Skills & Experience
The government’s recent paper, ‘Fuller Working Lives’, warned that while the average age of people leaving the labour market has increased over the past two decades, it is still lower than it was in 1950 and is not keeping pace with increases in life expectancy. The scale of early exits in combination with an ageing population will inevitably challenge the U.K. economy in areas such as, the financing of state pensions and maintaining the supply of necessary skills.
Andy Briggs, Aviva CEO, is the government’s appointment as business champion for older workers and chairs the Business in the Community’s Age at Work leadership team. As such, he has called on employers to increase the number of older people in the UK workforce to combat age bias and address skills shortages (http:www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/the-hr-challenges- of- an-ageing-workforce).
Meanwhile, insurance has inevitably changed dramatically over the years. It is essentially a statistics-based industry and the ever-accelerating technological developments have simplified, not just the processing of business, but also risk assessment.
Potential customers can readily access comparative quotes for their private car or house through a single comparison site, customising their cover where required (such as voluntary excesses) and including additional products and services (such as breakdown cover and legal expenses). Service centres are common in the industry with many being based overseas to take advantage of lower salaries, readily available skills and effective electronic communications.
The ‘numbers machines’ replace staff.
So how do these two issues come together?
Whilst policyholders receive proof of the cover in force for their property, what they are really buying is ‘peace of mind’. The belief that in the event of a claim, someone will facilitate their ‘return to normality’ quickly and efficiently. Which assumes that they have bought the right cover for themselves initially.
Many products are, and others will become, commoditised and the consequent lower prices are attractive. However, there are areas where individual circumstances do not fit the ‘boxes’ provided. ‘People buy people’. People like the reassurance of talking to someone who listens and understands them. Ultimately, people are people and not numbers.
Hence the need for experience and skills, not just of insurance but of life.
At M R Ratcliffe Insurance Brokers, 43% of the staff are over 35 and 28% over 45 – and the staff like to talk to customers.