Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rationalisation in the Life & Pensions Industry in Ireland

Last week Zurich Life announced (quietly) that it plans to close the Cork and Galway branches and is looking for about 70 voluntary redundancies. The company cites the continuous decline in the health of the Life & Pensions industry, since it peaked in 2007.

What’s surprising, is that it has taken 5 years to come to this conclusion and that there have not been similar occurrences with some of the other players in the market.

You see, I’d consider Zurich Life to be one of the better players in terms i) the product range they have to offer to the end consumer ii) their service and iii) a unique ability to listen to what type of product I want and try to deliver it.

There are two existing players that have basically single (okay) product offerings and I don’t know if their parents are going to plough money into the small Irish market at this time. Why would they? It’s a mess.

There are two others that I would find it very difficult to place business with based on past experience with service and crappy products. Standard Life wouldn’t be one of these.

The biggest operator is owned by the State and has just swallowed up Quinn Life. There’s a few boutique players flogging deposit based tracker bonds to death. Bank Of Ireland are ‘trying’ to sell New Ireland.

The only speculative conclusion that I can come to is that: now that Zurich Life have made a move some of the others will follow by letting folk go to reduce costs in an attempt to enhance profitability. Life & Pension companies in Ireland don’t like to be ‘first’ with crappy news so I’d expect a few of the others to come forward any day now and tell us how terrible things actually are in the industry.