Hi everyone, we have Jo Elphick from Legal & General joining me and Roy McLoughlin in this episode. Legal & General have been looking at how gender influences the way that people engage with group income protection insurance. The statistics are quite interesting!
65% of women surveyed believe that income protection is relevant to them, versus only 35% of men that felt it is worthwhile
As we talk through the findings, Jo helps us to understand the way that women tend to see the value of income protection more than men, yet less women than men take up and engage with this policy type. We talk about how women traditionally tend to address health concerns early on, in contrast to their ‘invincible’ male counterparts, which means we really should be shouting from the rooftops about how group support services can help them and their immediate family.
The key takeaways:
- Some reasons for people not engaging with group income protection include not understanding what the policy is, their partner’s sorting out all the finance stuff, and fear that employers might learn too much about their health.
- Messages about group insurance support services are not often filtered to employees well, being lost amongst all the noise of employment contracts and onboarding procedures.
- Storytelling that demonstrates the benefits of engaging with group support services, is where we can show how income protection isn’t’ just about money, it’s about wellbeing too.
Next time, Matt Rann is back with me and we are chatting about skin cancer and how it can affect your insurance options. I think people are often surprised at how much someone having had skin cancer can alter the terms on offer. I also think a lot of people are shocked when they hear that you should wear suncream everyday in the UK. Yes, even though we only get 5 days of sunshine a year, you should always have suncream on.
If you want to know more about how to arrange protection insurance, take a look at my Protection Insurance in Practice course here.
Kathryn: Hi everyone, this is episode four of season four and today Roy McLoughlin is back and we have Jo Elphick from Legal & General with us. Hi Roy, hi Jo!
Kathryn: Today we’re going to be talking about group insurances and how gender can have an influence upon engaging with insurance. This is the Practical Protection podcast. How are you both doing? How’s everything going for you at the moment?
Jo: Yeah, pretty good, pretty good. The sun’s out a little bit at the moment, so rain’s stopped, so it’s feeling good.
Kathryn: That’s good. How about you Roy? How’s everything?
Guest: Yeah, no, absolutely fine. Isn’t it nice for the sun to come out in July, which is what it says on the packet?
Jo: Yeah, exactly.
Kathryn: I did the thing yesterday, went to collect my kids from their cricket summer camp and there was a thing saying it might thunder and lightning at some point and it was just like, “Oh okay, well it’s looking alright,” you know, and so we did the thing of thinking, “Oh we’ll just, you know –” The one time that you think, “I’ll trust the weather sort of like channels and everything,” so went out, you know, in a lovely strappy sort of like summer top and everything, clearly started really raining and thundering on the way back, so we got in and I put a fire on because we’re all so soaked through. And then Alan – by the time Alan walked home, it was obviously glorious sunshine again, he walks in and was like, “You’ve got a fire on, it’s July!” I was like, “Don’t even start with me. We just walked home in a big thunderstorm and just – we’re having a moment.” And it felt good, it felt nice, nice and warm and toasty.
So Jo, I understand from some recent research that women and men tend to sort of view financial support in quite different ways, you know, especially if it was maybe considering things that you can get maybe through the State and then possibly what you would maybe get through insurances. Can you take us through what the research has been showing?
Jo: Sure, it’s really interesting. A piece of work that we conducted really, just to understand why there’s a lack of engagement in many cases with benefits in the workplace and we did find some interesting contrasts between men and women. And maybe some of those things that we wouldn’t necessarily have thought would have existed have started to emerge. So, what we did find was that women are more aware of the fact that they are likely – or we are all likely to – or less likely to receive benefits from the State and if we do, that they aren’t particularly useful or won’t go very far. So that was kind of a good thing but contrasting to that is what we did find was that they don’t really understand and appreciate group protection benefits. So the benefits around income protection, we asked about income protection and critical illness and EAPs. And we looked at why, so why is it that this is happening and the answers included, “I don’t read all the company information, there’s just too much to take in.”
Also, “I just don’t understand the benefit,” which probably leads directly from the first response. And then a couple of other really interesting ones is around, “My partner sorts out the insurances that we need.” And finally, a privacy concern, where in women’s responses, they were concerned that their employer may get to know too much about their health or private life and that was in particular relation to employee assistance programmes.
Kathryn: I see, that’s quite interesting that, isn’t it as well because generally with group insurances, we don’t really – obviously when we’re advising on it, we’re not particularly going into health, it’s very rare in many ways that we would need to be going into that. And I suppose though – maybe it’s the value added services or something that, you know, obviously such wonderful things and maybe it’s – I don’t know, maybe a bit more clarification from employers and like HR departments, that if people are engaging with these things and being involved in them, it’s not suddenly that there’s going to be like secret messages passed back to the employer, saying, “Oh well, they’ve contacted us about this that they’re worried about, or they’re not feeling great or they’ve had a moan about this or that.” I don’t know. Roy, what’s your thoughts on it?
