Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4Putting the ‘life’ into life insurance Say what you like about retail life insurance, it does tend to come up with innovations that the group side aspires to. So Unbalanced wonders whether any group BDM is willing to put themselves out there as far as Jordan Hawke, the general manager of Asteron, did in launching the insurer’s new customer wellness initiative last month. Dubbed Asteron Life, the first phase of the program will see the more portly policyholders challenged to improve their health, in return for a reduction of their premium loading. Hawke volunteered himself as the Asteron Life guinea pig, and went to the doctor’s to get a series of health measures, including for body-mass index (BMI), cholesterol levels and the presence of sugars implicated in Type 2 diabetes.
Like most 46-year old males who “love food and booze and the Australian way of life”, coupled with a strong work ethic and financial commitments which leave little time for exercise, Hawke admitted he had probably been in denial about his health. No longer. Hawke’s BMI (basically a height-to-weight ratio) was 27, where the ideal range is between 15 and 25, his waistline was 100 cms where 102 cms is considered the beginnings of chronic obesity (get your tape measures out, people), his cholesterol level was 9.5 (a medically acceptable level is between 3.5 and 5.4) and triglycerides were a whopping 4.2 (01 to 0.2 is the medical standard). His father having had his first heart attack at 48, and dying of a massive one at 60, Hawke knew his wife was right when she described him as a ‘ticking time bomb”. Thing is, Hawke’s life insurer would have long recognised it too.
Second only to a GP, insurers tend have the most information about their policyholders’ health, but until now have done nothing proactive with the data, Hawke says. “We know that around 70 per cent of our 200,000 policyholders present with at least one chronic but preventable condition,” Hawke says. “Yet traditionally all the insurer has done is assess the risk, take the premiums and wait for the claim.” Asteron Life has partnered with an Australian online wellness program (check it out at www.asteron.com. au/asteron-life) which offers tailored nutrition, exercise and lifestyle plans. If a policyholder who currently pays a premium loading successfully adopts the program, and can demonstrate, for example, a lower BMI after an annual check-up with their doctor, Asteron will reward them with a cut in their loading. Future phases of Asteron Life will allow policyholders not paying a loading to reduce their premiums, too. “What we’ve learnt from putting this program together is that most relatively healthy people don’t realise how much healthier they could actually be,” Hawke says. There are certainly commercial reasons why Asteron would want its policyholders to live longer, but there’s no denying the benefits to clients of being incented to lead a healthier lifestyle. It’s an idea super funds should probably look at for their own insurance programs.
Merger watch Watch out over coming months for a merger of two sizeable industry funds, who put together would create an eight billion dollar baby (approximately). With roots in three different cities, the synergies between these mergermaybes are not immediately apparent, until you think about vertical integration of the value-chain behind a certain Australian export.
Kicking Asness: hedgie guru lets Obama have it If AQR founder Cliff Asness hadn’t grown up to become a hedge fund billionaire, he might have got a gig writing David Letterman’s “Top 10”. The Asness way with words went viral in May, when he penned his famous “I’m ready for my personalised tax rate ” rant against Barack Obama’s railroading of Chrysler and GM bondholders, as the firms’ bankruptcy proceedings got politically perverted. The most powerful man in the world has since become the leading short position in Cliff ’s verbal portfolio, of which a particularly witty example is his “10 quick thoughts” on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, posted the morning after the award’s announcement on his “Stumbling On Truth” blog. In typical 130:30 fashion, Asness actually wrote about 15 thoughts, but for those who haven’t seen them, here are our favourites (with apologies to anyone politically to the left of Genghis Khan). 1. Did he get the award for the hope, the change, or both? 2. His nomination was after 10 DAYS in office. Does that need further elaboration? 3. Why didn’t they just cut out the middle-man and award a Nobel “War- Mongering” prize to George W., as that is their real point? 4. This award was given by Leftists for apologetic groveling to a world who, if they do hate America, hate us for our virtues not our sins. 5. This just in: Obama awarded Pulitzer Prize for signing Malia’s last field trip permission slip. 6. We are living increasingly in a staged totalitarian global regime putting on Kabuki theater. This should scare everyone, but the most ashamed should be the so called civil-libertarians on the Left who are both facilitating it, and claiming to stand for the opposite. 7. I just got word that Neville Chamberlain is suing. They don’t award the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously, but you’d think they’d make an exception here no? Word is his estate will be appeased easily. 8. Instead of thinking of this as a new award, can we just think of it as Jimmy Carter winning twice? 9. This will go down as the apex of the unearned self-esteem movement that is harming children everywhere. 10. Chrysler senior debt holders are just relieved he didn’t win the Nobel in economics.
Lurk intransition One gets used to competitors saying all sorts of lovely things about each other, and the transition management business is more competitive than most. Still, we were tickled by an observation made recently about David Goodman, the former head of State Street Global Markets in Australia, who, after a GFCshortened stint in Europe, is back in Sydney at Macquarie Equities, setting up a hush-hush global TM business aimed at super funds. Spying him at the recent Australian Super Investors Conference on the Gold Coast, a prospective rival said he would describe his activity as “lurking rather than marketing”.