MetLife has launched several initiatives to support advisers and their clients, including advice on the FASEA exam, redesigning Income Cover, launching 360Health Virtual Care, hosting a series of mental health discussions and promoting the Value of Life Insurance.

In brief: MetLife’s adviser support in 2021

  • Helped advisers prepare for the FASEA exam with a series of webinars;
  • Redesigned Income Cover to meet APRA's new IDII sustainability measures while meeting adviser and client needs;
  • Promoted the Value of Life Insurance through a webinar series and report about the positive contributions of the sector;
  • Launched 360Health Virtual Care, which is available to advisers and their clients at no extra cost;
  • Contributed to, and continued, the conversation on mental health among advisers, including events and podcasts.

MetLife's support for advisers through FASEA exams and regulatory changes

Q&A with Jeff Scott, Head of Advice Strategy at MetLife Australia:

Q: You've been active in supporting advisers through the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) exam. Where do these exams fit into advisers' ongoing education requirements?

Jeff: Advisers must complete four components to meet their ongoing education requirements:

  • Each year they need to earn Continuing Professional Points;
  • By January 1, 2026, they must have what's called an AQF 7 qualification or greater, which is a bachelor's degree or equivalent;
  • They must abide by the FASEA code of ethics;
  • They must pass the FASEA exam, and the deadline for most advisers to pass the exam was December 31, 2021.

Q: What if an adviser hasn't passed the exam by December 31?

Jeff: Senator Jane Hume (Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy) announced that any advisers who had failed the exam twice by the end of 2021 has until September 20, 2022 to pass. This decision acknowledged the additional pressures of the pandemic. Some advisers have been given a reprieve. But any who hadn't sat the exam at all, or only attempted it once and weren't successful, will no longer be able to provide financial planning advice to clients from January 1, 2022.

Q. What motivated you to create a series of webinars for advisers to help them prepare for the FASEA exam?

Jeff: MetLife is here to support advisers. I deal with advisers regularly and like to keep my qualifications up to speed, so after I sat the exam in September 2019, I realised how tough it would be for anyone who isn't familiar with exam situations. I'm a lifelong nerd: I've studied and lectured most of my life. If you haven't sat any exams since high school, I can see it would be a daunting experience. So, I wanted to share some exam study skills, advice on what the exam environment is like, and how to prepare, which will hopefully help more advisers get over the line.

Q: What are some of the main lessons shared with advisers?

Jeff: The big lesson was on what to study, supported by access to existing FASEA resources. We helped advisers think about how you do the exam when you have between two to three minutes to read each case study, then read and respond to the question. Getting used to that pacing is important when you have a lot of questions to get through in the three-and-a-half-hour exam.

Q: MetLife redesigned Income Cover in 2021 to ensure it complied with APRA’s new sustainability measures for Individual Disability Income Insurance. What were the main changes?

Jeff:

  1. Income replacement ratio – before October 1, most policies in the market had a 75 per cent ratio. Under the new rules, MetLife could set the replacement ratio at 90 per cent for the first six months if a client chooses that option, then continue with 70 per cent.
  2. Capability clause – if a person can work in their own occupation but chooses not to, then we can adjust their benefits based on the hours they could have worked.

Q: What feedback have you had from advisers about these changes?

Jeff: Advisers tell us the MetLife Protect and MetLife Protect Super product is one of the best in the marketplace based on the new changes. They've pointed out that some of the things we didn't do – which our competitors did – was change the assessment criteria from ‘own occupation’ to ‘any occupation’. We keep the ‘own occupation’ definition through the duration of the policy. And we retain the 70 per cent income replacement ratio for the duration, too – other companies drop the ratio over time. So, it's been a very positive response.

Q: In 2021, MetLife published the Value of Life Insurance report, supporting it with several webinars. What benefits did you see for advisers from this campaign?

Jeff: The big message is that clients who have advisers are more secure. They're more confident about their financial future and believe they're better protected if anything should happen. The report highlights that advisers are an important part of the financial planning process, which includes insurance. The other important message is the value insurance adds to a person's wellbeing from an economic perspective. It provides a safety net for all of the objectives the financial adviser puts in place, such as paying off the mortgage, investing and saving for their children's education. Without insurance, people would have difficulty maintaining their standard of living if their only income was from the Disability Support Pension. While most people don't want to think about death or permanent disability, financial advisers ask those important questions of clients to ensure their family's financial future is secured by having insurance in place.

Q: What were some of the highlight insights of the Value of Life Insurance webinars?

Jeff: Four things hit home for me. The first was Sam Bloom's story about how her recovery would not have been possible without the insurance payout she received. She said the payments gave her and her husband the financial stability for her recovery to be possible. She didn't have to worry about financial stress. The second was a presentation by Dr Ross Walker about nutrition. Before the webinar started, he'd already chastised me for drinking a soft drink with caffeine. During the webinar, he spoke about the importance of fresh food, looking after your mental health and getting proper sleep. It's why the 360Health program we have with our partner, Teladoc, is so vital to what clients do every day. He also highlighted why it's so important to talk with your GP if you're not doing well – get help early and get back to health, because prevention is better than the cure. The third was Mark McCrindle's presentation from a demographic point of view, saying we need to be able to engage with people from various demographics. For younger customers, we need to make sure we're digitally enabled and that what we have is going to have cut through. And the fourth was Bernard Salt's insights on how we're having a ‘control alt delete’ moment, where everyone is doing a reset as we come out of the pandemic. He explained that people are now more focused on protecting what they have – and life insurance allows them to do that.