Roy: No, I totally concur. I’ve experienced this lots of times and actually I think it’s incumbent on the adviser, weirdly, to make it really, you know, as clear as daylight that everything is totally confidential or we need to deliver that message when we’re firstly, you know, advising on them taking out the product, but the follow-up point – and I think that over the last year when people have been using EAPs, one of the questions that comes up time and time again is, “If I say something to this counsellor, if I say something to this person I’ve been put in touch with, does it go back to anyone?” And it’s really important that we know that answer’s ‘no’, but it’s a very firm ‘no’. So I can see why that paranoia exists but I think, you know, to come back to the communication point, that’s incumbent on the adviser to make that very, very clear that absolute confidentiality exists.
I mean Jo, I was going to talk to you about communications anyway. As an industry, you know, I’ve been around a bit longer than you two – I mean, we were accused of, you know, a bit of – sort of covert sexism, a bit of misogynism, you know, in terms of the advice that was given out. Do you perceive that that’s changed? Are we getting the communications better in terms of the messages out to women in particular?
Jo: I think it’s improving, because there is more now that recognises, I guess, the emotional benefits of having these products in place, as much as that, you know, the fact that ultimately, you know, protecting your income is a means to an end, isn’t it? It’s just, in and of itself, it’s probably not enough to motivate people to take action. I don’t think we’ve done a great job in the group risk perspective to be honest. I think a lot of the communications – and maybe there’s an interesting debate about regulation and, you know, the nervousness around things that are construed as financial promotion is that you tend to have to communicate very much on a fact basis rather than finding ways to illustrate stories. And we all know in our, you know, the work that we all do, the huge value of case studies in terms of bringing those stories to life. Because that’s the kind of communication that people relate to not, you know, facts and figures and the kinds of things that are very easy to switch off from.
I think there’s a massive opportunity that we need to make sure as an industry we don’t miss it, which is this wellbeing piece. And just thinking about what you were just saying there Roy, about employee assistance programmes. Let’s hope that we continue to see that engagement rise because these things can make such a massive difference to people. I don’t necessarily even think it’s always just down to men and women and kind of what those roles are, it’s just everybody’s different and it’s about getting to know them and what their motivations are and probably where they think their vulnerabilities are as well. There’s a lot to be said for people, you know, being more honest with themselves around that. So I guess my remaining concern is the response around partners covering the insurance conversation on a woman’s behalf is that if they don’t know then, you know, there’s a big gap there isn’t there in terms of the family being protected? They could be over-protected and not realise that.
Kathryn: I think you’re right with that. I mean there’s certain things, you know, I’ve been involved in a few different conversations and obviously where we are at Cura, obviously people tend to come to us. I think we get sort of like a bit of an unusual kind of perspective sometimes in terms of like people engaging and things like that because people come to us typically at Cura because they’ve had a health condition or some kind of risk that has meant that they’ve struggled to maybe get insurance the usual route. So people just come to us because they have a very specific need and obviously in terms of health and risk and everything it’s completely genderless. So we have pretty much, you know, almost a 50/50 split in terms of male and female. But there are people that I do speak to in the adviser space who are much, much more – that they are speaking to men rather than the women.
And this is going to sound so stereotypical and I really don’t mean to sound stereotypical or anything like that, but I think it kind of goes back to that mindset sometimes that – or just the life circumstances, where generally – sort of like, I’m not saying every situation but I think a lot of the time it is the case of obviously, if there’s a woman and there’s children, she’s probably the one that’s sort of like juggling work but mainly possibly, you know, with the children as well, so when it is time to have some spare time to maybe speak to an adviser it’s not really what she’s doing. If she’s juggling work and the kids, then it’s probably going to be the male partner that would be a case of, “Well, I’m going to juggle work and then sorting out the finances.” I also find it quite difficult as well though because I’m the finance person for us, I do it all but –
Roy: Is Alan allowed to make any decisions, Kathryn?
Kathryn: He’s allowed to make some decisions. I let him have some decisions every now and then, but no, every now and then, the thing is for us, we’re quite happy with the way that we are, because we sort of like – we do things and we set things up but we’re always chatting at the same time. So I would never set up like an investment or anything or an insurance without chatting to him when I was going through it. And about every six months or so, he suddenly comes up to me and he says, “Right, I just want to know where everything is,” and we go through it all and make sure. But not everybody’s like that and obviously there are so many different aspects to it as well in terms of, you know, I think as well, especially from an adviser point of view that we make sure that we are – if we’re speaking to somebody, that we make sure, you know, that the partner’s brought into the conversation at some point. Or we maybe have some kind of communication, even if it’s a case of, if that partner’s not available, maybe they can be involved in email chains of some sort so that they can be aware, so they can know where the discussions are leading to.
