Friends Life say of their operations "Friends Life provides a range of financial products and services. We focus on ways of helping people achieve greater long-term financial security for themselves and their families. Friends Life brings together over 200 years of experience in looking after our customers. We started life in March 2011 as a large and successful company, with over 5 million customers worldwide.
What is it that makes Friends Life unique?
As an organisation we strive to really understand our customers, look out for them and be there for them when they need us. In terms of protection, there are a number of things which sets us apart – for example, we offer fracture cover for critical illness policy holders, as well as access to Best Doctors for a second medical opinion.
Friends Life has an astonishing over 200 years of experience. What do you see as being some of the milestones and key moments of change in direction or focus over this expansive period of time?
When Friends Provident, now part of Friends Life, was founded in Yorkshire in 1832, its purpose was to provide life assurance for members of the Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers. Since then a lot has changed; we are now a leading provider of financial services to over five million customers. With key business lines in corporate benefits, individual protection and retirement income, we also offer a wide range of services to IFAs.
||With gender-neutral pricing, RDR and Solvency II on the horizon I think the future of the protection market looks set to be interesting
What are also some of the key changes and developments that have happened in a more contemporary sense, over the last few years or so?
This year we celebrated our first birthday as Friends Life. It’s been a transformational year for our business with a significant amount of change and delivery.
Key milestones in the last year include the appointment of a new CEO, Andy Briggs, who joined in June 2011- and a new CFO, Tim Tookey, who joined earlier this month.
There has also been the creation of a heritage business, specifically to meet the needs of customers with ‘legacy’ products and the launch of a retirement income business in August 2011.
We’ve created a workplace savings platform for UK employers, which was announced in January 2012.
New propositions for the individual and group protection markets have also been launched in the last 12 months, so it’s been a busy year!
What direction or increased specialisation do you see Friends Life taking in the future and what are the future plans for the company?
As well as developing our group and individual protection propositions, we also have the new retirement income business which will be continuing to grow throughout 2012. We continue to innovate – last year we announced our new partnership with Best Doctors, which means that we will work with Best Doctors to develop innovative services in the IFA market. Plans are also in place to build on our successful propositions in the corporate benefits market, as we have also launched our Corporate Platform, an online workplace savings platform offering a pension, cash and stocks and shares ISAs, and investment accounts to employers.
What future trends do you see emerging for the UK health insurance market as a whole?
With gender-neutral pricing, RDR and Solvency II on the horizon I think the future of the protection market looks set to be interesting. We have a busy time ahead of us and it is important that strategies are in place to handle regulatory change smoothly and with minimal impact to our customers.
What does your typical day at Friends Life involve?
I am an Early Bird, so am at my desk just after 7 a.m. A typical day will include some internal planning or review meetings and a meeting or dinner with a key distribution partner.
What part of your role at Friends Life gives you the most satisfaction?
That is easy. Paying the claims when our customers need us most. Ensuring we meet our customers’ expectations quickly and efficiently is important. It is very rewarding for the team when our claimants recognise this and write in to thank us.
Friends Life has an extremely strong social media presence on Twitter. What type of company or industry information can we expect to find by following you and other there any other social media sites that Friends Life can be found on?
Friends Life is active on Twitter through its @FriendsLifeTalk account, which includes updates on breaking news, our views on key issues and our T20 cricket sponsorship. We also have a @VoB_2020 account which includes updates on our latest Visions of Britain 2020 thought leadership campaign. We also have a dedicated Visions of Britain microsite which houses blogs, mini polls and news items relevant to the research. It can be found at www.visionsofbritain2020.co.uk
What is Friends Life’s relationship with intermediaries and do you see scope for further development?
As a partnership organisation, we have excellent relationships with intermediaries. They have been involved in the development of our proposition and products and I see even more opportunity to work closer with them to ensure that our mutual customer expectations are met.
Friends Life has won a large array of awards over the years. Do any of these awards stand above the rest as being particularly special to have received?
We were particularly pleased to achieve Defaqto 5-star-rating for Protect+, our critical illness and income protection product.
The market response has been the best I can remember for a new product and Friends Life will continue to lead the market for quality Protection.
Friends Life is a leading provider of pensions, investments and insurance to over five million customers. With key business lines in corporate benefits, individual protection and retirement income, we offer a range of services to IFAs and our five million Friends.