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Adapt homepage: All intermediaries need to act


From March 10, 2021, the “Regulation 2019/2088 on sustainability-related disclosure requirements in the financial services sector” (TVO) must be applied. Insurance magazine spoke to lawyer Andre Kempf, head of division and in-house lawyer at Allianz Lebensversicherung AG, about the consequences for intermediaries.

Mr. Kempf, the TVO must be applied in a few weeks. What is the need for action for insurance brokers and multiple agents?
Andre Kempf: Sustainability in the sense of the ESG criteria is of course an important issue that should not be seen only as a constraint. Insurance brokers should therefore now deal with the matter at the latest. It plays a role in particular when advising on life / pension insurance or company pension schemes. In any case, the agent must make a change to his homepage on the Internet from March 10, 2021 if he advises on the above products.

Does that also apply to exclusive representatives?
The regulations apply to all agents, brokers and insurance advisors. Tied representatives are provided with information from “their” insurers and receive specifications or have a pre-formatted homepage. It will then be a little easier for you in this regard.

The TVO provides an exception for agencies with fewer than three employees. What do you mean with that?
The regulations do not apply to the broker if he has a maximum of three employees. In my opinion, this also includes part-time employees or freelance (self-employed) employees. Regardless of the question of whether the German legislator will possibly still “cash in” this exception in 2022, every broker is recommended to set up according to the specifications – I see real demand from customers here. To argue here that “does not apply to me, I am a small business” does not suit the mediator well.

Is the TVO relevant for all insurance lines?
The regulations of the TVO apply to so-called insurance investment products within the meaning of the IDD and to company pension schemes, as this has not been excluded. They also apply to Riester and basic pension products. There have already been specific inquiries from companies within the company pension scheme, as they have committed themselves to ensure that all suppliers are geared towards sustainability.

It is also important, however, that the broker in particular should not restrict his choice of providers – ultimately he must offer insurance solutions from across the board.

What could a sustainability strategy look like and how should it be described on the homepage?
The mediator must first consider how he will deal with the issue. The strategy must therefore fit the business model or be developed from it. He currently has to make statements about consideration. He can also state that he has not taken various aspects into account and justify this.

It is important to note that the information must appear on the agent’s homepage. The imprint is ideal for this. The intermediary’s information does not have to be handed over to the customer. However, this may change in the future – this is currently the case. This also means that an agent who does not have a homepage currently has no obligations. What has been said about small businesses applies here.

Is there any further information that has to be given on the homepage?
The intermediary must also state whether he or she aligns the remuneration of his employees with sustainability aspects. This would be the case if he pays different remuneration to an employee for brokering different products.

What about pre-contractual information?
The pre-contractual information on the products comes from the insurer. These are then included in the insurer’s package. By handing over this information, the intermediary fulfills his duty if he has shown that the information provided by the insurer is used when considering sustainability aspects.

If sustainability is extremely important to the customer in the consultation, this should also be included in the consultation documentation. However, the mediator does not have to raise the issue on his own initiative.

What should intermediaries be aware of when it comes to marketing communications?
It is important here: the marketing measures – i.e. the advertising – should correspond to what the intermediary is doing. To advertise the fact that when advising, particular attention is given to the sustainability risks of insurance investment products, and then not to do so, is forbidden for reasons of competition law – but that is actually a matter of course.

Finally, what can you recommend to the independent intermediaries?
As already mentioned at the beginning, the mediators should now deal with the topic at the latest. What is included on the homepage should correspond to the broker’s strategy.

The theme will grow in 2021 and beyond. Therefore the mediator is well advised to deal with the issue. It is also important to me that there will certainly be more details on one point or another. That is why the information is not chiseled in stone, but published on the more flexible homepage.

Thank you for the interview!

Note: The Federal Association of German Insurance Merchants (BVK) has published a “Checklist: How I prepare myself as an agent for the Transparency Ordinance (TVO)” (TVO checklist). This shows intermediaries the need for action and contains sample formulations, among other things, on the sustainability strategy.

Author (s): Matthias Beenken

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