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Advisers represent less than half of insurance market

Relatively few life insurance products are sold via advisers earning high upfront commissions, new research suggests.

Monday, August 3rd 2015, 6:00AM

by Susan Edmunds

Industry commentator Russell Hutchinson, of Quotemonster and Chatswood Consulting, has released statistics indicating that financial advisers likely account for between 40% and 45% of new life insurance sales.

He said that number was arrived at by first deducting from total industry sales all the business from companies that did not deal with advisers, such as BNZ and Cigna.

Then bank business was removed, a calculation made more accurate by recently-published ANZ data that showed far less of its business was being done by advisers than had previously been estimated.

“With OnePath it had been estimated that 50% of the product was from the bank but we discovered it was actually more like 84%.”

That indicated that, of the overall industry, bank business represented 40% of total sales, direct sales were 10% of the market and the institutional business was about 5%. "There is no data on institutional business but I would be surprised if it was less than 5% of the market," Hutchinson said.

He estimated that left adviser business at closer to 40% than 45% of the market.

Hutchison's firm asked advisers what commission structure they used. A significant number were already using a hybrid model, rather than high upfront commissions.

That meant that, overall, only a small percentage of New Zealand's life insurance products were sold by advisers paid the headline-grabbing 180% to 200% upfront commissions.

Hutchinson said: "You could argue that if advisers are 45% of the market and a third are already using spread, that's not much [being sold with high upfronts] so why don't we reduce the upfront commissions and reduce conflicts? But you could also say why do we need to stress about it if it is not that much of the market."

He expected any action on commissions to reduce the adviser market share further.

Tags: Commission financial advisers Life insurance

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