How life insurers want to change the habits of savers

Posted on Nov 27, 2020 at 6:00 a.m.

Insurers determined to change the savings habits of their clients know they can’t do it without their salespeople. Evidenced by the announcement at the beginning of this week by Generali France the creation of a management company responsible for offering “Technical support, training and solutions” to its distribution networks: general agents, wealth management advisers, etc.

This new entity, called Generali Wealth Solutions, wants to facilitate the “Transformation of the savings model” of the French subsidiary of the Italian group. The insurer announced in 2019 the end of the “world of euro king funds”. In other words, there is no longer any question in the future of massively distributing these contracts, generally invested in bonds, accompanied by a capital guarantee that have made life insurance successful for decades. In particular, it wishes to encourage the subscription of life insurance in unit-of-account (UC), without a capital guarantee and generally invested in shares therefore more risky, or even Eurocroissance contracts, halfway between euro funds and UC.

Sell ​​more complex products

This implies a cultural change. “The distribution networks were formed to meet certain needs at a certain time, explains Alessandra Gaudio, who chairs Generali Wealth Solutions, presented as a “task force” of ten people, expected to grow quickly. Today, the challenge is to go further in terms of expertise to sell more complex products, with, for example, structured products, products invested in real estate, private equity or infrastructure ”.

This initiative comes at a time when all insurers are working to develop their savings product offers. Debates on the evolution of the traditional model of life insurance have been going on for several years now, but the economic crisis linked to Covid-19, which postpones any rate hike to the distant future, only strengthens their determination. Some insurers remain very attached to life insurance contracts in euros, but seek to change their parameters, while others seek to push new products, such as retirement savings plans.

Complete and costly transformation

So many initiatives that suppose to be set to music by salespeople in the field. ” The euro fund is easy to sell with a versatile sales network that sells savings but also non-life insurance, explains Stéphane Dessirier, CEO of the group MACSF. There is no arbitrage to do, no crisis to manage, for a network it is extremely comfortable. As soon as there are units of account, specialized advisers who know the markets are needed. It is a complete transformation of the mode of distribution and of the quality of support that you must provide and it costs more ”.

This type of site is also sensitive. The industry knows that it is closely watched by the gendarme of the insurers, always quick to urge respect for the “duty of advice” vis-à-vis customers. This subject has taken on particular resonance in recent weeks, when certain life insurance contracts have been contaminated by the difficulties of the funds distributed by the management company H2O, affiliated to Natixis.

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