FSC life insurance conference – an industry in the spotlight

Susie Bell, 18 March 2016

Re-building trust and ensuring clear and plain communication with consumers – these were some of the messages to come out of the Financial Services Council’s (FSC) life insurance conference held in Sydney this week.

For an industry undergoing unprecedented change and scrutiny and a potential Senate Inquiry looming, the conference pondered – how can we do things better?

FSC CEO Sally Loane announced that the life insurance Code of Practice would be strengthened to include a steering group made up of consumer representatives, the Financial Rights Legal Centre and the Consumer Action Law Centre, as well as senior life insurance executives.

ASIC’s Peter Kell sent a clear message to the industry by saying the Code would need to go above and beyond what the law already does and that it would need ‘substance and bite.’

Many of the conference speakers acknowledged the challenges facing the industry and that wholesale changes were needed to regain consumer trust and confidence. Changes to legacy systems, definitions, data collection and sharing, language and the overall way the industry communicates. No easy task, but a necessary one, especially when dealing with such an emotive topic.

It was encouraging to see insurers tackling this from within their own organisations, especially in addressing the rise in mental health issues. With 1 in 3 financial services workers affected by some form of anxiety and stress, MetLife CEO Deanne Stewart said it all needed to start in the work environment – we need to help create positive workplaces that can still be high performing but also caring and compassionate.

The life insurance industry is at a tipping point. Change is needed to protect the industry’s reputation and all the good work that is done for the benefit of consumers.

As ANZ Wealth MD Alexis George put it ‘”it can’t just be about talk – there has to be action.”

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