need a review of the cover you have in place. If you'd like new cover or if you're an adviser of some kind (IFA, General Broker or Accountant) who'd like help with a client - let me know. I'm happy to provide another review for you, for free.

Let me help you through the maze of decisions.  

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
07792 075748
philknight@pch.uk.com

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

IFA's - the importance of reviewing medical insurance clients

It's very easy when a clients medical insurance renewal arrives from an insurer for an adviser to follow the path of least resistance. To send the terms straight out to the client without considering a review of the market, assuming the terms and benefits are still ok.

Over the last 23 years I have been involved in literally hundreds of such cases both as a broker consultant for insurers and then since 2010, as an adviser working primarily with professional introducers. In both parts of my career I've said the same thing : I don't think you can ever assume that the renewal terms offered by an insurer (and indeed the benefits package) are fine moving forwards. More particularly a PMI plan, personal or company sponsored needs reviewing in-depth and detail at least every two to three years.

The FCA now asks intermediaries and insurers to formally suggest clients might want to 'shop around' at each renewal and whilst this will not apply to every client (those claiming or who have done so recently for example) it is advice I do adhere for my clients.

So if within your practice you have some legacy PMI clients who've been with their current insurer for while without review it's certainly worth giving someone like me a call to look at a full market review.

I've worked with IFA's since 1994 and as professional introducers to my practice since 2010 and would be happy to chat to any IFA, general broker or accountant who has potential business to look over.
Phil Knight - Independent Healthcare Consultant
07792 075 748
philknight@pch.uk.com

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Martial Arts training as you age

I took my usual karate class on Monday evening. As it's the Easter holidays we were not at our usual school dojo but rather a local church hall replacement instead. Again with the holidays there were lower numbers so I tend to run the 30 minute beginner class in with my main class and train for just 90 minutes total instead of two hours.

The first 30 minutes including the beginners by definition needed to be super easy but afterwards we really made up for it with a set of five repetitions each of press ups, squats, sit ups and either star jumps or squat thrusts increasing from around 40 individual exercises in the first rep. to over 175 in the final one - all done one after the other with a 20 second rest period after each set. Then we went on to kata at full speed. An excellent and challenging session.

Only problem is on Wednesday (now) my thighs are so loaded with lactic acid I can barely walk ! That's the main effect of age I find. It takes a little longer for the after effects of a strong session to hit me and then the ache lingers a day longer than it ever did before - great fun.

Although I'm guessing the 4.5 miles I ran on Tuesday morning first thing didn't help either !

Ho Hum, just about to set off for my 90 minute Wednesday karate training session then I have the cinema with the family at 8.10pm - will be ready to drop by the time I get home around mid-night I expect !

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The three St(ages) of martial arts training

Over the years I have come to realise that as one gets older (I'm 46 BTW) the way one participates in sport changes. Certainly there are physical changes, I no longer bounce back quite as quickly following a training session and gone are the days when I'd run up to the sports centre (carrying my gear in a backpack) do a 90 minute circuit training session, 2 hour karate class then run home. It's also true what they say about losing pace. My mind works just as fast but my body no longer responds quite in the way I want it to, when I need it to.

From a psychological stand-point too things change. When I started karate at the age of 10 I was all youthful exuberance and a strict A to B mentality. Fight not going my way, fight harder. Technique not coming off - do more until it eventually gave in to me. Not getting the point from an instructor, listen but almost certainly think I know better and do it my way when he wasn't watching. This stage lasted well past my first dan grading (at 16) and into my 20's.

But then life slows you down. You begin to realise that not all things need to be met by brute force. You realise that one can change your approach to fighting to match and exceed an appoint, not by pure power necessarily but rather a more subtle implementation of power backed by experience. This second stage of training is matched by physical maturity and peak ability. Truly the journey along the path of marital arts is well underway. My personal experience is  also that this second age/stage of martial arts training is also the point at which many of my contemporaries (myself included) graded to more senior Dan grades. An acknowledgement by our instructors that we had learned more than just the basics and were coming to realise something of the ethos of karate and perhaps, life in general.