I’m sure Roy will probably have different approaches, but obviously I come from a telephone-based kind of a situation. But I think it’s really interesting as well, when we’re looking at it potentially from – because obviously I work with a lot of SMEs, especially in the group space. But when we’re sometimes talking about these big, massive group policies that are done, the adviser’s ability to actually speak to the people that are on that, you know, we’re talking thousands of employees, does become obviously significantly harder. And yeah, Roy, I’ll let you take over with that kind of thing.
Roy: I was going to say, one of the interesting by-products of the whole Covid crisis is the use of Zoom. And what’s been fascinating and many people have told these anecdotes is that you’re suddenly meeting parts of the family you’ve never met before, because you’re generally meeting people in their houses. And, you know, I think a lot of people in particular have been meeting, you know, wives and partners of both sexes but it tends to be more females that they’ve never met before because they were too busy, to your earlier point – or they couldn’t, you know, if you work in a busy city, they didn’t have time to come into the city.
And the great news for protection of course, is that when someone’s in their house they have to go and find those policy documents that they normally claim that they can’t find. They have to go and seek out the pensions and ISAs that tend to be in those rusty old cupboards behind people, when they get out and literally blow off the dust. But what we found is that, you know, I think everyone will accept there is more of a female leaning towards protection than male and actually being able to talk to the family unit because you’re doing it via the communication of Zoom or Teams or whatever it is, has helped protection, because you are talking to everyone that’s concerned.
And the classic one there, I have to say, is I think – broad statement coming out, but I think if you asked the average guy to explain his death in service and his group income protections benefits, they struggle. Whereas of course if they’re at home they either have them there or you tend to find that their wife or partner sort of says, “Well sorry, I want to know what this is because it’s in my interest and here are these two lovely little kids here and it’s in their interests.” So, interesting by-product sometimes. I don’t know, have Legal & General found that as well, Jo?
Jo: I think that’s a really good point and actually on the individual side of the business there was a really, really interesting story where a lady had called in to – her husband had sadly died and she had been going through bank statements latterly to look at what the expenses were. And I’m massively abridging this here – and called us to effectively stop the direct debit because she was trying to find ways to make ends meet. And she didn’t know that she had a life – or he had a life policy on her behalf. And if she’d not phoned us having gone through, you know, her bank statements she wouldn’t have known she’d had that policy. And there was, you know, money in these policies waiting to be claimed and she was beside herself because, you know, it had taken all that financial burden off.
She’d probably spent a couple of months being concerned about how she was going to cope, but had she known – if she’d been in a Zoom call with her husband, with somebody, five years previously and she’d heard that then she would have known that that was in place. And she’s obviously had the necessary, you know, suffering and stress because she just didn’t know it was there. So I think it’s a really good opportunity. You know, we’re talking about levelling up as a country a lot but to level up that protection agenda now through that direct access that you wouldn’t have had necessarily before.
Kathryn: Absolutely. I mean, I know we’ve said sort of like that we’re probably going to try and not be too gender stereotyping and everything but, you know, it is part of our conversation today, I don’t think we can step away from it too much. So I think possibly going back a little bit to what I was mentioning before, is obviously gender does seem to have an influence in terms of engaging obviously group insurances but also I think personal insurances as well. I tend to find when I’m speaking to people and maybe Roy sees this as well, but I tend to find that men feel that they should be insured for a lot more than women tend to feel that they should be insured for.
But, you know, I’m sure there’s lots of different things and I’m wondering in terms of like the group insurances, you know, it could be a case of – like we were saying, it might be that men obviously are engaging, because obviously they want to know what’s going to be available at times, they might be more likely to speak with a Financial Adviser and it might be that women are more sort of taking career breaks. And like you were saying before as well Jo, in terms of like the marketing, it’s like with a lot of these things, we’re throwing kind of a lot of statistics at people and facts which I think is – and again, I’m probably going to get told off by people for stereotyping, but I think that’s possibly quite a male trait to really like figures and things like that, whereas women, the case studies, the things that really bring – and I can see you smiling, Roy – but you know, I think like the case studies, the things that really hit home, I think women tend to sort of like naturally move towards and watch those things, even though I’m sure lots and lot of men do.
And as an adviser – I can see Roy just smiling, thinking, “I do obviously give statistics to women and I do give case studies to men.” But I’m just thinking – I kind of like – I don’t know – we’re kind of brought up I think sometimes as women to have this natural thing in us to sort of – well, societal thing in us – to sort of say, “Right, well at some point, you’re going to be stepping away from work because you’re going to be having kids and then at some point you’ll be stepping away because you’re going to be looking after parents,” and it’s not like a said thing, but it’s kind of a thing sometimes that we kind of instinctively know in the background. But I don’t know. What do you think, Jo?
