The FIA has taken a decision to cancel the 2020 FIA Intermediary Experience Awards and its accompanying survey over economic concerns linked to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The decision to cancel the 2020 Awards follows deep deliberation between the FIA executive and our 2020 FIA Partners. We debated the financial viability of conducting the survey, and hosting the awards celebration, against the current economic backdrop, and concluded it would be impossible to proceed. This will be the first time in 22 years that you, our members, are unable to celebrate the financial product suppliers that deliver the best overall experience as you go about the business of giving advice in the employee benefits, financial planning, healthcare, and short term insurance disciplines.
We could not justify the financial commitment required to run the extensive member survey and host a glamorous awards ceremony at a time when our members, our partners, and product suppliers are struggling with the economic consequences of the coronavirus and ensuing nationwide lockdown. We also had to consider that your focus will be on retaining clients and rebuilding your businesses as the country emerges from lockdown.
The FIA executive has also questioned the sense in conducting a comprehensive survey of intermediary experience at a time when global economic upheaval has resulted in ‘business unusual’ in the insurance and investment sectors. We are aware that relationships between FIA members and product suppliers, especially those in the short term insurance sector, are under pressure as clients, brokers, and insurers get to grips with their respective exposures post-lockdown.
Not all is lost. Two interim initiatives are on the cards to maintain the awards’ momentum and ensure a ‘new and improved’ FIA Intermediary Experience Awards in 2021. An internal review of the intermediary experience survey questionnaire is currently underway to simplify the survey and strip out unnecessary repetition. Our 2020 FIA Partners will be asked for their inputs during the final stage of the review process.
This initiative aims to increase transparency around the awards selection criteria and make it easier for product providers to deliver on your expectations going forward. It is further hoped that this initiative will contribute to a clearer understanding among financial product providers about which aspects of their distribution support and product design most resonate with advisors and brokers.
A second initiative is proposed for the final quarter of 2020. Over the next months we will meet with our 2020 FIA Partners to discuss an alternative research project that will be conducted towards the end of the year. This research will focus on the development of financial advice and intermediated distribution across the financial services sector rather than narrowly focusing on our members’ experiences.
The FIA will team up with our current awards survey partner, Ask Afrika, to find out what our members, and stakeholders in the broader market, believe are the best ways to take our industry forward. We intend to do our part in promoting the development, evolution, and recovery of the financial services sector post-COVID19.
Lizelle van der Merwe