My personal belief is that this second stage is as far as some students of the martial arts ever progress - yes they get older but they do not progress further in their journey. They begin to lose their physical ability without adding to their martial arts skills -  older then is not necessarily wiser therefore. I was very much in this camp for a long time. At one point I briefly gave up martial arts (between 2006 and 2010) but when I came back I learned important lessons about humility and my own hubris that (I think) enabled me to move on to the third stage. Starting a new style of karate I trained with the same mindset I'd had as a second dan at my old club whilst I was a beginner in the new style. Session after session I trained in my old ways, listening to the Sensei but never quite getting it. In the end my body told me I'd have to listen, learn new ways to breath and move and hey presto I began to progress.

Sensei Phil (centre) with students circa 2014

I can remember staggering out of the dojo one time in late 2010, having done a mere 20 minutes of free form kumite with a variety of partners. So exhausted that I actually got changed out of my Gi and into my street clothes laying on my back on the floor (I am not exaggerating !) - this was the point I realised, once I had rehydrated and recovered my wits that I needed a new mindset - yes to use my legacy skills from another style of karate, yes to to build on what I had but also to think about how the new style might work for me and I it - this brought a new clarity and focus to both my training in the dojo but also my outside approach to things like running and research around the new style - reaching this third, more informed stage is about getting older. It is admitting to yourself that in your mid 40's you can't train like a teenager. Nor can you imagine that the world will bend to every technique you throw - fighting stops being a physical challenge and becomes a cerebral one. Chess writ across a blocking arm, whipping roundhouse and avoided sweep. That's not to say the physical challenge stops, as an instructor I am still obliged to lead from the front. Able to undertake all aspects of the training better than my students but able to rationalise and accept that I'm probably going to ache as much as they will the following morning.

Lastly this stage of my martial arts career is being able to admit that I may not be able to train in the way I do now in the future - I will need to back off at some point and consider other options. It is interesting to note looking in the mirror (seeing the grey hairs for example) that I'm now almost exactly the same age as my first instructor : Sensei Ben Warren was when I first started training under him in 1980. A bit of an eye opener as to the cyclical nature of both martial arts and life.

Sensei Phil Knight
Club Instructor
Leeds Premier Karate - Yeadon Dojo
www.yeadonkarate.weebly.com

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Excellent Martial Arts podcast for you to try

As regular readers of the blog may know I am a martial artist and run a dojo in Leeds training Shukokai karate. I also have another (2nd Dan) black belt in Tai Sabaki Do karate a Wado Ryu based self defence style.

Karate takes up a fair amount of my spare time between actually training and keeping fit - at 46 simply turning up to work out is no longer even remotely possible especially as the instructor where I need to be a step or two ahead of my students.

I though you might be interested in a marital arts podcast I recently found - Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio - search for it on iTunes or click here. I love both the format, a relatively simply interview with a martial artist twice a week but also Jeremy the host has a solid range of questions which seem to get more from his guests - he focuses on martial arts stories, the lessons it teaches us, over-coming difficulties and so forth - all the good stuff which in some ways is missing from the lives of those who have never tried out martial arts.

Have a listen and if you're ever in Leeds please feel free to drop by and train - first two lessons in my dojo are always free !

Sensei Phil

Yep that's me, mid kata - Pinan GoDan to be precise


Monday, 13 March 2017

The government has no idea what self employed people do

I've worked as a self employed person for some seven years now and it still puzzles me how some people do not understand what it is like to be self employed.

To start off, lets look at the UK Conservative government who are proposing to increase national insurance for the self employed. This (they tell us) and despite an election pledge not to increase any NI costs is because the tax discrepancy between employees and the self employed is no longer necessary. It is outdated and somehow unfair for employees. I'd like to ask in what way unfair ?

Let me re-frame the discussion.