Q: How have advisers responded to the webinar series and report on the Value of Life Insurance?

Jeff: Talking with various advisers around the country, they want to have that human touch again. Something as simple as meeting a new client and shaking hands. I know I'm excited to go interstate again to see advisers, talking with them face to face and being able to engage in person. We also know people are incredibly excited about 2022. I think insurance is going to have a renaissance in 2022 because people are going to sit back and say, “I want to protect what's important to me”. Insurance is an important part of that protection process.

MetLife's 360Health Virtual Care platform for financial advisers and their clients

Q&A with Matt Lippiatt, Head of Customer Strategy at MetLife Australia:

Q: What was the strategic idea behind MetLife launching 360Health Virtual Care for financial advisers and their clients?

Matt: MetLife 360Health is our suite of value added services to help support our customers’ health holistically. As an insurer, MetLife’s moment of truth is at claim time, when somebody suffers a life event. And we know they need not only our financial assistance but broader support to help them return to health. We do a lot of great work every day for our customers in that space. But advisers told us there was a big need for education and support to empower people to take control of their health, prevent serious illness and understand their treatment options if something happens. And so 360Health Virtual Care was born from that insight – to help people manage their health more proactively.

Q: Many people believe insurance is a must-have but not something they anticipate ever claiming. Is 360Health Virtual Care something customers and advisers can access at any time?

Matt: Yes, that's correct. It’s a value-add service we provide at no extra cost to anyone with a MetLife policy* and also to all the advisers who partner with us. We're delivering something of real value to all our customers. Knowledge is power but finding trusted sources of help when it comes to our health can be tricky. 360Health Virtual Care makes this easy by connecting customers with leading health care professionals across a range of disciplines. It also offers tailored education and support to help customers get proactive about their wellbeing, especially their mental health, physical health and nutrition.

For advisers, 360Health Virtual Care can become an extension of their value proposition and it opens up new conversations with clients that go beyond financial protection. We're supporting advisers to have those conversations through webinars and educational material.

Q: Which services are especially popular?

Matt: We know the pandemic has put a great strain on people's mental health – and increased awareness of mental health issues – so people are looking for more information and support. We've found Mental Health Assist is incredibly well received by advisers and their clients. Another offering that’s popular is access to dietitians for nutritional consultation. We've all had a lot of time at home and maybe overindulged in things that aren't beneficial to our long-term health, so our Nutrition Consultation program is also in high demand.

Q: What plans are underway for 360Health in 2022?

Matt: We've had requests from advisers to build a mobile app so customers can access the 360Health Virtual Care professionals and educational resources more easily. We also have a new range of interesting new education content dropping this year. There’ll be opportunities for advisers and their clients to connect with a range of industry-leading experts through our series of webinars around topics related to health and wellness.

Q: What are some of the other big contributors to positive relationships between MetLife and financial advisers?

Matt:

First and foremost, we need to deliver consistently great outcomes for their clients. We're also focused on doing what we can to help advisers grow their businesses: we’re committed to sharing knowhow with advisers through our educational webinars, podcasts and other programs, and I hope we can regularly connect face to face at live events in 2022. Second, we want to give advisers access to world class digital tools to help them do business more efficiently.

MetLife's mental health programs and the importance of keeping the conversation going

Q&A with Christina Hoang, Marketing Manager, Retail at MetLife Australia:

Q: Why is mental health such an important topic for MetLife to talk with advisers about?

Christina: We've seen a lot of changes come through over the years in the industry, particularly legislative changes, which have added to the pressure advisers face. We're committed to providing support to the adviser network and help them manage some of the challenges they're facing. We've launched 360Health, which includes access to mental health support, and we've been running a series of podcasts and webinars for advisers. Our podcasts cover some of the personal challenges advisers face while working in the industry, and highlight ways people try to maintain balanced and happy lives. We've also run 360Health webinars on topics such as nutrition, mindfulness, rest and sleep, and we'll continue to offer practical educational content. Though content is useful, it's just part of MetLife's ongoing support for advisers and their mental health. I think it's essential we have more conversations about mental health and make sure we look out for each other and speak up. Most importantly, we want to encourage people to speak with their doctors and mental health professionals.

Q: What are some of the ways advisers can address their mental health challenges?

Christina: The key thing is to not be afraid to speak up when things aren't right. Speak with your family about what you're going through and see your GP to get the advice and support you need to help address those mental health challenges. Some of the advisers we've spoken with in our podcasts talked about the combination of treatment and leading a healthier life, such as stopping or cutting back on drinking, eating healthily, exercising regularly and joining a support group.

Q: What support is available through MetLife's 360Health Virtual Care?

Christina: 360Health Virtual Care has a component called Mental Health Assist, where anyone with access to 360Health can speak with a mental health nurse. They can then be triaged to get further help if required, and they have access to material to help them learn more about managing their mental health. That service is available to MetLife's staff, customers and partners, including advisers.

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