Start-Up Insurer Plans Move Into Retail

Integrity Life, a new entrant to the life insurance sector, will offer a full suite of retail life insurance products available through financial advisers by the middle of the year following its acquisition of QBE Life.

Integrity Group Managing Director, Chris Powell

The acquisition of QBE Life by Integrity Group Holdings for $27.1 million, will result in the transfer of the former’s life insurance licence and its renaming as Integrity Life Australia.

The deal, which was recently approved by APRA, includes an arrangement for Integrity Life to underwrite the life insurance component of QBE’s consumer credit insurance which is sold through financial institutions.

Integrity Group Managing Director, Chris Powell said the start-up insurer was being funded by sophisticated investors and had so far raised $165 million of capital, comprising equity and debt facilities, from local and overseas investors.

Powell, who is a former Chief Financial Officer at Zurich Australia and a former Chief Operating Officer of Centric Wealth, added that retail products were planned for release in mid-2018 after the release of group insurance products, aimed at the small to medium enterprise sector, in the next few months.

“We are looking at the full product suite for retail products and are currently developing those products…”

“We are looking at the full product suite for retail products and are currently developing those products that will focus on the needs of consumers and will match the changes in their lives,” Powell said.

“We believe they will be easier and simpler for consumers to understand, and we are contacting advice groups and looking at open APLs as a way to gain quick access to the advice market,” he added.

Powell said advisers held a key role in helping consumers and businesses find appropriate insurance for their needs but were undervalued by the insurance sector.

“We want advisers to feel we listen to their needs and their clients’ and we will act to meet those needs. We have the opportunity to build our products from the ground up,” he said, adding that Integrity will use QBE Life as a launch pad to provide new products and processes free of the legacy systems common in the market.

“The Top 10 life insurers hold 96% market share – we are about to see their number reduced to a top seven or six. This means there is a place for new operators to disrupt the market with differentiated products and services,” Powell said.

  • paulkate72

    Integtrity has noble aspirations it seems. For instance, their mission statement here says: “We want advisers to feel we listen to their needs and their clients’ and we will act to meet those needs.”
    How many other new entrants to our market have said something similar? Time will tell, but it will at least give advisers something else to focus on other than the much-unwanted LIF.

  • Alleycat

    Dear Mr Powell,
    If you want to succeed as a new entrant in the Life insurance market, you need to differentiate your product offering from every other insurer. Offering another “me too” suite of products like everyone else, won’t cut it.!
    It’s not always about price or the ability to pay claims, whilst they are a consideration.

    Life insurance for the true believers has always been about the benefits, the security and the peace of mind those benefits provide for the financial well being of clients,… what if or just in case.
    The current crop of life companies that remain, have forgotten those important ingredients, and today it’s all about offering the same inferior product line as everyone else, screw the adviser (which is why we have the LIF legislation) and profitability that generously pays the management and the shareholders.
    Everything else is just collateral damage to achieve that end.

    If you want to find out how you may achieve your ambition, please respond to this post with contact details and I will share some ideas from the past that were successful when there were 57 life companies to choose from

    • Darryl Elsley

      Alleycat, you are spot on. Let us hope that the way forward achieves results for clients with new and simple products that reward the client. Nothing exists today to do this, because Legacy Products are long gone. Rewarding the Adviser/Agent, sounds too good to be true these days.
      Let’s see the difference.

    • Chris Powell

      Dear Alleycat,
      Thanks for your comments. You are, of course, entirely correct.
      When I said we will offer the suite of products it did not mean that they will be the same as every other life insurers’ products.

      We will differentiate. Predominately by designing our products from the ground up to meet the needs of retail customers, not the needs of an institutional life insurer. Meeting customer needs, and doing that with a product that can adapt to changing needs and is customisable to meet the specific needs of each client, as well as bringing some new product solutions to the market is where we are heading. Product simplification is also key – the consumer needs to be able to understand what it is they are buying and they need to feel that are getting a value for money product.

      Then, from an adviser point of view, we want to be the life insurer that is the easiest for advisers to do business with. Our technology solution will be the key enabler here. If we can be the easiest to business with, advisers will spend less time doing that business and, in fact, will have time to write more business more quickly with us.

      I can’t say much more than this now because to do so would tell all the other insurers too much about what we are doing and how we are innovating.