I am delighted to pay for more NI. I'm looking forward to starting to receive the following :

paid leave
paid bank holidays
statutory sick pay
work place pension
minimum weekly hours
minimum wage

Until such time as those things are made available to those of us small business people and entrepreneurs who form the back bone of the economy then we damn well should be paying less in tax.

Now before I get complaints that NI is actually for the NHS and other social benefits I would say. That's nonsense. No tax in the UK is hypothecated any longer - NI is just another tax.

I also get frustrated by employees who work for companies who seem to (often deliberately) misunderstand what being self employed is all about. Let's put it like this. If I don't get out of bed on a morning I don't get to earn any money. If I don't do the work, all of the work then it doesn't get done and again I don't get paid. Employees have the luxury (within reason) of allowing the work to expand to fill the time available and they still get paid their salary. The self employed do not have that luxury and each extra soul destroying piece of admin we are required to conform to simply adds more and more unproductive time to our day.


Friday, 3 March 2017

Holistic advice in the medical insurance space

Within my medical insurance practice I work with a range of different types of clients. Primarily high net worth individual clients and small companies (3 to 250 employees).

However I have a wide spectrum of individual, self employed and corporate clients and would be delighted to chat to anyone who is interested in new cover or a review of their existing arrangements.

Many of my clients are introduced to me via professional introducers : IFA's, General Brokers, Accountants and other business contacts

As you can see from my personal page on my compliance providers website (www.pch.uk.com/consultants/phil-d-knight/) I do advise on a wide range of products within the medical insurance space including : individual and family private medical insurance (PMI), company paid PMI, international PMI, personal, voluntary and company sponsored Hospital Cash Plans, Dental Insurance, Employee Assistance Programs and Health Screening.

I also have contacts within my professional introducer clients who can assist with virtually every financial service from pensions and investment advice, general commercial insurance, accountancy, HR solutions and a number of others.

If you'd like assistance with your medical insurance needs or a helpful pointer to a trusted contact please feel free to contact me.

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
07792 075748
philknight@pch.uk.com

Friday, 24 February 2017

Building a better business Podcast

This is an article that I wrote today and tried to put on LinkedIn but I was unable to ascertain if it went live or not. Just in case here it is in it's entirety : -
A few years ago I created a podcast called : PMICast designed to discuss issues around my medical insurance intermediary practice. It was intended to have a dual purpose. Firstly to (obviously) drive potential customers to my business but also to provide information and support across a range of issues around the UK private medical insurance (PMI) market. It was then and still is on the only podcast ever to have focused on this particular area of insurance business. Over the years I recorded, usually every two or three weeks and ended up with a library of 68 episodes, all of which are all still available for download on the web or iTunes (other pod catchers are of course available and I'm registered with most). I also built up a good listener base and at the peak I was regularly having several thousand people download and listen the the podcast.
The original format of the show changed slightly as it became harder to introduce new, relevant content and I ended up, still with the focus on PMI but I tied the show more into my business blog as well which allowed me to discuss a few different issues but keep the content relevant to my core audience. You can find my blog at :
www.localventure.blogspot.com
If you're interested in checking it out you will find that the blog is less devoted to medical insurance and reflects PMI, my business point of view and some of my personal interests as well. Whilst not directly relevant to my comments to follow on the podcast, the blog might be of interest for you to understand where I am coming from.
Over the last say three years the podcast and blog in tandem have raised my profile both with clients and professional introducers to my business (mainly IFA's, accountants and General Brokers). I have placed business with new clients due to these social media outlets and also put in place some important and very lucrative business contacts, directly as a result as well. This brings me to my problem ... the time involved in running my business has increased in part because of the success of the podcast and I've had less and less free time to concentrate on social media plus planning and recording the podcast. Also as other business priorities take over I have felt less inclined to search out interesting content to podcast. So on the rare occasion when I do find 30 minutes to spare to record an episode I found the content I might have to talk about to be dull and uninspiring. The thing is though that I know that having the podcast out there and regular makes my business really unique, adds real value and I can use it to further expand my business which is still definitely a priority for me moving forwards into 2017 and beyond.
With all of the above in mind I have decided to shift the focus of the podcast away from pure coverage of PMI (although I will stress that the name will remain unchanged and I will still want to feature content about my practice and medical insurance) and introduce other elements/discussions of business more generally, perhaps even with a bit of other relevant current affairs and technology news thrown in for good measure. I'm therefore working on a plan and outline strategy for a new pilot of episode #69 of the podcast. However I do wonder if this 're-invigoration' of the show might be assisted by the introduction of a new voice literally. What I'm therefore hoping to do is find a like-minded co-host for the new show. I'm looking for someone with an interest in business, current affairs and technology who (preferably) also owns their own business. That way we can offer the opinions of two entrepreneurs (hopefully from differing business sectors), set up some more dynamic content that provides for interesting content for listeners whilst at the same time gets the word about both of our businesses out there on-line.
Hopefully then this is a great opportunity for someone (probably aged between 30 and 50, male or female ) to join me and drive the project forward. There is no catch. No payment required. I will record the show (probably using a Skype call once a week or more likely fortnightly) and put it up live and then we can both be involved in the marketing and planning of future episodes if things click.
If you think that you might be interested visit the blog : www.localventure.blogspot.com to find out more about me. Then use pmicast@gmail.com to send me a message. You'll also find me on Twitter : @localventure1 and of course here on LinkedIn
Can't wait to hear back !
Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant + Podcasting Guru