Jo: Yeah, I completely agree with you. There are still, you know, huge, I guess tendencies to make assumptions and they’re based on sort of decades of behaviours. And I think we’re in quite a transitional shift at the moment. We still – I think back to sort of my parents’ generation and there’s such a big difference between even this generation and theirs and probably even ours and our own children. And then within those, you know, you think about the social norms, even aain – just close your ears Roy, this whole thing about men not going to the doctors as much, not that anybody can really do that as much as they maybe did before.
But there are all these things that are very different and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that I think advisers, providers, communicators in businesses need to understand that different people respond to different prompts within different communications. So you can talk about the facts, but actually, you know, when it’s a conversation with the woman in the household or the woman that’s making the decisions, to bring in those more emotive benefits and case studies as well makes a real difference. So I think you can do both, you don’t need to sacrifice one for the other and have, you know, a blue pack of cons and a pink pack of cons, if that makes sense –
Kathryn: Oh no, no, no –
Jo: But that’s another stereotype that I can’t bear.
Kathryn: I know. I’m picturing now those shopping centres where like people, you know, where it’s like a blue NASA top or something and people have like picked them up and run with them into the girls’ section. I can’t stand that. My seven-year old spent about a year or so in a bright pink unicorn top, it was all like glittery and pouffey and he was wanting to go to school in it and everything and I was just like, “You go for it. Just enjoy yourself, why not?!”
Roy: But Jo, you’re spot on, on GPs and I think most, you know, that most men have a real issue going to their GP, because they get too – I don’t know what the right expression is – but, “I don’t do the GP, it’ll sort itself out,” and all that sort of stuff. Although, ironically of course, before one of you two says it, we get man-flu, which you two don’t get. But it would be fascinating to see the uptake for example, on virtual GPs and second opinion services and whether that’s changed from a gender point of view, I don’t know if these stats are available. But whether that’s changed and whether men in particular are going on and using virtual GPs in a way that they wouldn’t go and see their GP.
But there’s a bigger picture here of course, because they’re saying that, you know, if you look at the mental health issues that are around actually, one of the biggest groups that thankfully we’ve now identified but people weren’t talking about was men between 45 and 55. Now traditionally, probably been forgotten in that space. But actually, some of the issues because of loss of job and so and so forth, this is exactly the age group who wouldn’t go and seek help because it was, you know, “Pull yourself together, you’ll be okay, it’ll be fine tomorrow, go and have a drink,” you know, those ridiculous stereotypes. So again, maybe you know, I’m loathed to say some good’s come out of Covid, but you get my point. Maybe some of these things have changed the way society looks and that includes that engagement with mental health in particular.
Jo: Yeah, I completely agree. And another behaviour which, you know, women chat to their friends more, makes a difference not just from the mental health perspective but if, you know, if a woman then decides to make a decision about a financial product and she happens to talk about that to her friends, that’s a big, you know, there’s a big – it’s that network effect isn’t it? A guy might not be having the same conversation in the pub, it might be a different thing. So there’s I think a really big opportunity through cutting through that communication and that noise that we talked about, for it to start to kind of power its own levels of interest as well which, you know, could only be good news for advisers.
Roy: I mean there is a parallel to be taken from the pensions industry because up until relatively recently, pensions didn’t form part of divorce settlements and now they do and quite rightly so and there’s new rules to do with divorce. But what that’s prompted is a – and hopefully most of the advisers listening to this really bang this drum, is that financial independence is key. We have the same issue with single life policies of course Kathryn. I know we talked about that in a different podcast, but I think, you know, when we’re talking to couples we still say, for example, “It’s really important you both have pensions just in case, you know, you should have single life policies just in case and I think you can talk to people as a family unit but equally you, you know, whether we like it or not, one has to talk about if separation occurs, what happens? And that was the – again, sorry to say this, but that was the sexist nature of a lot of financial advice, that it was far too skewed towards the male.