      So, in summary, we will offer a complete solution across product, technology and service to customers and advisers. We will not be simply reproducing more of what’s already on offer. We will be completely different; agile; adaptive and innovative. And we will bring integrity back to life insurance. That’s our brand. It is what we will do.

      I am looking forward to welcoming you into the Integrity adviser family.
      Kind regards
      Chris Powell
      MD & CEO, Integrity Group

      PS please feel free to get in touch with my EA if you want to talk further. Her email is anita.jones@integritylife.com.au and she can arrange a time for us to chat.

    • JM

      Hi Alleycat,
      I agree with 99% of what you say. The one statement I disagree with you is “generously pays .. the shareholders”. This is not correct. The shareholders of all those “me too” product offerings have been very poorly rewarded for their investments. Their returns on equity are quite horrendous. This is why we’re seeing the banks sell their life businesses for such low prices. So, to me it looks like the “me too” products aren’t cutting it for anyone.

  • Squeaky_1

    This is a true breath of fresh air to an old Risky adviser like me. I have most certainly become disillusioned over the years (last 5-10 especially) with life offices saying things like “we are passionately committed to the adviser distribution model”. Those very same life companies then fail to champion things like keeping commissions the same or pushing for a separate licence for risk advisers. Worse, these life companies will encourage things like a 2 YEAR claw-back on the honestly earned income of the advisers it is supposed to be committed to supporting.
    .
    The writing is on the wall from these creatures that they want advisers OUT and they want low cost computer systems selling their products with underwriting at point of CLAIM. Added to this I have seen life companies abandon me as an adviser if I dare stop selling their products for a period of time EVEN THOUGH in the past I may have been one of their superstars in a particular product line. Apparently the old adage of only being worth/as good as your last month’s production is their creed. In other words there is no loyalty or consistency as the BDM staff and/or various executives move from company to company. All this, added to LIF has made me look to the exits with anticipation of forced retirement.
    .
    Mr. Powell, I salute you. It seems to me your heart AND mind is in the right place. For me to stay in the industry past 2020 (age 60/super) and go ALL the way to 2024 (when the self-interested academics reckon I won’t be any good for my clients anymore!) I would need to see something like Mr. Powell’s ‘Integrity Life’ up and operating and staying true to principles. If Integrity and it’s executive can stay true through the initial success AND get past the point of major success WITHOUT compromising on their principles then that will be the real accomplishment to applaud.
    .
    So many life companies have succumb to hubris, ego, greed and complacency. I’ve had close relationships with large AND small life groups and the pattern repeats where they get a level of success and the adviser relationships are taken for granted. Friends Provident, Guardian Assurance, Aetna, Occidental et al – AND most of the current big players have all degraded in some respect when it comes to adviser relationships, product and service. production IN THE DOOR is the only metric upon which they value advisers! Let nobody convince you otherwise. Sadly, it wasn’t always like this.
    .
    I honestly wish Integrity Life the very best and applaud Mr. Powell for this very brave and difficult undertaking. I would be more pleased than most to see it succeed. I have no doubt whatsoever it will succeed IF and ONLY IF, he does what he says i.e. completely different products AND STAYS loyal to those advisers that do the right thing by Integrity Life. If he can simply ‘KEEP HIS WORD’ (a black art these days in life coys) then this will raise him and Integrity Life above the Great Unwashed. All the best Mr. Powell, I really do wish you and your new baby the best as it sounds like you deserve it. Great name for a life company by the way! 🙂

  • Alleycat

    Dear Mr Powell,
    I welcome the opportunity to discuss this further.
    I was in the middle management of a little innovative life company called Greater Pacific Life. It had products that no other life company offered.
    It was subsequently bought by the ANZ bank for $40m and it took the bank 18 months to recoup the return on their investment.
    Here’s the irony of this, with such a successful purchase, you would expect the bank to throw more money at it.
    Sadly, there has always been a cultural divide between banks and insurance companies and instead of cultivating and developing the life company, the bank ultimately dismantled the offerings available, let those responsible for it’s long term success wither on the vine, and so a lot of good people scattered to the 4 winds.

    In case your wondering why I use a pseudonym, …. well in the early days when I used my real identity to various publications, I had a plethora of people I didn’t know from various states sending me emails, telephoning, agreeing with my comments.
    It got overwhelming, which is why I’m kind of anonymous to almost everyone but a handful.
    I will be in touch and I thank you for your response.