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Advertising feature: The key to effective influencing

Steve White
Steve White, CEO, British Insurance Brokers’ Association

One of the joys of working for a trade body is being able to influence decision makers and to make a difference to the members you represent and their customers.

As many who are reading this will know, there are no quick wins! This is not a life of spin-doctoring, and fine-dining sweeteners, it’s playing the long-game, building relationships, building trust and building understanding.

You might be planning to tune into the keynote sessions at this year’s British Insurance Brokers’ Association conference and remember the warm words the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen – one of our leading speakers used to describe insurance brokers in our manifesto. These words were not written for him, they came from a genuine understanding and appreciation of our sector.  An understanding built up in his Treasury team over many years of working with them.

Our teams set out to be approachable and knowledgeable, and it works. More and more there is no need to beg for a meeting – those ministerial teams and policymakers from the likes of the Department of Transport, Ministry of Communities & Local Government and the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy approach us to learn and to find solutions. We hope this is testimony to the quality of our arguments and the professional way we conduct ourselves.

This work is key to serving the needs of the sector and would not be possible without a high level of collaboration. To really delve deep into issues, get to the nub of them and consider what solutions might be possible we have to work hard at it. As an organisation we aren’t too proud to admit that we don’t know every detail but we do know the men and women that do!  A former boss once told me that knowing where to find information was a critical art of good management and it works equally well in campaigning.

The BIBA advisory boards and committees are made up of brokers meaning that we can get right to the heart of the matters affecting brokers and their work acting as their customers’ agent.

Decision makers in government and within the regulatory bodies appreciate it when petitioners – if you like – really have a full understanding of the issues and even better if they are approached with a solution rather than a problem. This is where insight from the coalface is invaluable.

Getting the facts right, coming up with examples that are real experiences of our members’ customers really brings the issues to life. This is an inclusive approach. The firms we represent know that we are representing them accurately; they are involved, and part of the proposal – indeed are often the authors of solutions and they become engaged with any resultant change. Those that we are petitioning know we have researched and investigated the facts. They can be confident in what we are telling them, and they can relate to the impacts of the problems and the effects of our suggestions.

It is often said that lobbying is a long-term task and indeed it is. It’s not good enough to simply seek headlines – that does not gain trust – rather the opposite. Issues are often complex and getting a solution is much more important than tomorrow’s chip paper!

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