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[Opinion] Embracing change key to supporting advice

Gail Costa, Cigna New Zealand chief executive, reflects on 2020 and how embracing change is vital to the future of advice.

Friday, January 8th 2021, 9:52AM

If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us all is how quickly our lives and ways of working can change, and the importance of being prepared for the unexpected.

Last year has tested the resilience of us all. Despite its challenges we’ve worked together and continued to support our customers from our make-shift offices. On top of that we’ve home schooled, looked out for our loved ones and managed stresses, whether that be in our work or personal lives.

I’m proud of the resilience shown by the adviser community who quickly adopted to new ways of working to ensure our collective customers would be taken care of as they too grappled with the uncertainty of the pandemic. For many advisers, last year saw them step out of their comfort zones and embrace new ways of doing business.

From May to June we saw digital applications more than double and usage levels have remained consistent ever since. What also became apparent was that some advisers are now either completely using video calls in lieu of face-to-face appointments or they have at least become a major part of their sales process. This is great to see as keeping on top of changing technology will enable us to continue to meet the changing needs of New Zealanders.

The uncertainty of the pandemic saw increased awareness among New Zealanders about the importance of being protected. As people became increasingly concerned about potential impacts of the pandemic on their work and family lives, the critical role of advisers to help people understand what they were covered for and the options available to them was made clear. Countless service hours were put in by advisers during this time to ensure that their customers continued to be well protected and their new customers were getting the right cover to meet their needs.

What have we learnt and how will we make positive change to the way we operate our businesses and support our customers now and into the future?

Embracing digital innovation is becoming more essential as customers increasingly expect technology to meet their needs in every area of their life. Lastyear we’ve worked closely with the adviser community to understand their businesses and how we can further enhance the technology that we offer to better support the advice journey.

Offering a seamless and tailored customer journey from quote, through the application and underwriting process to when a policy comes into force is key to making it easier for advisers to help customers to get the cover they need. We’ve made good progress in this space to date and have some big projects in the pipeline for early this year, so watch this space.

Our engagement with advisers throughout the year provided invaluable insight into where we can make enhancements to our products. As a result we’ve rolled out a number of changes including more sustainable pricing on our core products, enhancing our definitions to and we’ve started introducing plain English policy wording. It has been great to hear how this has been received and gives us confidence that we’re moving in the right direction.

As we look ahead to 2021, one premise underpins all of our plans, we’ll continue looking for new opportunities to ensure our product and service offering remains sustainable to protect the long-term needs of New Zealanders.

With our strong global backing, advisers can rest assured we’ll be here to look out for their customers both now and in the long-term.

Last year will go down as a critical turning point for many businesses who will now be far more resilient than they were in January. Let’s take on board the lessons it’s taught us and embrace all forms of change while still holding on to the vital values and connections that have served us so well over the years.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Adviser community as we strive to help everyone in our communities to protect what matters most next year and beyond.

Tags: Cigna Opinion

« Predictions for 2021 – from the Laird’s Desk

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