Reinvigorating the podcast

You can find my business podcast on iTunes by searching for 'PMICast' (other pod catchers are of course available and I'm registered with most of them). You can also listen direct here : www.pmicast.podbean.com.

I launched the podcast some years ago and arrived at episode 68 a month or two ago but being honest have struggled because of work to find time to really get many episodes out. The problem is time but also getting content relevant and interesting enough (for me or listeners) to be bothered about recording an episode. At the moment I've got piles of ideas but still not a massive amount of interest. Thing is, I know it's something that I should still be doing regularly. It helps with profile and client/introducer acquisition and when on a roll can be quite fun.

I'm considering therefore changing the format of the podcast a little and seeing if I can find someone else to co-host the show with me. That would almost certainly mean I'd change the focus away from pure medical insurance onto more of a general 'about business/entrepreneurship' type affair. I have a pretty loyal band of listeners (several thousand listeners per month were regularly downloading it at it's height) and with some more consistent content it could benefit both my business and potentially also my co-hosts !

If you're interested in chatting about potentially working with me on this I'm happy to accept 'open auditions' from any one in the UK interested in the following topics - business, current affairs, insurance and possibly a bit of technology and science fiction (both personal interests) - an odd blend but it takes all sorts. If you have your own business then so much the better.

Call on : 07792 075748 or e-mail me : pkn4395@gmail.com for more information or to discuss.

Cheers

Phil Knight

How to avoid discrimination during recruitment

Here's another guest post from my colleague Mark at Croner - his details are at the bottom of the piece. If you do contact him as a result of reading about the issues here please do let him know where you found him. Thanks
Phil
Piece begins ....

