British Insurance Brokers' Association
conference in Manchester
that it will be merging
with the Institute of Insurance Brokers
brings to an end almost 25 years of division in the representation of insurance brokers.
Relationships between the two bodies have ebbed and flowed - to put it mildly - since the late Andrew Paddick launched the IIB off the back of his successful campaign to get the Insurance Brokers Registration Council recognised as a professional body under the old regulatory regime. Much water has flowed under the proverbial bridge since then but recent years have seen the two organisations making common cause on issues that affect insurance brokers, a trend that was always likely to get even more pronounced as the battles over the costs of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the new regulatory regime reached their peaks.
There have been other times when the need for unity has been pressing and the moment hasn't been seized but the pressures on the broking sector now are probably more intensive than at anytime since the initial split in 1987.
There will be some tough negotiations ahead if there is to be a new broker trade association in place by the beginning of 2012 but the weight of the external issues should help concentrate minds and put those inevitable internal battles into a sensible context. There will also be some tussles over individual roles and these, too, must be put to one side for the sake of the bigger prize, although it is interesting to see my old friend John Greenway being mentioned as a possible chief excutive of the new organisation. With his background as a former MP and long-time chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Insurance & Financial Services he certainly has the right experience to ensure the new trade body hits the ground running on the lobbying front.
That said, both BIBA and the IIB have proved no slouches when it comes to lobbying over the last couple of years. The hope has to be that the merger creates something that is more powerful and effective than the two were separately.