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Financial Services
Monday, September 7, 2015 - 02:16
Good news, oddly…

The emerging market in SA is getting much more discerning about, and demanding of, financial services companies, according to Metropolitan’s Fairness Feedback survey.

The benchmark survey assesses public perceptions of the life industry’s adherence to the Treating Customers Fairly principles in emerging market segments. The company’s second edition shows a decline in ratings on the elements of fair treatment surveyed.
The Treating Clients Fairly principles were established by the Financial Services Board (FSB) in 2011 and are there to highlight the conduct that is required of financial services providers to ensure all consumers are treated fairly in terms of appropriate products, clear information, proper advice, performance, service and pay outs.
The most marked drops in the average industry rating for Treating Customers Fairly concerned unreasonable barriers for clients and a lack of suitable advice.
Berniece Hieckmann, Client Solutions Executive at Metropolitan, said the findings were good news as they demonstrated that the emerging market is waking up to its rights and becoming less tolerant of poor service. “The emerging market has traditionally been generous in its ratings and appreciation of financial services providers. This may have led to this market being seen by some as a soft arena to rush into with sub-optimal service levels, high margins and an assumption that the client was locked-in.
“But the party seems to be ending. We all need to be more considerate about providing good value solutions to real needs rather than simply diversifying income streams.”
Hieckmann believes there is a combination of reasons for this trend including the work done by both the FSB and the financial services companies themselves to educate consumers, the impact of legislation like the Consumer Protection Act and the digitisation of information, which has ensured a faster spread of knowledge and client opinions. A difficult economic environment also plays a role in making clients even more careful about managing their money.
She adds that there were some clear positives for the industry. “The survey shows we are demonstrably communicating in a clearer and more accessible way than ever before and we are better at treating clients equitably, which is an important principle in the emerging market where parity of treatment is valued.”
Hieckmann says that the survey is important to Metropolitan because it benchmarks the company in terms of competitors and as an industry. “We use it to ensure that our business is aligned with the principles of client-centricity, which we take very seriously.”
The survey also helped inform Metropolitan’s service upgrades such as an increase in the number of branches, proactive paperless claims to reduce waiting times on pay outs, clear and transparent product guides and the recently launched funeral life event manager and augmented reality app.

Note
The Metropolitan Fairness Feedback survey was conducted by Plus94 Research during 2013 and 2015. Quantitative study on a nationally representative sample (1000 people) across nine provinces conducted to develop TCF scores.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:28.9 1st September, 2015
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