A recent BBC report has found that a job seeker with an ‘English-sounding name’ was offered three times the number of interviews as an identical applicant with a ‘Muslim name’.
CVs were sent from fake candidates “Mohamed Allam” and “Adam Henton”, with four interviews offered to Mohamed, and twelve to Adam.
The recent report concurs with previous academic reports concerning the matter, which have found that British Muslims are less proportionately represented in managerial and professional occupations than any other religious group.
Following the findings, and considering academic results before it, Croner’s Head of Legal Advisory, Paul Holcroft, warns that inadvertent discrimination can bring the same severity of consequences as deliberate discrimination.
“The recent report is worrying for employers for a number of reasons. The findings have attracted a lot of attention from various sources because they have been highlighted on well-known platforms, like the BBC.
“In actual fact, mindless discrimination happens on a daily basis. If an employer chooses to disregard one CV in favour of another, they must have tangible and solid evidence as to why they have made that decision.
“Even though we have seen Employment Tribunal claims drop dramatically since the introduction of fees, if a claimant believes that they have been discriminated against, even at the very early stages of a recruitment process, it’s going to be very difficult for an employer to form a solid argument if they lack evidence.
Given the sheer volume of CVs that an employer may deal with when recruiting for a position, it is clear to see the immediate difficulty with documenting the thought process behind rejecting or selecting an application, let alone remembering it.
Paul advises: “Recording all decisions throughout the recruitment process will bring extra admin work and time initially, which I would assume is what puts a majority of employers off.
“Having said that, the time that an Employment Tribunal can span is unattainable, so in the grand scheme of things, keeping sufficient notes when sifting through applications would most likely not compare to a fraction of the time, effort or money a Tribunal would demand.”
Amanda Beattie, Croner Litigation Field Manager, reminds: “Under the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”), one of the protected characteristics afforded protection from discrimination is Religion and Belief. However, the other protected characteristics under the Act can also be relevant and susceptible to discrimination in the recruitment process.
“Under the Act, it is unlawful to directly discriminate against a person by treating them less favourably than they would treat others because of their religion or belief or another of the protected characteristics. Similarly, it is unlawful to indirectly discriminate against a person by applying a provision, criteria or practice (“PCP”), which puts that person and others who all hold a certain religion or belief or another protected characteristic at a disadvantage, which is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”
Employers should remember that the Act applies equally to employees, workers and job applicants. Therefore, it is important for employers to keep accurate records of why job applicants were unsuccessful and ensure that the reason for the rejection is not discriminatory.
Mark Russell
Business Manager
Croner

Phone: 07976 948 441

Don't forget to send your insurance forms in

Everyone is really busy these days and my clients especially. They tend to be high net worth individuals, company directors, senior clinicians and so forth. This means that they always have a lot going on and filling in forms and remembering to send them back to me isn't always their top priority.

Obviously as advising on medical insurance is my living I have a different priority which is to chase those clients who need to let me have their forms back regularly so as to ensure they don't forget. I have a pretty robust diary system and generally chase clients once every week or two until they eventually come back to me. However it is not unheard of for people to forget altogether and I of course can only chase for so long.

Please remember then that (and I know it sounds as if I'm stating the obvious here) if you don't send the form back you won't have cover in place. It is not unheard of for me to chase a client over and over again for a form. Eventually give up, tell the client I have filed the papers and then at some point in time get a call from them wanting to make a claim but they can't seem to find their insurance membership information - this doesn't happen often but I've had it several times over the years and as you might imagine it can be difficult conversation, especially given I'm essentially having to confirm that not only can they not claim but that they're also a bit of a poor administrator into the process !

I've written about this issue before here and mentioned it several times on my podcast (click here for information or to listen). 

I raise the issue here on the blog (again) because I have a prospective client who first contacted me for a new medical insurance report and overview in March 2014 and since then I have written three reports for him, re-priced the cover at least five times and e-mailed him at least 50 times in total (plus had several telephone conversations) and am still to receive the completed application forms back and I just know that this gentleman is one of the very busy but slightly disorganised people who might think he's done it and sent it on to me whereas in fact the form is sat completed in a pile on his desk.

I've just sent him a reminder e-mail - hopefully he might read and respond to this one.

So please, clients don't ignore my e-mails !

Thursday, 23 February 2017

What is a company handbook ?

Here's a brief guest post put together for me by a colleague : Mark  from Croner - a HR services company.

__________


What is an Employee Handbook

Some companies have them, some don't. A majority have had them written many years ago and in some cases the policies are now out of date.

Whilst there are no specific employers' duties in respect of an employee handbook, the content should include set rules and guidelines the employer would like all employees to adhere to.

The handbook, unlike contracts of employment, is a uniform document that is issued to all employees regardless of position or job role.

