Wednesday March 29, 2017
One of my many responsibilities as Group Commercial Director is to represent Markerstudy at various industry functions and events. And, contrary to popular belief, these aren't all held at football grounds and on fairways!
In the past few weeks I've attended the two principal conference and networking events for our fellow insurers and brokers; the Insurance Age UK Broker Summit and the Insurance Times Broker50.
The UK Broker Summit was held over two days at the Pennyhill Park Hotel near Ascot.
Day 1 consisted of two presentations from non-insurance people; the first being an economist who spoke at length about the current turmoil in the political world and what we might expect to happen. Some interesting stuff, but frankly she seemed to have as much idea as anyone else you might meet in the pub! Following that we had a couple of hours on Blockchain technology and the advancement of BitCoin. I suggest you look this up online as I'm still not in a position to answer questions on either!
Delegates were then invited to select three sessions hosted by conference partners for the afternoon. In the evening there was a dinner and entertainment in the form of ex-footballer Ray Stubbs who amused us by discussing various encounters he’d had in the sporting world over the past 20 years of working for the BBC.
Day 2 was opened by the editor of Post Mag, Emmanuel Kenning, and the inimitable Jonathan Swift – Incisive Media’s content director - holding an open forum on the state of the market. It gave us delegates the opportunity to voice opinion on everything from Compliance to the recent well-publicised Ogden reforms. Closing the day was a presentation by Caspar Berry, professional gambler turned motivational speaker, on the benefits of fully assessing risk.
The Broker50 is a more targeted event; only open to senior representatives from the biggest brokers. It was held at the Chewton Glen Hotel in the New Forest, so not too far for me to travel (although others had various tales of woe getting there).
The approach at this event was fully interactive, with panel discussions and delegates invited to ask questions throughout. The topics were focused around Compliance and the introduction of the certificate of competency for senior staff. The anticipated extra work for what appears little benefit caused spirited debate, and recognition that ‘we’ must be more involved in the structure of what's required.
The second session was another in-depth look at the market and where Personal Lines and Commercial brokers were likely to find themselves in three to five years. This also produced a fair amount of heated discussion, with the overall consensus being there would be a lot more merging and acquiring in the broker sector and getting super-sized seemed to be the best option for development and survival.
Hot air aside, the broking sector is certainly under more pressure than I can recall in my 39 years in Insurance and a further constriction of the market seems inevitable as we strive for ways to deal with the newer challenges presenting themselves.
This event also includes after dinner entertainment - delivered to us by Alexis Conran who appeared in the TV show The Real Hustle; with fraud as the focal point, he performed scams to highlight how gullible people can be in certain situations. This was the undoubted highlight of the event!
What did I like?
All in all, they were two decent events, bringing together brokers from across the spectrum of Commercial and Personal Lines and allowing plenty of opportunity for networking and generally debating what's what and who's who.
What could be better?
Holding these events within five days reduces the overall effectiveness, in my opinion, so the two publications really need to talk to each other and come up with a different approach on dates - as I'm sure both were affected adversely by attendee numbers.
No brown envelopes were exchanged on the writing of this report!