By Deon Theunis, Head of Intermediary Support at Sanlam Individual Life
Most intermediaries will agree that finding cover that completely addresses the needs of professionals is a tough ask. This market faces myriad unique challenges. There needs to be a greater understanding of what professionals really need – and a corresponding, cost-effective product selection to address this. This starts by ensuring your client has a valid Will in place – something most South Africans do not have – as this will highlight many opportunities and provide insight into their unique requirements.
Intermediaries that get it right could cultivate lucrative relationships with these clients from the onset of their careers until the day they retire. Opportunity abounds to upsell and cross-sell, positioning yourself as a partner who is there to support them as they progress through different phases of their lives.
Their future earning potential is immense, with exponential growth across the needs spectrum over time. It’s about earning trust, early on, through solid advice that builds a robust foundation.
Defining the professional
First up, it’s imperative to understand a professional audience. This group is defined by qualification (e.g. two three-year bachelor’s degrees, one four-year bachelor’s degree, an honours, masters or doctorate degree), and by occupation (e.g. CFP/ actuarial scientist, professional accountant, auditor, doctor, etc.).
These individuals have spent at least four years or more pursuing a qualification for their preferred profession. These studies start at around R450 000 and many are still paying off student loans. It’s a costly investment into their future and one they expect will unlock their lifestyle of choice. They want to protect their lifestyle and prospects. They may take a sabbatical one day and are likely to be promoted as they progress in their careers.
Knowing their unique challenges
In terms of challenges, self-employed professionals are constantly aware that if they don’t work, they won’t get paid. They don’t have the luxury of paid sick leave. They also face continuous pressure to cover their overheads. Without a doubt, their greatest asset is their ability to generate an income, this asset should be protected at all costs. An example is a recent, real-life Sanlam client. This 43-year-old veterinarian submitted a claim for R21 341 under the sickness income benefit. Having tested positive for Covid-19, he was booked off from 16-25 January 2022 – ten days in total. Without cover, he would have had to shoulder this cost alone.
For salaried workers, there’s the challenge of being totally reliant on employee benefits, which may be limited and opaque. Most move jobs at some point, potentially multiple times, which also comes with the prospect of failing to preserve and not necessarily converting group life cover. Finally, salaried workers only get so many sick days. In the event of prolonged illness or injury, an income may be at risk.
Knowing what they want
Most professionals are time-starved. They expect a special, client-centric experience where their needs are intuitively understood. They want value – their money should work as hard as they do. They expect custom solutions tailored to their circumstances. And they want a hassle-free claims experience when curveballs happen. They also want regular communication on their preferred platform.
Why tailored offerings are necessary for this market
Professionals seek tax and cost-efficiencies and proper cover with good quality benefits. Right now, very few risk offerings are exclusively tailored for professional clients, which means they may end up with hybrid solutions that don’t necessarily address their needs as comprehensively as a product built specifically for professionals does.
Intermediaries that offer extra value for money will also win these clients’ loyalty. Solutions to consider should offer preferential rates for professionals as well as value in addition to the risk cover. We know professional clients are especially committed to their financial well-being, making offerings like Wealth Bonus which is included at no additional cost in Sanlam’s Premier risk solutions, particularly attractive. This bonus rewards clients for their loyalty with monetary benefits every five years and also provides a monetary benefit to clients who have maintained their policy in the long term but have been fortunate enough not to need this cover. It’s innovations like these that make clients’ money stretch further, which is particularly important to this market.
Professionally, these clients are organised and on top of their game. Intermediaries that help them get similarly financially proficient will win their loyalty for the long term and, ultimately, help them live with confidence in every phase of their lives.