Post Royal Commission Risk Advice – What Needs to Change?


Passionate risk advice specialist, consultant and author, Chris Unwin**, has penned a brief article on what he thinks needs to change for the world of risk advice following the release of the Royal Commission recommendations.

Chris Unwin

In keeping with his uncomplicated philosophy on delivering valued risk advice, Unwin urges advisers to circle back towards what it means to genuinely engage with clients amid the noise and issues being generated by the Banking Royal Commission fallout and other recent regulatory changes being imposed on all advisers – risk-focussed advisers in particular.

Unwin’s message around engagement won’t be new for many existing advisers, but as he tells Riskinfo, being reminded of the basics around engagement and trust can be just the tonic for experienced risk advisers as well as those new to the sector:

Post Royal Commission Risk Advice – What Needs to Change?

The prospect/client and the products/solutions are the constants in the risk advice space. It is the adviser, or more specifically the adviser’s engagement process that has always been and still is the variable – and it is this client engagement process that has to change in the post Royal Commission environment.

Ever since the FSRA in 2001, FoFA in 2012/13 and now the Royal Commission in 2019, the client engagement process in the risk advice space has become more about ticking compliance boxes and meeting regulatory requirements than about gaining the trust of and building a strong and meaningful relationship with the client, thereby creating a quality experience rather than just completing a transaction – and this is what has to change moving forward.

So, what are some of the things that advisers should be doing in their engagement process to gain or regain trust and build stronger and more meaningful relationships with their clients? Here are just a few suggestions in outline:

1) At the introduction stage of the first client meeting

  • Be genuinely personable right from the word go
  • Establish and get agreement on the purpose of the meeting you are about to have
  • Remove as many unknowns as possible
  • Allay as many fears as possible
  • Dispel as many myths as possible
  • Create expectations both for now as a prospect and for the future as a client
  • Get your client’s buy-in to the concepts of a long-term business relationship and regularity and continuity of service

2) At the Fact Find stage of the first client meeting

  • Conduct a wants analysis not a needs analysis
  • Ask questions that facilitate your client verbalising what financial outcomes they would want in certain specific ‘what if’ scenarios.

3) Before the end of the first client meeting

  • Pre-empt any potential underwriting ‘red flags’ and educate your client on the underwriting process. Where necessary, manage your client’s expectations and paint the worst-case scenario.

4) At the second client meeting

  • Don’t launch straight into the recommendations – re-establish a rapport.
  • Keep the recommendations as simple as possible and try and maintain a consistency in the terminology, concepts and outcomes that were used/identified on the Fact Find.
  • Commit to facilitating and accelerating the completion of business to the best of your ability.

5) During the underwriting process

  • Be proactive not reactive – deliver on your promise to facilitate/accelerate the completion of business.
  • Keep your client informed at every step of the way. NB: regular contact will cement your relationship with the client.

6) After the issue of policy documents

  • Have a face to face ‘policy explanation’ meeting with every new client once the policy documents are issued. The commercial benefits of this meeting are huge.

7) Ongoing service

  • Have at least one face to face review meeting with your client every year – more than one if required.
  • Always call every client at their policy anniversary time every year.

For some (mainly newer) advisers, these steps may involve a radical change to your process and for other (more seasoned) advisers, they may just involve getting back to basics, but either way they are guaranteed to separate you from the pack and establish some very positive points of differentiation.

** Chris Unwin will be conducting nation-wide workshops in March and April for risk advisers under the theme of: How to Gain Trust and Build Stronger Client Relationships:


  1. There’s nothing here about commissions Chris. Or are you still peddling the nonsense that people are prepared to pay a fee to their adviser and a life insurance premium?

  2. Very good article from Chris.

    I hope that he has learned a valuable lesson from experienced advisers that specialize in Risk advice, that the Mantra of, “clients are happy to pay appropriate fee’s for service, for risk advice and implementation, is dead.”

  3. Agree, nice article – I’ve been doing all of this for decades and it works. ‘Want’ instead of ‘need’ analysis has proven a neutral point for me, but doesn’t hurt.

    As concerned said – if I keep on doing what I’ve been doing for so long – who’s gonna pay for it? 20% ain’t gonna cut it. And the fallacy that an average client is going to pay a fee – on top of 20% – plus the premium…not gonna happen.

    And do you think the life offices are going to cut premium rates when it’s a flat 20% – nope. That ain’t gonna happen either.

    Thank goodness I have a large ongoing commission base that can help me dilute the cost impact of an inevitable flat 20% commission on new business. But what about all those who do not or are new to the industry. The newbies have little choice but to go holistic. In 10-15 years time the only risk specialist advisers left will be in retirement homes!

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