Biggest launch in the UK mutual sector for a generation
· The Military Mutual to break bank and general insurer stranglehold over military personnel
· Extent to which financial brands have let down the Military Family uncovered
“For too long, members of the Military Family have been a square peg in a round hole when it comes to financial services. Many, especially those serving or moving into civvy street, have needs different to the average consumer and the mainstream financial services community has never really woken up to this. Those that have served their country, or are transitioning into civilian life deserve better: Better value from better values. Today we start the journey of giving members of the military and their families a level playing field – from an organisation that puts them first.”
Major General (Ret’d) Sir Sebastian Roberts, Chairman of The Military Mutual and author of “Soldiering: The Military Covenant”
The Military Mutual (TMM) today launches a better deal to meet the varied and often complex personal finance needs of the Military Family – Regulars, Reservists and Veterans from the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the MoD – and their family members.
The timing of the launch is significant. The return of the troops from Afghanistan puts in sharper focus the need to better respond to the financial services needs of military personnel.
More than 20 million people are part of the Military Family but many experience difficulty finding financial products that take full account of their particular needs – whether this is a consequence of serving or feeling unsupported by general financial services companies when making the transition into civilian life. The Military Mutual is a new financial services company run by and for its Members, serviced by staff that understand the military and led by distinguished ex-military personnel from all three services in conjunction with experts in mutuality whose values mirror those of HM Armed Forces.
Nationwide research for The Military Mutual has revealed that two in five members of the Military Family (39%) say they do not trust mainstream financial services providers. When it came to considering how traditional insurance companies had failed to fully meet the needs of the Military Family, the top concerns raised comprised:
· Automatically putting up insurance renewals – 45%
· Operating policies to the letter, not showing any discretion to my particular needs or circumstances – 36%
· Bombarding me with jargon – 33%
· Not giving me the cover I need – 32%
· Not taking the security of my living arrangements into account when quoting – 29%
· Raising the price of my car insurance even when the car is parked in the barracks – 23%
At today’s launch event in London, Major General (Ret’d) Sir Sebastian Roberts, Chairman of The Military Mutual – and author of ‘Soldiering: The Military Covenant’ – outlined the range of financial services being launched that aim to provide better value based on better values – from a business that embodies the bonds of loyalty, trust and responsibility which are enshrined in The Armed Forces Covenant.
1. Comprehensive personal cover:
From 29 April, The Military Mutual will offer a wide range of cover, spanning motor, home, kit and landlord. Additional products covering motor bikes, travel, personal accident and pet will follow in the months ahead. The products will be targeted at both the serving and non-serving members of the Military Family, but TMM particularly aims to eliminate or reduce costs that serving people sometimes face from the general insurance sector caused by their unique military way of life. For example, the prices TMM offers are not affected by living on a base, in barracks or having to move frequently as a result of duties.
2. Small business support:
From mid-year, TMM will also be offering commercial lines cover for those who have left the Armed Forces to set up a small business and play a vital role in supporting the country’s economic recovery. The Military Mutual will offer clear and straightforward products to small businesses spanning a wide range of sectors and trades. Products will be priced to be both sustainable and competitive, and TMM will have dedicated specialist underwriters on hand to provide bespoke quotations.
3. Member benefits:
TMM will be introducing a range of free and added value services that tackle issues of particular importance to the Military Family. The first such benefit is Legal Defence Services. All serving members of the United Kingdom Armed Forces facing serious charges can apply to TMM for free Legal Defence Services. Strict criteria will apply, but if granted, the services aim to level the playing field for serving personnel by providing representation not conditional on the ability to pay.
4. Supportive customer service:
TMM has launched its own dedicated service centre, based in Portsmouth, manned predominantly by staff that have a direct connection with the military and are trained to understand and empathise with the particular needs and challenges faced by members of the Military and their families.
5. Online transactions:
During its first few months, TMM is keen that its first interaction with its Members is through conversation. This helps Members experience the mutual ethos that underpins the service and also gives TMM the opportunity to listen to Members and their needs. Within the next two months, TMM will be offering a full transactional service via its website, allowing Members to buy, modify and check their products on the go – as well as providing forums and help pages that will share tips and helpful information.
The new organisation is a mutual, and today’s launch represents the most significant new company launch in the mutual sector for a generation. As a mutual, the organisation is owned by its Members and is free of outside shareholder interests. Products will be clear, simple and designed to be responsive to Member needs. Already, thought is being given to a broader move into banking and mainstream legal services and the shape and form of additional future services will be determined by what Members want: A service based on integrity and a product offer based on listening.
Further, any surpluses made will be used to benefit the Members – whether this takes the form of discretionary Member benefits or supporting military-related causes that matter to the Military Family.
The mutual expertise is being delivered by Regis Mutual Management (RMML), the international market leader in modern discretionary mutuals. Since 2007 Regis has been the force behind creating and managing strong, efficient and well performing mutuals, countering the trend of demutualisation seen in the UK since the 1980s and the inherent weaknesses of the traditional insurance sector.
Lieutenant General (Ret’d) Sir Bill Rollo, Director of The Military Mutual commented: “The sheer size of the Military Family warrants the need for organisations that build financial products based around specific needs and requirements. With The Military Mutual, Members will share ownership of an organisation that puts them first and reinvests surpluses to support the causes and projects they care about. The Military Mutual is a community that will protect members of the Military Family. Together we are stronger. Together we can support and protect Members through transition and moments of uncertainty. Together we can ensure that members of the military and their families never again feel disadvantaged by financial services companies.”
Paul Koronka, CEO of Regis Mutual Management and Board Member of TMM adds: “After an era of broken trust in big mainstream financial services firms, consumers are looking for something better. Not just better products but solutions from an organisation that operates and conducts itself in a different fashion. The ethos of mutuality has never been more relevant than it is today and we are building a new generation of mutuals that are strong and efficient. The launch of The Military Mutual signposts a new era where many communities fed up with traditional financial companies can make the viable decision to build something better themselves – and something that exists for the sole purpose of looking after its members. Times are changing and this is good news for anyone that wants to see greater diversity and true choice in the financial services sector.”
Martin Shaw, Chief Executive of the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM) said: “The launch of TMM is a welcome new addition to the mutual sector. We need to see more mutuals capable of challenging PLC banks and insurers, and we need to see more policy action to remove barriers to the development of new mutuals in the future. The Military Mutual is the exception that disproves the rule that currently launching a new financial mutual is almost impossible. What this continues to demonstrate is the increasing role mutuality offers not only as part of a compelling vision for the broader financial services sector but more importantly improving people’s lives.”