Institute calls for evidence in ongoing push for CII strategy audit


The council for the Insurance Institute of Shropshire and Mid-Wales has reiterated its call for the Chartered Insurance Institute to pause its strategic manifesto and commission an independent audit ahead of engaging with members on the best way forward.

The IISMW council wrote again to the CII’s independent chair Helen Phillips on 1 June to flag that there were many members who worked voluntarily towards improving the profession.

“However, it is difficult to support an executive that appears to be so out of kilter with the membership and appear to be so inept,” they stated.

“Our fear is that you continue to allow the CII to continue to decline and also trigger the decline of the PFS [Personal Finance Society]. We would, however, be willing to work with you to identify the facts, accepting that members might well be missing the ‘good progress’ you refer to.”

Adding: “We have called for an independent review to help set the record straight and allow us all to move forward, we just do not want the same leadership in control unless the outcome of a review proves otherwise.”

The council first wrote to Phillips on 14 May warning the executive was out of touch with members and lacking in vision and leadership. Phillips responded on 26 May.

In the latest letter from the council, seen by Post, it reported being “extremely disappointed” with Phillips’ response.

“The CII has become less relevant, less diverse and inclusive, less engaged and has placed the Institute in a worse state (having also lost its heritage building along the way) than it was in prior to the launch of the manifesto in 2016,” the council wrote as it urged immediate action.

The council detailed that it failed to understand how the independent chair could not see there had been a “complete failure on the part of the executive”.

“If you truly believe the manifesto implementation has been a success, where is the evidence?” it questioned.


In particular it queried progress on key performance indicators since 2016 and if predictions had been met. The IISMW also asked how many general insurance members the CII has now compared with 2016 and for details against what was promised along with how employee and member satisfaction compares across the two dates.

In a series of questions the council called for answers as to why members were not consulted over the sale of Aldermanbury as it criticised moving to become a sub-tenant at the Walkie-Talkie. It suggested that the reasons for the sale had changed over time having originally been ‘modernisation’ and ‘IT infrastructure’.

“If, as you suggest, the high cost of maintenance and meeting the pension scheme deficit were important reasons for the sale of Aldermanbury, where is the evidence?” the response to Phillips’ letter asked.

It also asked to “see the evidence that shows the chronology and, in particular, the date the pension trustees raise concerns over the deficit vis-á-vis the sale of Aldermanbury?”

According to the council, none of the members could recall maintenance of Aldermanbury being an issue that had been raised prior to the 2016 manifesto. “What was the date that the issue of high maintenance costs was first raised?” it queried.

The nine authors of the document shared the opinion that there would have been some degree of acceptance of the sale of Aldermanbury without consultation if it had resulted in the CII’s five-year manifesto being “a raging success”. It listed factors for this as “growing GI member numbers – not just growth in PFS members – higher revenues, a stronger balance sheet, a more inclusive and diverse institute, meaningful engagement with the membership and still standing proud as a valuable professional institute”.

But it said members had witnessed the reverse and there was increased desire to demand transparency and accountability from the board and the executive.

The letter also returned to what it termed the “exams fiasco”. In her response to the original concerns Phillips had acknowledged that too many students experienced problems.

“We are very sorry Helen, but the exams fiasco is a serious deterioration in customer service; the whole experience for students and members has been a disgrace; the one area CII should at least be good at,” the council updated.

“You would almost certainly be shocked if you took a proper independent review in to this alone.”


In the original letter the council had also raised concerns about plans to de-register the Personal Finance Society and changes in leadership.

After Phillips’ reply the IISMW suggested there continues to a lack of understanding.

“Our PFS members remain deeply concerned with your approach in terms of the continuing evolution of the profession of financial planning and advice,” they wrote.

“Whilst GI members may be interested in the revenue and growth of total membership that the PFS represents, outside of that, they all recognise that the PFS needs to remain as an independent professional body. The view is that the CII should focus on the insurance profession and the PFS should focus on the financial planning and advice profession; but be prepared to collaborate and share best practice where appropriate.”

After the first exchange of letters Phillips had committed that David Ross, VP for the local institutes at the CII would be in touch to arrange a meeting.

Post understands that Ross is attending today’s IISMW council meeting.

Council member Robin Melley told Post that the council was also “very willing to meet with the [CII] board”.

“This thing isn’t going to stop until it is resolved,” he said.

A spokesperson for the CII stated that the meeting between Ross and the IISMW board was being organised “to further explore their concerns at this time, at which any specific questions will be addressed in a collaborative and collective way”. They also indicated that if the outcome involved moving on to a meeting with the CII board there would be appetite for this.

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