The main purpose of the handbook is to define clear policies and procedures which reflects the ethos and style of a particular organisation and consolidate its organisational values.

When issuing an employee handbook, either in hard copy or online, the employer is providing all employees with a resource which can be easily referred to at any point by the employee.

The Employee Handbook is one of the most important tools for communication between employer and employee.

To find out what policies and procedures should be in yours, or if you have any concerns regarding your HR, you can call me on 07976948441 or visit Croner for more information and ask us how we can assist your organisation to streamline your HR

Mark Russell
Business Development Manager 

A catch up post ...

Couple of things I wanted to get off my chest.

Firstly Storm Debra or Deirdre or whatever the Met Office are calling it is about to hit Scotland and the North of England with (apparently) gusts of wind up to 90 mph but averaging around 50 mph and snow (30 cm on high ground in Scotland) rain and so forth. This storm has been headline news on all the breakfast shows. My question is though, isn't it supposed to be cold, windy and snowy in Winter ? Suck it up guys, this is simply the usual British weather. In other breaking news this morning : water is wet, dogs hate cats and Donald Trump is still a liar.

It's starting to get to me in shops when you pay on your debit card and the assistant asks me if I want my receipt. Two things. Firstly if I don't take the receipt how will I remember to deduct the money from my bank account balance to know how much money I have left and secondly with no receipt how do I prove, if asked, that I paid for goods and didn't shoplift them ?

Monday, 13 February 2017

Medical insurance for high net worth clients

The business of advising clients on their medical insurance requirements is a relatively complex task based primarily around the mixing of clients health and lifestyle requirements  with a set of insurance products which vary widely in benefit construction and administration/claims by the various insurance companies. As clients get older and more financially secure the level of involvement and support tends to increase.

Although I work with a very wide range of personal and corporate clients as my practice has grown and developed over the years I have tended more and more in the personal sector to look after senior professionals and high net worth (HNW) types of clients.

The basic premise of finding suitable cover at the right price for these kinds of client is at its most basic no different from advising any other client, however there are some additional factors to bear in mind :

1) Personal 'foibles' and fact-finding - one doesn't get to be successful and accumulate a degree of personal wealth without knowing your own mind and perhaps developing some idiosyncracies. This means that when fact-finding one has to bear in mind that the kinds of questions you need to ask will be subtly different. This will usually mean that a HNW client will possibly already have medical insurance cover in place and have extremely clear thoughts about what they do and don't like about products and insurers. If they are new to medical insurance it might be a requirement for a specific benefit or access to one more expensive hospital or a particular consultant they want to see in the future. Regardless, the fact-finding process which always sits at the centre of client advice really becomes an art form and not a science.

2) Available income - price is going to be an issue with any client as medical insurance is a commoditised product whether we like it or not. However the wealthier a client the less likely they are to actually need or want PMI. Think of it like this : private medical treatment is expensive and most of us wouldn't dream of paying tens of thousands of pounds for a hip replacement or £ 600 or £ 700 for an MRI scan. However if you are wealthy and have large amounts of disposable cash then perhaps you can afford to simply pay treatment providers direct for the best treatment. That said in my experience HNW clients are always canny about their health and wealth. They can understand the value of medical insurance cover for high value claim items and wish to insure against future possible medical problems. This means that their cover will typically include very comprehensive benefits for in-patient and day case cover (the more expensive elements of PMI costs) but often they will self insure for initial diagnostics and out-patient investigations. This means typically that a HNW client will make maximum use of those insurers who might offer flexible, modular based products.

3) Treating the Customer Fairly - this is a central tenet of all insurance sales these days and rightly so. I think though that it is worth stating that the average HNW client probably expects more from their representatives and as a result can be more work to stay on top of. This isn't necessarily a problem, it just means that with this kind of client one cannot take a hands off approach and leave things to chance - the client drives the business and how it is transacted.

