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Consumer power: Intermediary association to reveal South Africa’s best financial services brands, as rated by brokers and advisers

26 May 2015 FIA

Stakeholders in the financial services industry are looking forward to the 2015 Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) Awards gala dinner, to be held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on the 4th of June 2015.

Now in its 17th year the FIA Awards are acknowledged as a leading measure of product supplier excellence based on an independent survey of risk and financial advisers, all members of the FIA.

The awards are an opportunity for brokers and advisers to rate the insurance firms (both life and short term), underwriters and investment houses that they interact with as they provide advice and ongoing services to their clients – SA’s consumers.

Financial services firms that sell their product via brokers or financial advisers enjoy the event too, because it is an opportunity for them to rate their performance against that of their peers.

“The FIA Awards is a platform for our members to recognise the insurers and investment houses that give them the best overall support in servicing the public,” says Justus van Pletzen, CEO of the FIA.

“Consumers will benefit by choosing from the brands that feature in the FIA Awards because these firms not only favour professional brokers and advisers to sell their product, but also offer these brokers and advisers the optimal level of product, service and relationship to do the job right.”

An award is issued in each of nine industry categories to cover ‘core’ disciplines in the financial advice space, namely employee benefits, financial planning (which includes risk and investment advice), healthcare and short term insurance.

Financial advice has been under the spotlight since the implementation of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act in 2004. “The tough regulatory environment has increased the cost to advisers of conducting business in South Africa, so they need every bit of help they can get from providers,” says Van Pletzen.

“The FIA, through initiatives such as the annual awards, is a leading driver in the ongoing professionalization of the industry and we continue to work closely with the regulator as the market for financial services products is fine-tuned.”

“This is why Jonathan Dixon, DEO Insurance at the Financial Services Board is on record that quality and professional financial advice is the most critical element to ensure fair treatment and fair outcomes to customers.”

Pieter Aucamp, CEO of Bluestream Research – the independent firm that conducts the awards’ research – says that the FIA Awards survey is among the most comprehensive whole-of-industry broker satisfaction benchmarks produced locally. It is unique in that winners are chosen according to a consistent methodology that has been applied, improved upon and perfected over the past decade.

“The main objective of the annual FIA benchmark survey is to determine and recognise South Africa’s top performing product providers, independently rated on intermediary satisfaction,” he says.

What does it take to win recognition as the best product supplier in the country? Survey participants are asked to rate insurance and investment firms based on product quality, service quality, relationship quality and their overall satisfaction. These firms are then assessed and ranked under each of these ‘headings’ before a final score is calculated.

This year’s survey was conducted over an 11-week period during which time 7000 product provider contracts were evaluated by way of more than 24000 telephone calls. An average of 13 minutes was spent to complete each interview.

“You cannot separate the quality of financial advice that our members give to consumers from the quality of product, relationship and service that insurers deliver to them,” concludes Van Pletzen. “We look forward to the 4th of June when we announce the winners of the 2015 FIA Awards and congratulate those firms that come out tops in this ‘benchmark of provider excellence.’”

“We encourage the runners up in the awards to work with brokers and financial advisers to develop innovative products that underpin the value of good financial advice, because the combination of good product and good advice ensures that intermediaries, product suppliers, regulators and consumers come out winners over the long term.”

 

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