Between 1.5m and 2m people suffer a close bereavement each year. Yet, bereavement processing within the Wealth Industry can be somewhat ‘the poor relation’ when it comes to operational processes. It’s often written off as loss making – a service that has no perceived cost-benefit revenue, just costs and overheads. Lengthy and complex, there are rules and regulations that must be adhered to, identities that need to be verified, details that need to be validated, risks that need to be managed.
In our recent white paper, we put this process under the spotlight to examine whether the industry is doing enough to make this customer journey as frictionless and painless as possible. To help answer this, we surveyed several companies, investigated the online presence of over 30 companies and also spoke to experts from charities, and various death notification services.
What struck me from our findings is that the beginning of this journey is perhaps the area that could be most improved.
In terms of first contact to make a death notification, this may be the first time that a person has dealt with the organisation. So as well as making it as easy and painless as possible, this is an opportunity to make a good first impression from a brand awareness and reputational perspective and increase the likelihood of asset retention. Yet we found that this part of the process was sub-optimal based on the following findings:
- Almost 1/3 of companies don’t have a dedicated bereavement webpage on their website. Of those that do:
- Almost 50% of these were difficult to find.
- The page was often lacking in useful information such as a direct contact phone number and signposting to other useful services.
- Almost 2/3 didn’t offer a facility for online submission of a notification.
- Once notification is made, the requirements vary considerably between organisations:
- Almost 50% only accept an original death certificate, with very few accepting a digital copy.
- The level at which a Grant of Probate is required varies significantly between zero and £75k.
This offers many areas for improvements and process optimisation, including the following:
- Increased use of online as a channel, particularly for the provision of key information, submission of notification and exchange of documents. This really does need to be addressed as the number of people becoming digitally native increases.
- Tying in with the above, the acceptance of digital signing and scanned requirements documents.
- Use of online services for the verification of death and of notifier identities.
- Greater industry collaboration with a view to standardisation. This would facilitate greater consistency and reduce confusion for customers in terms of what they need to provide to each organisation.
- Use of a death notification service e.g. Equiniti’s Death Notification Service or Settld. Whilst there are obvious costs to using this service, this would be counterbalanced to a certain extent by the process efficiencies gained. It also allows customers to make notifications to multiple organisations across various sectors quickly and easily.
With bereavement representing a vulnerability life event, focus on getting this process right would also help to align with the FCAs requirements for the fair treatment of vulnerable customers.
Our white paper explores these and other areas that could be improved and provides recommendations of steps that could be taken in order to bring about better customer and business outcomes.
If your organisation is looking to make improvements in your bereavement process and need assistance in reviewing your current processes, controls and hotspots regarding complaints, please get in touch with us today at email@example.com