4) Insurer service - there are some insurers who are more 'bureaucratic' than others. Not a problem - every business has the right to run it's internal practices as they wish This means though that I might tend not to select some companies for a more demanding client. In practice my HNW clients tend to favour the smaller, more customer focused insurers anyway. These smaller or newer players in the market tend to keep red tape to a minimum and can make good homes for discerning clients. That's not to say that the larger insurers won't necessarily feature in a review for a HNW clients. It simply means that other insurers who might be a little more expensive tend to compete on a more even playing field.

5) Going that extra mile - as a last thought, you might imagine that as HNW clients are more work and do require more support that one needs to constantly ingratiate oneself and be seen to be working hard on their behalf. In fact in my experience nothing could be farther from the truth. They need things to happen quickly and quietly behind the scenes and a good HNW client is one who expects things to happen for them and when it does, without fuss that is the way to keep them happy in the longer term.

If you are a client who needs advice on medical insurance (and related cover) regardless of how much you earn or are worth - let me know on :

07792 075748

or

philknight@pch.uk.com

Whether you are a Lord, Landlord or simple Mister or Missus I would be happy to help you with your medical insurance cover.

If you're an IFA, Accountant or general broker who wants an easier life and perhaps to subcontract your medical insurance business to a specialist, again I can help.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Don't worry about Donald Trump

Throughout the 2016 US Presidential debate we were all dismissing the misogynist, racist, ever so slightly facist elements of Donald Trumps personality on the basis that firstly he probably wouldn't win (oops) and then, as the Hilary CIA e-mail story broke and no one seemed bothered about him admitting sexual assaults on camera, on the basis that the checks and balances in place plus real life common sense would kick in and some of his more manic campaign trail promises would be diluted when he gained office.

Not so much so far !

You only have to look this weekend at the immigration and refugee omni-shambles that is on-going to understand that every thing Trump says or does is for real. It might be insane or illogical but if he says it he is considering doing it.

The silliest yet most sinister wall ever to be considered is going to be built. An edifice to his ego and momnumental lack of understanding that both the ladder and the tunnel have been invented.

This brings me to the point of my post. We've all seen this before. Who imagined that when Senator Palpatine ordered Annakin Skywalker to kill all the youngling that he might go on to make a good Emperor. Did the Senate really believe turning to a strongman dictator would improve human (alien) rights for the Galaxy ? Ask all those poor people on Aldaran - oh, wait a minute you can't. They were destroyed by the Emperors New Toy - a planet sized folly of a construct, created to bring 'peace and proseperity' to the Empire which had a fundamental design flaw.

See any parallels - who would have thought that Star Wars could ever become a parallel for modern America ?

Fortunately I live on a little frontier planet called Tattoine England - nothing could ever happen that could involve us in the Galactic Rebellion, could it ?

Monday, 23 January 2017

Alternative Facts = Lies

Obviously over the weekend I have been mulling over Donald Trump's new press secretary and his some what relaxed approach to the truth in terms of the numbers of people who attended the Inauguration on Friday of last week.

This approach to truth was subsequently presented by Kellyanne Conway on NBC (follow this link) as 'alternative facts' and she was (eventually) called on this by the reporter who pointed out that they were in fact false-hoods.

I suspect we need to get used to this sort of thing now that black is white and the moon is in fact a painting on the roof of the giant dome in which we now obviously live.

I just wish alternative facts had existed in 1986 - might have gotten more 'O' Levels myself !

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Welcome to 2017

First post of the New Year and being 100% honest I have been slightly remiss with my social media updates over the Festive Season - very busy with work work at the moment so can'r promise that January is going to be any better.

Can I take this opportunity to wish my loyal readers a Happy New Year and thanks for your on-going support.

Have started the year as 'Mister Angry' though, a local Skip company (their depot is just down the road from my house) and for years we've avoided their (very large) skip trucks careening around the neighbourhood. This morning they nearly ran me and my dog over when speeding so I've complained - no reply yet !

Love a good moan at authority though !!!

Keep an eye on my @localventure1 twitter feed for blog and other updates.