Kathryn: Absolutely. I think, you know, it’s – when we’re having like these conversations, just for – obviously for advisers who are listening and are not sure what to do and I know this is probably moving a little bit away from the group conversation, but in terms of sort of like when we’re chatting to people, it is just that case of, you know, sort of like saying well – I was going to say it’s – when I’ve had people that I’ve spoken to, I tend to – it tends to be more like if I speak to women and I’m saying, “Well we need to speak about the male as well,” that it kind of straight away, “Oh yeah absolutely.” Or the other partner, not saying it’s specifically male but it tends to be sometimes obviously when we speak to men and, you know, if they may be the higher earner or something it’s a case of, “Well everything’s to do with, you know, kind of like, it’s to do with me because obviously I’m the higher earner and I need to bring this in,” and it’s just sometimes you do need to just possibly even have some training of some sort and in a sense how to challenge those perceptions and to maybe just say, “Well actually –”
It’s painting those scenarios, you know, I think we can all paint those scenarios and say, “Well what’s going to happen to your family if this occurs?” and things like that but it’s also doing that other thing as well so I say like for a stay-at-home partner who is maybe looking after the kids or something, it’s then changing the conversation to say, “Well okay then, I understand that you’re maybe the breadwinner but then if your partner who stays at home with the kids, if something happens to them – so what’s going to happen? Are you going to reduce your hours which means you’re going to have to significantly reduce your income so obviously you can look after the children? Also then that will have a knock-on to your pensions, everything like that or are you going to be paying for like – almost like a live-in nanny in some ways because obviously the stay-at-home parent will be intensely involved in organising that family and the children and I think it’s – as an adviser it’s really important to have kind of like an arsenal of all these different situations that you might need to bring to somebody and it can be really hard and sometimes people can just be very, very single-minded as to what they want to do.
But I think ultimately if there’s someone who’s going to be benefiting from a policy then it kind of just naturally makes sense to say to them, “Well actually it’s really important that they know because if something happens, you want them to benefit from this. So if something happens to you, they need to know who I am so they can come to me and they know I’m going to help them with that next step, you know, stage of the process in terms of the claim, you know, take away all the stress. It’s kind of like a bit more of an extension to the service that an adviser is saying. Because an adviser is there saying, “I’m here to give you all of this to help you and to make sure that if a claim goes ahead that it’s going to go ahead but it’s not just that, it’s also making sure that the person who’s going to benefit from it, which is usually a partner of some sort, is going to know. And – I don’t know, maybe Roy has a slightly different tack that he takes but I think that that’s just a really important approach.
Roy: No I think it’s spot on. Listen, I’m very, very impressed that finally in all of these podcasts you’ve mentioned Arsenal so –
Kathryn: Argh, no!
Roy: It’s taken us two years but good on you. No, it’s got me thinking – it’s another question to Jo actually, you know, communication of group benefits as much as advisory has to go generally through HR, sometimes it’s finance but it’s generally HR. I mean HR is dominated by females, you know, do you think there’s some good stories there in terms of, you know, you talk about storytelling and as you know coming from a 7Families background, I am the biggest advocate of that. Is there some good news here in terms of – as we go into this new world, the fact that, you know, we work alongside HR that there’s – it’s heavily female-dominated?
Jo: I think that’s a really good point and actually everyone’s busy aren’t they these days and part of it is equipping HR teams with the ability to ask the right questions and think about a communication around what are the goals that we’re trying to achieve here and think about them as, you know, as customers, as a marketer would think about customers. But I think there’s often – you sort of see something that’s a piece of information which is not a piece of communication. If I know this thing, is that going to make me take, you know, take an action? Even simple things like calls to action and building those in, are all important. Where is the communication here? I know that’s been incredibly sort of challenged in terms of businesses that have had to close their doors but, you know, where people spend their time and moving things around, change in the communications more frequently that the whole thing around once a year is where I think the, you know, from a group protection, it’s just – it’s no help to anybody because you’re not going to remember something that happened in the two-week window. You need to be reminded and again sort of thinking about that female population in HR, what can we do – you mentioned around maternity leave Kathryn, is that we need to be speaking to women before they go on maternity leave to encourage them to keep their, you know, to keep abridged of what their protection is and potentially when they come back, you know, they might want to – if they can, add more benefits because obviously there’s another mouth to feed and there’s somebody else to protect there so rather than seeing that as, “Right, well that’s another opportunity to switch off,” it’s probably an opportunity to switch on.
Kathryn: Absolutely. I had a thing where I spoke to somebody last year and they’d come to me because they were potentially wanting some income protection for their partner and I was speaking to her and I was just sort of like, “Obviously for you,” and she was like, “Oh well, I have had income protection but I cancelled it because I went on maternity leave.” And straight away I was just like – because obviously she hadn’t been my client at that point and I was just like, “Okay, that’s fine but not the ideal situation,” kind of thing. But it’s really interesting as well – I was just looking at some of the statistics that came out in the research and that and when you look at it, it’s sort of like saying like in terms of all the responses that came through and that, it seems that – it was like – it would seem to be almost double the amount of men felt that critical illness cover just wasn’t relevant for them at all compared to women and pretty much the same when it came to income protection as well that – maybe that goes back to that, men are big machines that don’t need any help or any support, they’re going to live forever kind of thing.
