Cigna New Zealand recently appointed a new general manager of distribution, and CEO Gail Costa says the company’s focus will be on growing its independent adviser channel over the coming months.
Costa says the adviser channel saw significant under-investment from OnePath Life, which Cigna acquired back in January of this year. She says Cigna is now looking to grow its network and relationships with advisers, especially given the increased importance of financial advice to customers hit by the recession.
“Roughly 30% of our business currently comes from independent advisers,” Costa commented.
Read more: OnePath successfully combined with Cigna
“We want to grow all our channels, but we see the real opportunity in the adviser channel as it’s the dominant one in the market. We really do believe that people need good, independent advice in terms of insurance - that’s why we’re going to be prioritising that particular arm.”
“We’re in the fortunate position of having multiple channels - we have a direct arm, and we have a long-running relationship with ANZ bank where we distribute insurance to their customers,” Costa added.
“We’ve also got other relationships with insurers such as Southern Cross. They are all important, but we saw a bigger opportunity here as the adviser channel has been quite under-served in the past.”
Costa says the adviser network cultivated by OnePath Life was relatively small, and that Cigna has since launched a number of initiatives and support tools to make integration easier for advisers looking to join their network.
“Advisers are very resilient,” Costa said.
“We’ve been through several lockdowns, and it’s managed to survive despite being a largely face-to-face business. We introduced a new quote tool in May, we’ve refreshed some prices, and we doubled adviser service commissions during June and July to recognise the heavy load they faced in servicing customers.
“We’re seeing steady improvements, and we’ve been making some changes to bring our products up to date and have advisers be a bigger part of the mix.”