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Big changes afoot for life agents?


Release Date: 04/22/2016
Source: Investment Executive
Staff Reference: Leslie Byrnes

Proposals aim to make the advice channel more consumer-friendly

By Megan Harman

Life insurance agents across the country could face new harmonized standards related to proficiency, conduct and sales practices as a result of changes to the advice channel being proposed by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. (CLHIA).

The sweeping set of recommendations, which aim to improve customer protection, would mean greater compliance responsibilities and fewer sales incentives for advisors.

Although some of the proposals would be a challenge to implement, the overall pursuit of creating a more transparent and consumer-friendly distribution channel is being well received by advisors such as Cameron Foley, financial advisor with Hartry Foley Financial of Oakville, Ont., which operates under the umbrella of Markham, Ont.-based Worldsource Financial Management Inc.

"These recommendations were made from the perspective of what's best for the client," says Foley. "It might mean more paperwork or more hoops to jump through, but, at the end of the day, if it's best for the client, it's going to be best for the industry."

The CLHIA's recommendations are outlined in a recent report entitled Insurance Distribution in Canada: Promoting a Customer-Focused System. The report is based on a review of distribution practices, motivated by the growing focus on market conduct among insurance regulators around the world, says Leslie Byrnes, vice president, distribution and pensions, at the CLHIA.

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