“It’s extremely important because a couple of years ago they made the decision that they wanted to be a player and they have bought some good people in,” Clark says. “They have brought people like Mike [Farrell] and Mark [Jones] into the business in the last 12-18 months.”
Clark’s own appointment, perhaps, signals LV=’s ambitions.
“I think they [LV=] had a perception of the kind of individual they wanted, which wasn’t your typical sort of actuary, to come in and run the business,” he says, “They wanted somebody that had a sale and a marketing tilt to them to help move the business forward. We’ve got enough actuaries in the business already so it was a case of somebody coming in that knows the market, knows the people, knows the kinds of things that will work, has been part of something that is visionary in the marketplace.”
THE PLAN AHEAD
Clark concedes, though, that there is room for improvement and development at LV=’s protection business. Fortunately, the organisation is in a good position to make those changes, he says.
“From a processing point of view, to be quite honest, our systems need to be updated,” he admits. “They are good for what we’ve got at the moment but if we want to get into the innovation part of the market and move it forward then our systems internally need to progress. And that’s the same in any business but the good thing here is because we are that speedboat we haven’t got the hidden bulk behind us of legacy systems as much as some of the bigger companies have.”
Some of those changes have already been made and LV= has made a significant investment in its business process unit in Exeter, which has just undergone a £1m refurbishment.
“The systems have been updated to make processing quicker for them and easier for our customers moving forward,” he says. “We are investing quite heavily in our back office and our service support centres.”
Those changes, Clark hopes, will help LV= to achieve a 5-7% share of the protection market in the next 18-24 months. And while he says that is “quite a steep move” from where LV= has been, he is confident that the provider has the infrastructure to be able to deal with higher volumes.
“One of the things that we’ve chosen to do is work in the areas that we think we can help to distribute in a profitable, margin-rich environment rather than a stack-it-high-sell-it-cheap environment,” he says.
While LV= offers some low cost options – for example it offers a budget IP plan which is now available on the Avelo Exchange portal as well as elsewhere – Clark says he would be foolish to try to compete with his larger competitors on price.
“We can’t run with L&Gs and Avivas because we just can’t beat them on price so we have to go with where we think the product mix and richness is better for us,” he says. “You pick the markets you want to play in. Some people might call that niche but I think there is a richness of markets out there that we are tapping into.”