But it is really interesting when we’re sort of like seeing this – what’s interesting is seeing that where it seems to be that more men don’t think that it’s relevant to them but then when we look at statistics that say came out of the Swiss Re Term & Health Watch, when we were looking at the gender splits there, women are starting to in a sense get a better proportion of like the comparison of how many women compared to men are insured so women are gradually getting up there more and more but yet – so more men are taking it out but also more men also don’t feel like it’s relevant to them. It’s very confusing. Maybe this comes down to this whole Mars-Venus thing. Men, we just don’t know you. Yeah.
Roy: I suspect if we’re having this chat in two years’ time, those figures will be quite a lot different. I think that indestructability that a lot of men felt they had has been massively disrupted by this situation. Look, there’s none of us unfortunately that haven’t been touched by this one way or the other, whether it’s physically or mentally and I think that you will see a different attitude coming out. We’re already seeing it. I think you’ll definitely see it with businesses a much more paternalistic attitude to that and of course that’s good for group because they will naturally be looking around and saying, “How do we help look after our staff if this were to happen again?” And also, don’t underestimate staff retention, you know, issues, you know. I think employers are going to become more competitive now and they’re going to want ways of keeping people more than they’ve ever done before and, you know, let’s face it, the days of company cars are gone and so on and so forth and suddenly benefits go right up to the top of the list.
Kathryn: I think – I was just going to sort of like move on from what you were saying a little bit there Roy as well, so in terms of like, you know, how important these are especially this last year has shown, so one of the things – obviously we have group cover for our team and it was really lovely and I think everyone just felt a bit of a sigh of relief actually over the last year that they had access to remote GPs throughout this last year and it was just – obviously quite a few of us have children but even the people without children, it just – it felt nice to just know, “Actually, if I need this, I’ve got someone. I’m not going to have to worry about when my GP – ‘cos I’m not going to have to go in somewhere and see somebody.” And it just felt good basically and I mean I used it for my children.
There’s a kind of thing, you know, and it’s such a good example, you know, so like I can be on the system trying to get an appointment at eight o’clock at night because I’ve just got a query or something for my kids and then the appointment I get is 12 o’clock the next day. I mean, you just don’t get that generally and to have that and to be able to access that for yourself, for the partner obviously who’s – for the employee and the children is so important. I think sometimes Jo, I think people get a little bit confused in a sense as to how much a family and the children can actually access these things going forward as well.
Jo: Yeah, I think so and again it comes down to – well with this one it’s probably small print a lot of the time so it will tend to say in the more sort of terms and conditions-y type statements that it’s available for family members and then they’re may be something that talks about, you know, the age ranges in which family members can access these services. You know, you rightly say, the GP service can be accessed by a whole, you know, the whole family. There are still aspects within employee assistance programs where, you know, some of the really powerful things more recently where young people have really struggled with mental health through isolation and, you know, the poor things being stuck indoors and not able to see their friends for months on end where, you know, a child living at home from the age of 16 can access these services and speak to someone in confidence and get some support and some tools to help them and I think, you know, there’s the real opportunity there to think about helping someone with their mental health at any age.
As Roy just said, you know, there’s an issue with that 45-55 year old age bracket in men more but I had some real concerns about our young people this time last year ‘cos it’s not, you know, it’s not good for them to not be out with their friends and they need to talk to their friends about these things. If they can’t speak to their friends, they’re not going to speak to their parents a lot of the time. So yeah, I think the added value services have just really come into their own this last year and that can only be a good thing.
Kathryn: They’re absolutely fab.
Roy: They’ve been phenomenal. I mean, the other thing we should definitely ask you about Jo, is early intervention because I have seen, you know, almost a revolution in the way that people use early intervention services and the positivity that comes out of that – how have L&G found that? I mean you were not only one of the first people to come out with this, you were certainly as far as I know the first individual office to promote early intervention. What have your experiences been over the last 18 months?
Jo: Yeah again really positive. I think what we were able to do really quickly was – actually a few things – with the partners that we work with from a support perspective is they quickly were able to switch to a virtual model and again that’s interesting in terms of accessing people so in particular if you think about counselling, you could argue that if somebody doesn’t need to leave their house to get counselling it’s a lot easier for them to, you know, find an hour of their time whereas if you’ve got to drive to some location and then drive back again and so on and I think that’s been proven to have worked incredibly well. We’ve had some really strong return to work rates in terms of people with mental health conditions and being able to get to them early in the – obviously in the – I guess the process as well.
We also introduced the long Covid support service which we did really quickly as well and I know that that’s getting really good engagement and usage through the employers to support the employee and we are, you know, it’s a sad state of affairs but we are seeing that that is getting used. It’s not something that we’ve put there just in the background, people are engaging with that. So I think the thing is with early intervention, the usage of different services ebbs and flows to reflect sort of illnesses and injuries and things that are impacting people’s lives doesn’t it? So they’re in many cases – in some organisations, engagement actually increased during the pandemic because they felt that their employer was doing a lot to help them so you might expect to see a reduction in some services but yeah, I think people are seeing it as a positive thing. That’s what’s changed. There’s been a mindset change.
