Being ‘client focused’ is something that all jurisdictions claim to be – but not all of them back-up those words with actions. Read on to find out how the Isle of Man’s life industry really is focused on the client.
There was a time, not so long ago, when the international life industry was principally product-driven, where tax-efficiency, product cost and a secure provider environment were paramount. Satisfying the customer was always fundamental in this environment but now the industry has firmly crossed over into a world where mere satisfaction is not enough, where true differentiation is to be found in the quality of responsiveness to the ever-changing needs of the client base.
The Isle of Man’s providers have embraced this transition wholeheartedly, committing significant levels of financial, intellectual and technological resource to the cause. This is not without challenge though. Firstly, the dominant route to the private client wealth market is through an adviser network, meaning there are two ‘clients’ to consider in the overall proposition, so being client-led requires balancing the demands of both types of relationship. Secondly, there are regulatory obligations to build in too (invariably across multiple jurisdictions) between the product provider, the adviser and policyholder.
Challenging it may be, but the Isle of Man is setting the standard and this all comes down to the environment in which the providers operate.
The Island boasts an impressive array of global wealth management brands located in a relatively small geographical area, each driving the others on towards an accumulation of marginal gains for life product users. Many of these businesses have further access to deep international pools of resources and experiences from their wider group companies.
While the competitive forces in the private sector are used to put the client front and centre, the Isle of Man’s regulator also retains a sharp focus on consumer protection to bolster the jurisdiction’s position. Risk-based capital requirements mean that appropriate rigour is applied to product and market development initiatives and the recently introduced Conduct of Business Rules ensure a level playing field for customer information and disclosure requirements. These are just some of the reasons why the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority has attained the Gold Standard amongst the world’s regulatory bodies awarded by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors.
Where regulatory changes are afoot, the providers drop their competitive instincts and gather through the Manx Insurance Association to work towards the best possible outcome. The result is a genuine public-private partnership all focused on the end customer through high quality distribution.
Collectively, then, the Isle of Man life industry has created the foundation for the customer-driven age of wealth planning and, individually, its providers are tapping into the full range of technological solutions which can be tailored specifically for the market segments in which there customers are based. Financial services has long been a fertile breeding ground for technological advances and, for Manx-based life companies, web- and app-based solutions for customer interaction are now commonplace. Many are already moving to the next stage, developing robotics and AI solutions to enhance the consumer experience
There is little evidence to suggest that the customer-led revolution will abate any time soon but, thankfully for international life policyholders, the Isle of Man industry is in the best possible shape to meet its demands.