The corporate adviser summit has been held every October in a swanky hotel somewhere in the home counties. This year we are in a frightful faux castle near Horsham complete with fake arrow slits and other accoutrements of the English Baronial Hall. As usual I was defeated by all aspects of the room’s technology and failed even to open the individual shampoo bottle in my room.
I mention this as the state of this hotel really apes the state of the corporate adviser community. For years it has been supported by munificent insurers but the FCA’s rules on inducements, the Bribery Act and scrutiny on costs and charges make absurd junkets like this almost a thing of the past.
I feel as I write that I am presiding over the last rites of the life insurance industry and its distribution network (as we have known it since 1987).
The cataclysm that has hit it since the introduction of RDR in 2012 is clear to see.
consultancy charging -gone
corporate hospitality -gone
commission -going and almost gone
annuities – dead
Relationship management is now confined to wealth management and the inner sanctum of blessed consultants and investment managers who service the dying embers of the defined benefit industry.
We now know our customers through social media which provides us with the big data to segment the workforces we service. Straight through processing means that clients will move seamlessly from accumulation to decumulation with the click of a mouse. Seal clubbing is now conducted using an API.
This move to adopting technology has been prompted by a recognition that corporate clients (or more properly their workforces are no longer the juicy lemons they were. There may be 1.3m new employers to talk to , but all the conversations will be digital, the customer is now a corporate commodity.
We are now to resume the wake. Time to sign off, excuse the brevity but the bar stayed open late.