We speak to Casey Sugden, State Manager of Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, to find out what advisers need to know about MetLife Protect’s modular product design and how to work closely with clients to best meet their needs.

Can you explain how MetLife Protect is different to other products in the market?

One of the most important aspects of MetLife Protect is that we have taken a modular approach to our product design. The principle behind this approach is to move away from the traditional “one-size-fits-all” towards a more customised approach. This allows advisers and their clients to work together to build a product solution based on the client’s unique needs and affordability.

Put simply, MetLife Protect and MetLife Protect Super lets consumers build on the four Standard Cover types (Life, Trauma, TPD and Income Cover) with a range of optional Extras Covers, for example: Home Loan Extras, Family Extras and Sole Trader Extras.

We have specifically included guaranteed future insurability in most of the optional Extras Cover. Guaranteed future insurability is a great tool for advisers to use at review as it allows for cover to be increased without underwriting should their client’s needs change.

The modular product design, combined with guaranteed future insurability means that MetLife Protect supports and encourages greater interaction between advisers and their clients.

How often should advisers check in and how can they find out about what needs updating?

The research tells us the clients want to hear from their adviser more than once a year so we would encourage at least one formal annual review. I would have a series of questions to send out to the client prior to an annual review to ascertain what life changes have happened. This assists in determining which benefits in the modular construction would be right for the client so we can add to the policy and remove those that don't fit. I would be talking about the way MetLife Protect is constructed, all the great things we can do in terms of structuring a product and how easy it is to make changes.

Does this mean advisers may need to change the way they do annual reviews?

Most advisers I talk to like to send a pre-checklist for their reviews each year combined with a summary of any conversations and issues they have discussed during the year. As we know, life is not static. It is constantly changing. We often underestimate how much a client’s life, and therefore insurance needs have changed during the course of a year. The review should pick up the big-ticket items such as buying a house or having children, as well as the subtler changes such as children becoming adults, financial obligations and changes to work patterns. Another great opportunity during the review is to also ask what the client envisages will be changing in their lives in the next 1 to 5 years.

Have you got any tips on how advisers can make their clients comfortable about opening up on their most personal and sensitive information?

Establishing trust is the key. Financial advice is based on trust not money. A great strategy is to have a conversation with clients where the adviser uses the analogy of a general practitioner: they analyse a client’s financial health, assess their vital stats, obtain a life history and identify pain points. This information is then used to develop an action plan to secure the client’s long-term prosperity and help remedy any financial problems. Importantly, just like GPs, advice from financial advisers is only as good as the information they receive from their clients. That’s why relationship building is so important in the advice industry.

In a way, is MetLife Protect encouraging a much better relationship between advisers and clients?

Yes, absolutely. I think one of the great things about our modular approach is that it’s designed to evolve over time with the client. So, as a client’s goals change and they enter different life stages, the optional Extras Cover can be added, increased, decreased or removed to ensure they are adequately covered at all times.

Just how easy is it to update the cover?

MetLife Protect’s building block design means that it is very easy to update cover. Everything that we do has efficiency at its core. We’re trying to make it a very efficient process for the client and the adviser.

But what about balancing, adding and removing different cover types?

This is something that we’ve talked at length about with our advisers. The current traditional approach to insurance is very“one-size-fits-all”, whereby advisers only have two options to offer their clients – basic cover or overly comprehensive cover that often forces consumers to pay for features that they may not need. If a policy is becoming too expensive or if the client doesn’t need a particular feature, an adviser might have to cancel the policy or significantly reduce the sum insured to get the premium down to an affordable level. A potential risk of this is it may leave clients underinsured. With our modular approach, each optional Extras Cover is individually priced so your clients only pay for what they need, and this also makes it more affordable.

Are there also benefits for the relationship between advisers and MetLife because advisers will be feeding information back about what their clients’ needs are? 

Absolutely. We are really committed to creating solutions which are relevant for both advisers and their clients. So, if we hear of an area that we could improve – whether it’s updating a current Extras Cover or creating a new Extras Cover, that’s definitely a path we’ll explore. We want advisers to feel empowered; that they are being listened to and that we are designing products that they want to use to build solutions for their clients.