Judgement day.

It was a long and painstaking process sifting through the submissions for this year's British Insurance Awards, which witnessed a record number of entries. David Worsfold takes a behind-the-scenes look at the judging process.

With more entries than ever before, the judges certainly had their
work cut out this year. Not only were the numbers up in virtually every
category, the quality was up too, making the task of sorting out finalists
very difficult. This is reflected in the varying numbers on the shortlists
in the different categories.


The complete judging process takes several weeks and started almost
immediately the last entry arrived at Post Magazine's Covent Garden
offices in mid-April. Entries are first checked for eligibility - yes,
some people enter in categories for which they are not eligible! Then a
preliminary assessment is made of the overall standards being set in each
category: this is done by a team of senior editors, led by David Worsfold,
Editor-in-Chief. By this stage, a clearer picture begins to emerge with it
often becoming obvious that some entries are definitely of a higher
standard than others, or address the category criteria more directly.


POINTS OF ENTRY


At this stage, the wider panel of judges comes into the picture. They are
sent all the 1000 word entry statements from those submissions that
haven't been rejected at the earlier stages, together with a complete list
of all the entries so they can request details of anything they haven't
been despatched.


The judges do enquire why some entries have been omitted from these very
long provisional shortlists but, in five years, they have never been moved
to disagree with the initial decision. Unfortunately, it is sometimes the
case that people with a potentially good story to tell just do not get it
across in their entry.


The judges then come together for a full and very intense day of
discussions when they are able to share their thoughts with other judges
and review the wealth of background material sent in with entries.


This took place at the London Underwriting Centre in the seventh floor
hospitality suite. With a table in the centre and dozens of boxes
containing all the supporting evidence from hundreds of entries piled high
around the sides of the room the judges almost looked under siege!


The skilful and adept chairmanship of John Greenway ensures that the day
goes smoothly and that each category gets an adequate airing. In the
middle of the morning, the judges were joined by Ralph Peters of Peters
Management Consultancy, who presented the results of the quantitative
analysis of the Life Assurance Salesforce category and who led a lively
and informative discussion on how the criteria for this category might be
developed in the years ahead.


In addition to the general discussion on each category, the judges record
their marks for every entry, attaching comments where appropriate. With
some categories there are clear conclusions on shortlists and winners,
with others the decisions are much more difficult and the judges' marks
are used to produce final placing. In some cases, the judges were asked to
review a more limited selection of entries in a category to help reach a
decision and all the results were reviewed by the chairman of the judging
panel.


KEEPING IT UNDER WRAPS


These results are then kept under wraps until the presentation dinner,
with only those who need to know in order to make sure everything is ready
for the big night - trophies, certificates, scripts, audio-visual
presentations and so on - let in on the secret.


With the number of entries to the British Insurance Awards still climbing,
thought has already been given to how to meet the challenge of judging
ever more submissions of such a high standard.


This year's judging panel has already offered its views and for 2000 it is
likely that the number and range of judges will be significantly expanded
with people being asked to concentrate more on those categories that fall
within their experience and expertise.


As soon as we all return from our summer holidays, the process of revising
the categories, the entry criteria and recruiting the judging panel for
the first British Insurance Awards of the new millennium will begin in
earnest.


JUDGES GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL ...


Profiles of the members of the panel for the British Insurance Awards.


Chairman: John Greenway MP, Chairman, All Party Parliamentary Group on
Insurance and Financial Services.


John Greenway chaired the panel of judges for the second year, bringing a
wide knowledge and practical experience of the insurance industry to the
panel's deliberations. He is Conservative MP for Ryedale in Yorkshire, and
is currently an opposition home affairs spokesman. He is a registered
insurance broker and a director of Smart and Cook. As well as his role in
the All Party Group, he is Treasurer of the Insurance Brokers Registration
Council, and President of the Institute of Insurance Brokers.


Tony Baker, Deputy Director General, Association of British Insurers.


Tony Baker combines his role as number two at the ABI with being the
association's Head of Public Affairs, and the Chief Executive of the Arson
Prevention Bureau. He has worked in the insurance industry since
graduating from the London School of Economics in 1970, most of that time
with the ABI and its predecessor. With a broad view of the company
market's activities and, in particular, its battle against fraud, he was
well placed to enlighten the discussions in the panel with a ready
understanding of the market.


Prof David Bland OBE PhD FCII, Director General, Chartered Insurance
Institute.


David Bland has been in charge of the industry's principal professional
body, the Chartered Insurance Institute, since the early 1990s, and has
been responsible for a complete overhaul of its examinations structure. He
was awarded the OBE in 1998 for services to training in the insurance
industry. The thoughtful and analytical approach Prof Bland adopted,
helped shape the judges' views on many categories, especially where
educational and training issues were at the fore.


Graham Cave, Executive Director, Chartered Institute of Loss
Adjusters.


Graham Cave took over the top executive position at the Chartered
Institute of Loss Adjusters at the end of last year, having previously
provided marketing support to the institute. For many years, he ran his
own marketing consultancy and brought his understanding of modern
marketing techniques to bear in the judging process.


Philip Marcell, Past Chairman, London International Insurance and
Reinsurance Association.


With experience of running a London market company and chairing a major
trade association, Philip Marcell brought a critical eye to the analysis
of the awards entries. Having been responsible for bottom line performance
himself, he expected it to merit keen attention from those who wanted to
win a British Insurance Award.


Robert Reid, Chairman, Society of Financial Advisers.


Rapid expansion of the number of entries from the life sector meant that
Robert Reid, who is into his second year as President of the Society of
Financial Advisers, was exceptionally busy deploying his knowledge of the
life and financial services side of the business.


Terry Sparkes FCII FIRM, Past President of the Institute of Risk
Management.


Terry Sparkes is one of the best known figures in the world of risk
management, having worked as a risk manager for Metal Box, helped set up
Cigna's risk management service and served as president of the Institute
of Risk Management. Having experienced the client/insurer relationship
from both sides of the fence, Mr Sparkes imposed high standards in judging
the claims of entrants to be offering innovative solutions and serving
customer needs.


David Worsfold, Editor-in-Chief, Post Magazine.


There has hardly been an aspect of the insurance industry that David
Worsfold hasn't written about in his 17 years' coverage, 13 of those with
Post Magazine. One of the team of people at Post Magazine behind the
creation of the British Insurance Awards, he knows just how important it
is that the winners in each category live up to the billing of the awards
as a "showcase for excellence".


Also attending Ralph Peters, Managing Director, PMC Management
Consultancy.


Ralph Peters carries out the quantitative assessment of the entries for
the Life Assurance Salesforce of the Year, and this year joined the
judging panel to present the results of that analysis.
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