Roy: And in particular – I mean I would just fly the flag for SMEs in particular. You know, when you work for a big company it’s – you’ve probably got a very well-established HR department who probably have got a skillset, have done training, have got the right people working there to deal with, you know, their own internal early intervention by recognising people and knowing what to do. When you talk to smaller companies where often the HR department will be one person or some are very, very young and it’s almost been co-opted into HR, they have a very understandable paranoia about how to deal with these situations and when you say to them, “Look, we can provide a service that will do this for you,” the look of relief on their face, you know, I can’t tell you, it’s so palatable because there is – firstly there’s a paternalistic, you know, attitude to this which is, “We want to look after our staff,” but there is an in-set paranoia about how do they deal – and they might have been on a legal course or they might have read something just about – you have to be so careful how to manage these situations.
When we come along and say, you know, “Alongside your group income protection or whatever it is, these early intervention services are there,” and then you describe how the early intervention services work, that’s the bit where their ears prick up.
Jo: Yeah and picking up on that, the person who – sorry Kathryn.
Kathryn: No, no, you go.
Jo: I’ll just quickly say, the person that’s dealing with it is often the line manager and to your point Roy, there may be concerns about employment litigation, you know, “Should I be contacting this person? Would that person receive that phone call in the right way?” So to – you don’t want to hand it over in terms of the responsibility because I think, again, that paternal role has really, really increased massively but you also want to make sure you’re doing it the right way and if that means you’ve got the support of an insurance company and all the experts they work with behind you, then that does masses for the confidence of the line manager.
Kathryn: Absolutely, I really do feel that as well, especially as like Roy was saying as well, in the SME space because a lot of the time you have people who are doing their job but are then obviously getting other things kind of thrown at them here, there and everywhere as a needs must kind of thing and you do start to worry.
Roy: Yeah, in fact if you said to most SMEs, especially the S part of it, “Go to your line manager.” They’ll go, “What’s a line manager?” Because, you know, a company with 10 people in does not have a line manager.
Kathryn: No, absolutely not, absolutely not. I was going to say, as we start coming towards the end of the podcast episode, so something that’s – I think I’m probably going to end up on a sort of like a one-woman crusade with this but a big thing for me is that obviously we’ve been chatting about things and what’s been really interesting is again, if we’re looking at the statistics side of things, you know, we can see that women, when they’re looking at things and looking at critical illness, looking at income protection, they’re seeing more than men that they’re seeing it’s more relevant, you know, they’re sort of there thinking, “Actually this is really important, we should have this.” But we are seeing that the statistics of take-up is lower for women. And I remember chatting about this once on social not long ago, basically saying that I really feel it’s important that we sort of – if we have this information, to make sure that we’re educating women to know what these things are, you know, sort of like how important they are.
Obviously the majority of people were just like, “Absolutely.” There was one person where it was a case of, “Excuse me, are you saying I’m uneducated?” And I was like, “No, no, we’re not saying you’re not educated at all.” It was just that we can see and, you know, from us guys who are here who are experts in this, we can see that women haven’t traditionally been putting sort of like, you know, real focus on this area and that’s not to say that they don’t specifically understand it or that they’re ignoring it or they don’t class it as, you know, important. But there are so many things in life that can come in and take time away from us from really focusing on these things. And one of the things that I really feel would be a good idea is – I mean, obviously I think everybody here is probably a big income protection advocate, is to sort of like have this more in like induction processes so obviously we’re doing things like group insurance, which hopefully means that in an induction stage someone is being made aware that the group insurance is there for them and they can use it, they can use the value added services and all the information in terms of when it kicks in and everything like that.
But I kind of feel like as well, should it not just be part of everybody’s induction? It’s a case of sort of like, “Well we are a company that offers group insurance, income protection,” or, “We are a company who doesn’t offer this but you should really be looking at it,” and it’s so important that you have this kind of like – not as in like a sense of to the extent of like everybody, you know, “We should be auto-enrolling everyone in pensions,” even though that is incredibly important and did – obviously was very, very good to happen but I just feel like these discussions should be brought in so much earlier or even at least that there’s some kind of education towards the end of secondary school or college where people are given all this information ‘cos I don’t think I know anybody really of that age and certainly at my age when I was – sort of like my age – when I was that age even, there was no way that I knew anything about income protection and stuff like that. And I’m not that old that it wasn’t around when I was leaving college and things like that but I do really feel that it’s not just sort of like an insurance side – it’s obviously massively insurer – massively adviser space but I do feel like we need to sort of try and tackle something more socially.
