The benefits of the industry’s trade bodies are all too great to take for granted, says Stuart Reid

By Stuart Reid

Whilst I will not be setting out an exhaustive list here, let me start by stating that I have never made a secret of my support for our industry’s trade bodies.

Stuart Reid

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In Biba’s case, I have seen them up close and personal being involved at various board levels – and, more recently, I have become ever closer to the Managing General Agents’ Association as a board member of three companies that are members.

That said, our landscape is shifting with greater regulation manifesting itself in different ways, greater challenges coming directly from government and an industry that, with a few notable exceptions, is becoming a competition between the large and the small.

So, where do these and other organisations in our industry fit?

Trade Body membership is found across the full spectrum of brokers and MGAs. This may confuse, as surely the greater benefit of a trade body is to the smaller business that does not have the luxury of separate departments – risk, compliance and treasury – that a larger concern would take for granted.

But firms of all sizes see that the access and influence these bodies have to the regulator, to government and to those that have influence on how our industry runs – as well as the significant costs associated – as invaluable.

Having the chance to be aware early and, where possible, shape debate around the topics of the day – such as the cost of IPT or the recent property debacle – is priceless.

I genuinely dread to think where we might be without them.

Government support

I recently attended the launch of the 2024 Biba manifesto – entitled Managing risk for growth and economic security – at the Houses of Parliament on 10 January 2024.

I have done so many times before, but this was different as it was the first with new Biba chief executive Graham Trudgill.

His forensic knowledge of the issues we face and the ambitious agenda set out is  testament to how well he has grasped the new role in the short six months in position.

What was even more fascinating was the strong, vocal support he got from government, who went out of their way to praise the strength and involvement of Biba over the past year.

With the next election expected to be held in the second half of 2024, things will change significantly – but I have no doubt Biba will be one of the first banging on the door.

I come next to the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), which again I have been involved with at many levels.

The Royal Charter requires the CII to secure and justify the confidence of the public. Sadly however, it has seen a lack of confidence from its own members and a revolving door of those in charge that has left the organisation weakened and a massive challenge for the recently announced new head.

It needs our support to promote the competence, integrity and care for the customer that we all espouse. It has much to do.

Regulatory environment

I couldn’t list out those valuable organisations in our industry without reference to the FCA, which is – without doubt – the most defining of all.

So much has been written and so much is ongoing that I do not have the time here to do justice to the value of the FCA – only to say that there is value to what it is doing.

Our industry is better for regulation, but we all know that few industries are as highly regulated. With so much coming our way in such short order and with such a wide remit and cost, it is now surely time for us to be allowed to get used to those changes, for the regulatory demands to become adopted and business to go on as usual.

If the majority – the great majority – of our industry are smaller brokers, then it is absolutely imperative that the organisations I have had time to mention here are supported and are strong.

Gone are the days that most brokers will have any regular direct interaction with our regulator – and, frankly, many never did.

It is therefore imperative that we look to those that represent us to do so on our behalf and we give the support to the professional qualifications and training that underpin all that we do.

It may seem obvious, but I think it bears repeating.