Pol­i­cy­hold­ers’ best in­ter­ests at heart

RISKSA Magazine - - CAREER -

“The im­por­tance of equip­ping staff with the knowl­edge nec­es­sary to deliver out­stand­ing cus­tomer ser­vice can­not be em­pha­sised enough.”

– SAIA Code of Con­duct.

Mod­ern codes of con­duct spell out ‘ best prac­tice in sales’

Mod­ern codes of con­duct spell out ‘ best prac­tice in sales’ – what may be con­sid­ered pro­fes­sional be­hav­iour and leav­ing very lit­tle room for mis­un­der­stand­ing. Hav­ing the pol­i­cy­hold­ers’ best in­ter­ests at heart means ren­der­ing ad­vice within the pa­ram­e­ters of the law, based on trust, con­fi­den­tial­ity, fair deal­ing and no per­sonal gain or self- in­ter­est.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives must be prop­erly qual­i­fied to of­fer ad­vice

Un­der­stand­ing the rights and re­course of pol­i­cy­hold­ers is a cru­cial com­po­nent in rep­re­sen­ta­tive train­ing. Oc­ca­sion­ally, dis­putes arise around spe­cific is­sues where the in­surer’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive should be in a po­si­tion to of­fer ad­vice and re­solve the dis­pute quickly and ef­fi­ciently.

With an oner­ous level of reg­u­la­tion, it is im­por­tant to bal­ance the safe­guard­ing of con­sumers with busi­ness ob­jec­tives

The ex­tent to which fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and per­sons in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­try must con­tend to­day with gov­ern­ing leg­is­la­tion is enor­mous and grow­ing. There is a con­sid­er­able amount of leg­is­la­tion, in­clud­ing much that is new or re­cently amended, and it is dif­fi­cult to grasp the im­pact of it all. This can be ar­du­ous, but when it comes to im­ple­men­ta­tion, it is im­por­tant to sus­tain a healthy bal­ance that both safe­guards con­sumer pro­tec­tion and meets busi­ness ob­jec­tives.

TCF is an ex­am­ple of such reg­u­la­tion

The Treat­ing Cus­tomers Fairly ( TCF) reg­u­la­tory regime is now go­ing full steam ahead un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the FSB. One of the goals of TCF is to en­sure that con­sumers un­der­stand the ben­e­fits and risks of fi­nan­cial prod­ucts. This re­quires giv­ing clients clear in­for­ma­tion about the prod­ucts. The clients must fully un­der­stand what they are pur­chas­ing.

Plain lan­guage is an im­por­tant el­e­ment of TCF

TCF will have to go hand in hand with the plain lan­guage re­quire­ment. Sec­tion 22 of the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act is very clear in this

re­gard. The Code of Con­duct also stip­u­lates that poli­cies, dis­clo­sures and re­quire­ments should be pre­sented in plain lan­guage in or­der for the client to be able to make an in­formed de­ci­sion. Ter­mi­nol­ogy and lan­guage should be clear and not am­bigu­ous. The Pro­tec­tion of Per­sonal In­for­ma­tion Bill is an­other rel­e­vant piece of leg­is­la­tion One of the most sig­nif­i­cant ef­fects of Pro­tec­tion of Per­sonal In­for­ma­tion Bill ( POPI) will be the in­tro­duc­tion of com­pre­hen­sive and ded­i­cated data pro­tec­tion leg­is­la­tion. This is likely to im­pose heavy com­pli­ance bur­dens on South African com­pa­nies and pub­lic bod­ies. Data pro­tec­tion has been an is­sue for some time in the de­vel­oped world, but it’s a rel­a­tively new con­cept for South Africa, even though the right to pri­vacy is en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion.

One of the prime ob­jec­tives of The Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Laws Gen­eral Amend­ment Bill ( Om­nibus Bill) is to en­sure and ad­dress South Africa’s com­pli­ance with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of fi­nan­cial leg­is­la­tion. POPI was en­acted 26 Novem­ber 2013 and will be pro­mul­gated on a date yet to be de­ter­mined by the pres­i­dent. Once the act com­mences, we will have a year to con­form to its re­quire­ments. POPI pro­tects per­sonal in­for­ma­tion by restrict­ing how the in­for­ma­tion may be col­lected, used and stored.