Roy: We’re sort of addressing this – you two would have read about the CII and ABI promoting the idea to Government of compulsory fit notes. So when you go and work for a company, they have to tell you what their sickness pay is but also what their attitudes to sickness are and that’s the time to lace that message in. Interestingly, that idea was one that came from the individual advisory community, would you believe this, 10 years ago but thankfully, you know, CII and ABI have taken it onboard now but I think I completely agree with you – I think that almost as part of your induction, there should be an education process about some of these subjects and again I think that one of the things I’ve been struck with particularly when we did the 7Families presentations, is the amount of HR people that don’t know their sickness policy let alone their staff and I think this is, you know, the message for advisers is, “Don’t be worried, don’t be scared to engage with HR people and open this subject up for them because rather than a, ‘Go away you’re being a nuisance, you’re just exposing,’ I think you’re going to find a completely opposite attitude actually which is, ‘Yes, we now should be telling our staff what SSP is, how universal benefits work.’” As an advisory point of view, but as a signposting point of view.
Roy: And I think that you’ll find, you know, a much more willing audience than – I think sometimes the problem’s in our head as to, you know, how receptive that’s going to be.
Kathryn: Absolutely. Jo, do you have any kind of final thoughts that you would like to leave us with at all?
Jo: Yeah, I guess it’s just reflecting on what you’re both saying there and I completely agree with you. If you think about that really important period in life whether you’re either leaving school, college or uni or whatever it might be and you go into work and you just sort of find yourself in this new world of work and you’re starting to get a pay packet coming in and you’re thinking about, you know, maybe it’s not jeans anymore it’s, you know, or whatever you’ve got to wear for your workplace, you find your way but I think there’s a role there – to your point Kathryn around education, is what are the universities and the colleges doing to say, “Right guys, if you’re lucky enough to get a job then you want to start thinking about protecting it ‘cos you’re not going to be able to sort of go back to the bank of Mum and Dad, you’re out on your own now and that stuff that you’re earning doesn’t come from anywhere else.”
And likewise with the induction, you know, I think about my second job, there was a chap working alongside me that actually was on a three day a week return to work type thing and I was working with him and didn’t even know that that was something that was provided by the insurance company because it hadn’t been something that had been discussed with me so it, you know, I think – if you actually did a survey of induction programs, I think you’d find there’s a huge opportunity there. So all the opportunities that we’ve got to communicate, we should be using them.
Kathryn: Absolutely, completely agree. Do you have any final thoughts, Roy, before we get towards the end?
Roy: I think, you know, as always, the collaboration shown here is the way forward. I think it’s really important that advisers and insurers, you know, sing from the same hymn sheet which clearly we do and I think it’s our job to help in that communication piece. I would say, you know, the plea is – the great news see Peter Hamilton, I pointed out yesterday, the plea is to Government actually to engage with us because, you know, we are at the coalface. We’re meeting these employers, particularly SME employers which let’s face it dominate the UK, you know. SMEs are 95, 96% of the UK. If they could maybe talk to us alongside, you know, insurers and distributors, maybe I’m dreaming here but, you know, then we can get that message out. And the reason why I live in hope is auto-enrolment. I think when auto-enrolment was first invented, people said, “Oh there’s no way it’s going to happen. Loads of people taking out pension schemes via their employer? Not going to work in a million years.” And of course it has been so successful, 90% uptake.
So people do listen and remember the thing about auto-enrolment, it’s one’s first financial services product that most people will ever take out. Why shouldn’t their second be income protection? Why shouldn’t their third be death in service, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera?
Kathryn: Absolutely and I think that’s a really good point and obviously going back to what we were just saying then as well about, you know, engaging with people, especially possibly the younger generations, we do have the Income Protection Task Force who have launched their Ziggy campaign to try and engage and encourage young people to get involved via social media so if anybody is obviously listening and not heard of that, why don’t you take a good look around I think Twitter, Instagram as well. They’re definitely on there sharing things and it would be good obviously for people to give any feedback on that as well. So that’s pretty much the end of the podcast. So thank you so much, Jo and Roy for joining again.
Jo: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure.
Roy: Thank you very much.
Kathryn: I’m going to be back in a couple of weeks with Matt Rann and we are going to have a good chat about skin cancer which obviously feels very, very apt in terms of the time of year that it is even though a typical British summer – I’m pretty sure we’ve all had our five days of sunshine for 2021. For anybody who’s listening, if you’d like a reminder of the next episode, please drop me a message on social media or visit the website practical-protection.co.uk and as always don’t forget that if you’ve listened and you are working within the financial services space, you can claim a CPD certificate on the website too thanks to our sponsors, OctoMembers. So thank you both again and I will speak to you soon.