1 November 2022



  • Cost-of-living ranks as the number one concern for clients this autumn, with mortgage interest rate rises a close second
  • Over half of advisers said that the rising cost-of-living was likely to reverse the trend seen over the past two years of increased client willingness to talk about protection
  • A third disagreed and said they think client willingness to talk about protection will persist
  • Over four fifths of advisers (82%) said they were not yet being contacted by clients to reduce or cancel protection policies
  • Just over half of advisers said they had a retention strategy in place to help convince clients not to cancel their protection, but 47% of advisers said they did not

Guardian has today launched the results of its adviser research into how the current economic context, and its combination of financial challenges, is affecting protection advice conversations. The research collates the views of 701 advisers and was conducted between 11 August and 3 September 2022.

Clients’ top concerns

When asked to rank their clients’ top 6 concerns from a list of options, cost-of-living is what most advisers (58%) said was their clients’ number one worry. This was followed by mortgage interest rate rises (23% ranked this as number one). When allowing for weighting of the rankings across the top 6 concerns, the results remain consistent. Cost-of-living remained the top worry, with a score of 5.02; followed by mortgage interest rate rises at 4.51. Losing their income came next with a score of 3.59, followed by being diagnosed with a critical illness (2.94). Some clients were worried about inflation eroding the value of their assets (2.68), and Covid-19 came bottom of the list, with a score of 2.28. That said, Covid-19 still appeared as the top concern for a minority, with 8% ranking it as their clients’ number one worry.

The impact on protection conversations

When asked if there was still an increased client willingness to talk about protection as a result of the pandemic, 62% said yes. 24% disagreed and thought there was not, and a minority of 14% said they didn’t believe that the pandemic had ever had an impact on client willingness to talk about protection. When asked about whether they think the rising cost-of living will reverse the trend of increased client willingness to talk about protection, over half (56%) of advisers thought it would. A third, disagreed, and thought the trend would still persist.

Cancelling policies or reducing cover

82% of advisers said that, to date, they were not seeing clients actively contacting them to reduce their premiums or cancel their cover. However, 18% said they were starting to be contacted. 62% said they were actively reviewing their clients’ outgoings due to the rising cost-of-living, while 38% said they weren’t.


Advisers were also asked about their approach to retention. When faced with a client who is struggling with the rising cost of living and wants to review their protection policy, 44% of advisers said they would not recommend that a client cancels their cover. 16% said they’d considering reducing their cover (to reduce premiums) and 13% said they’d look at changing their mix of covers (if they had more than one policy). 8% said they’d advise skipping inflation increases associated with their increasing policy, and just 3% said they’d look to replace their existing cover with a cheaper type of policy.

When asked about retention strategies, the result was mixed. 30% of advisers said their firms has a strategy to convince existing clients not to cancel or reduce their premiums and that they had adapted it in line with the cost-of-living crisis. 23% said they had a strategy but had not adapted it. Worryingly, 47% of advisers said they did not have a strategy to deal with clients wanting to cancel cover or reduce premiums.

Advisers were asked to tell us what they say to clients who are struggling financially and talking to them about reducing or cancelling cover. They were able to pick more than one answer. In this question advisers pointed to a range of talking points that they used to convince clients not to cancel their cover. These include:

  • It could cost them more if they cancel now and take out a new policy in the future (66%)
  • It leaves them and their family unprotected (60%)
  • Protection can make sure you can pay your mortgage if things go wrong (57%)
  • There’s other discretionary spend and even insurance options (e.g. phone insurance)
    which can be cancelled first (52%)
  • Cancelling protection can undermine a carefully constructed financial plan (34%)
  • Another third said that a time of high prices isn’t when to cancel protection.
  • 18% said their client messages would include that inflation was only likely to be a temporary problem.

Cover breaks

A portion of the advisers surveyed (162 advisers) responded to a question about whether they were likely to recommend that clients pause their cover (and pause their monthly premiums) if the provider offered this as an option. During this pause, the client wouldn’t be covered and wouldn’t be able to claim. The response to this question was mixed. The majority said no (46%), followed by 34% who were unsure. Only 20% said yes.

New clients

We asked how difficult advisers were finding it to convince new clients of the need for protection. 633 advisers answered this question and results were mixed. Some said they found it either ‘easy’ (21%) or ‘very easy’ (2%). 47% were ‘neutral’ and 28% said they found it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ (2%)

When asked what is the biggest concern your clients have when you talk to them about their protection needs, the messages advisers said resonated the most with new clients were that ‘they want peace of mind that their family is protected (31%) and that they want to ‘make sure their mortgage/their biggest debt was covered’ (23%). 20% said their clients still wanted the ‘cheapest cover they can find’ and 17% said their clients wanted ‘the best cover they can afford’. 6% said their clients wanted the maximum amount of cover they can afford.

Jacqui Gillies, Marketing and Proposition Director, Guardian, commented:

“Our job, as an industry, is to get clients the protection they need and keep them protected. This is more important than ever in uncertain times, when there are so many different areas of financial challenge happening simultaneously. Cost-of-living, mortgage interest rate rises and high energy prices, will each have varying degrees of impact for different clients. That’s on top of Covid-19 remaining a concern for a small proportion of people. For advisers, if that wasn’t enough, there’s the additional pressure rate rises and lenders withdrawing products puts on the mortgage application process; as well as the implications of the Consumer Duty regulation.

This complexity is highlighted in our research, which indicates there is no ‘one’ agreed direction in terms of how advisers think these economic challenges will play out for protection. Different clients will each be navigating their own individual financial circumstances in this new economic context. Advice firms will be looking at their own client base, business model, approach to protection, and processes, to understand how best to support their clients at this time. What’s clear is that it is certainly not a time to shrink away from protection conversations – clients need good advice now more than ever!”

-Release ends-


Notes to editors:

Press enquiries to Natalie Robinson, 07789 501146,

Guardian Financial Services is an appointed representative of Scottish Friendly

All products are provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited (SFA) and we have an agreement with them to underwrite and issue the protection policies we distribute through the UK intermediary channel.

As an appointed representative of Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited, Guardian Financial Services Limited is the market-facing brand under which we promote our proposition and engage with advisers.

Background to Guardian Financial Services, owned by Gryphon Group Holdings

Guardian, the life and protection insurance business, launched in 2018 and pledged to grow the protection market. The brand promise of ‘Life. Made Better.’ reflects the company’s commitment to rethink and reinvent protection for the better; making sure customers get cover that’s easier to understand, simple to buy and designed to never let them down.

Guardian’s business partners

Gryphon Group Holdings is majority owned by Punter Southall Group as the largest equity capital investor. Guardian partners with UnderwriteMe for its Underwriting Engine, Liss Systems, the UK arm of Nasdaq-listed EXL, for its policy administration technology, and Space, for its front end technology, branding and marketing. Guardian’s reinsurance partners are Hannover Re and Gen Re.