This means that we will have to en­sure that ad­e­quate in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity pro­to­cols are in place in ev­ery area of our busi­ness where there is gath­er­ing, se­cur­ing and use of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. Client in­for­ma­tion can be shared only as stip­u­lated by law, as ap­proved by the client, in the pub­lic in­ter­est or for crime com­bat­ing pur­poses. In all other in­stances, client in­for­ma­tion will re­main en­tirely con­fi­den­tial.

The ad­vice- giv­ing pro­ce­dure in­cor­po­rates the needs anal­y­sis, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of prod­ucts, of­fer­ing of prod­ucts and pro­vid­ing the client with the op­por­tu­nity to de­cline a prod­uct. The party ob­tain­ing the in­for­ma­tion must im­ple­ment pro­ce­dures to en­sure that the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is up­dated where nec­es­sary, ac­cu­rate, com­plete and not mis­lead­ing as this is the in­for­ma­tion on which the is­sue of the ad­vice will be based.

It is es­sen­tial for or­gan­i­sa­tions to have staff aware­ness and man­age­ment train­ing pro­grammes in place to en­sure that all staff have a good un­der­stand­ing of their obli­ga­tions un­der POPI and re­lated laws.

These are but two ex­am­ples of the com­plex­ity and vol­ume of com­pli­ance within the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment that need to be taken into ac­count when pro­vid­ing sound fi­nan­cial ad­vice. And, the right con­sult­ing means the right ad­vice.

Cur­rent eco­nomic cir­cum­stances raise the spec­tre of aver­age and mak­ing clients aware of the dan­gers is cru­cial It is not only the ris­ing fuel price that is mak­ing con­sumers gasp. The value of many house­hold goods has also sky­rock­eted, leav­ing many pol­i­cy­hold­ers with in­suf­fi­cient cover. In­fla­tion and the de­pre­ci­a­tion of the Rand could have se­ri­ous con­se­quences if clients don’t keep up with chang­ing re­place­ment val­ues.

Many cat­e­gories of goods, es­pe­cially con­sumer elec­tron­ics and en­gi­neer­ing equip­ment, are im­ported. Ad­verse ex­change rates also push up the lo­cal price of items such as com­puter hard­ware and soft­ware, and man­u­fac­tur­ing plant and equip­ment.

The de­pre­ci­a­tion of the Rand against the Euro, South Africa’s ma­jor trade cur­rency, as well as against the Dol­lar and the Pound, im­pacts not only on con­sumers’ wal­lets, but also on their in­sur­ance cover – a fact many pol­i­cy­hold­ers over­look. Con­stant vig­i­lance is needed to keep un­der- in­sur­ance at bay.

A client’s un­der­stand­ing of the prod­uct is cru­cial. A close re­la­tion­ship with your client will help to bet­ter an­a­lyse their needs and con­vey the suit­able prod­uct ben­e­fits

For many in­sur­ance buy­ers, en­ter­ing into a con­tract is very daunt­ing. Highly tech­ni­cal with pages of small print and con­fus­ing jar­gon … it’s too easy for con­sumers to sign on the dot­ted line with­out re­ally know­ing to what they’ve just com­mit­ted. This is where the ser­vices of a rep­utable bro­ker or in­ter­me­di­ary are in­dis­pens­able.

If a client is search­ing to get cover, or to change it, it’s worth in­sist­ing that the bro­ker does the nec­es­sary ground­work. It re­mains the clients’ pre­rog­a­tive to cre­ate clar­ity and struc­ture. Give some se­ri­ous thought to what they re­ally need as the ben­e­fits of a close re­la­tion­ship with your cus­tomers should never be over­looked.

This ex­er­cise should help your client un­der­stand that you are putting them in the pic­ture, and why you are rec­om­mend­ing cer­tain op­tions, with their best in­ter­ests at heart. This ap­proach fol­lows a part­ner­ship model that will lead to bet­ter be­hav­iour. Ded­i­cate time to the client to build a re­la­tion­ship of trust. Be client- cen­tric, giv­ing full at­ten­tion to de­tail, with a view to de­liv­er­ing ap­pro­pri­ate so­lu­tions. There is no one- size- fits- all ap­proach.

The ob­jec­tive must be to deliver the best so­lu­tions for a client’s chang­ing needs

The ob­jec­tive must be to pro­vide new and dis­tinc­tive so­lu­tions that ad­dress and ben­e­fit ev­ery client’s ever- chang­ing needs, tak­ing into ac­count the ever- chang­ing leg­isla­tive land­scape.

Jo­han Wol­huter Port­fo­lio Man­ager at Re­nasa In­sur­ance Com­pany Limited Klerks­dorp

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.