’We look at the challenges, we find a path forward and we get that ultimate solution in place,’ says chief executive
January 2024 marked a milestone for Biba chief executive Graeme Trudgill, as he oversaw the launch of the association’s annual manifesto for the first time.
Trudgill took up the top role at Biba in July 2023 and, in the six months since, made working with brokers one of his priorities to help form this year’s document, which outlines the trade body’s agenda for the year ahead.
Entitled Managing risk for growth and economic security, the manifesto was launched at a reception in the Houses of Parliament on 11 January 2024 and highlighted the value that insurance brokers bring to the UK economy.
Given this was Trudgill’s first time in charge during manifesto season, he tells Insurance Times that he wanted it to be one of the biggest the association has ever put together.
Trudgill says he aimed for it to “reflect the points that members talk about every day” by having hundreds of brokers take part in Q&A sessions to deliver feedback during the formation stage.
“We had enormous engagement with brokers,” Trudgill adds.
“We did a regional tour and it was the biggest we have ever done. And over 700 brokers were all very co-operative and helpful, with them wanting to provide input and help.
“Lots of them were also keen to join relevant committees and advisory boards to feed points into the manifesto and if you click through it, you will see all sorts of different things in there that have come directly from brokers.”
Trudgill joined Biba in 2001 as the technical services manager and worked his way up to head of corporate affairs by 2010.
He says he decided to join the trade body after picking up experience working at several brokers, including Stennings Insurance Services and Layton Blackham Insurance Brokers.
While at these firms, Trudgill would keep in touch with Biba and decided to make the move when a technical role opened up.
“They wanted to create a new position in their technical team and they got in touch, so I was really interested,” he says.
“The role was helping members with all their technical queries they might have and also about running schemes and facilities.
“I ran lots of schemes [up to that point] and so I decided it was the right point in my life to go and work for the trade body.”
By 2013, Trudgill had been promoted to executive director, a role that saw him become responsible for the body’s policy positions as well as the public affairs and technical departments.
He held this position for 10 years, during which time he acted as the wingman to ex-Biba chief executive Steve White on key decisions made by the association.
“Biba has been the centre of the insurance broking universe,” Trudgill says.
“It has been really engaging and I have got to meet so many wonderful people, learnt many things and achieved so much as well.”
He highlights that one of these achievements was securing a signposting agreement between the government, Biba and the ABI to help older people find travel or car cover.
Since its launch in 2012, Biba has received more than 1m enquiries about car and travel insurance from older people.
“I am so proud we have achieved this – it is like the mother of signposting agreements,” Trudgill says.
“This is our job – we look at the challenges, we find a path forward and we get that ultimate solution in place.”
Given Trudgill’s achievements and experience, he was perfectly placed to succeed White as chief executive when the opportunity came about in May 2023.
And since his official confirmation as the top boss two months later, Trudgill has hit the ground running, having had plenty to get stuck into, including looking at the regulatory burden on brokers.
In the 2024 manifesto, one of the major sections was entitled ‘A flagship UK sector’, which contains Biba’s views on the current regulatory environment for the insurance broking industry.
In this section, the association cited research indicating that regulation for the broking sector had become a “disproportionate burden” and that current methods of regulatory reporting had a significant resource and cost impact.
In turn, Trudgill says that regulation is a key talking point for brokers and an area the association plans to invest more into.
On 31 July 2023, soon after Trudgill’s appointment as chief executive, Biba appointed David Sparkes as its director for regulation, highlighting its plans to “place regulation firmly at the top of our agenda”.
This appointment coincided with the launch of the FCA’s Consumer Duty regulation, which requires insurance firms to review their products and services against a new standard of fairness.
However, what brokers and insurers tell Insurance Times when asked about the regulatory regime is that they would like more help in navigating it.
And Trudgill says that more “proportionate” regulation could be achieved by revising the scope of Consumer Duty.
“It would show the FCA are meeting these new objectives about growth and competitiveness,” he explains.
On 29 June 2023, the Financial Services and Markets Act, which has been described as a “rocket boost for the UK economy”, was granted royal assent.
It introduces new secondary objectives for the FCA and PRA in a bid to facilitate the growth and international competitiveness of the UK economy.
“What I really wanted to do [after becoming chief executive] is engage positively and constructively with the regulator and I have done that already,” Trudgill says.
“I am very grateful that they have agreed to work closely with us and it is a really healthy approach.
“Ultimately it is our aim to get regulation that is more proportionate and appropriate for our members.
“The FCA are certainly doing a great job at listening and I would hope that good progress could be made on something like the Consumer Duty in the year ahead.”
There are two other major sections that make up the Biba manifesto, including one entitled ’A broking sector underpinning our economic security’.
This addresses issues such as the insurance protection gap, the risks of underinsurance and the benefit that brokers provide to society.
And in the other section, entitled ’Meeting the needs of the modern economy’, Biba addresses the issue of emerging risks – including multioccupancy buildings, modern methods of construction and cyber – and responding to current risks.
Trudgill says the manifesto “is my shopping list for the year of all the wonderful things we want to achieve”.
And to help achieve his goals, the top boss says that the trade body will continue investing in the operational side of things.
“[It is] about looking ahead a lot,” he says.
“So, we look at how we can get more talent into the industry, how members can take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) and not lose out in any way and how we can deal with the threats of the future, like the increased flooding.”
Trudgill also says that supporting members with the new fair value assessment framework “is very important”.
Launched on 18 October 2023, this new framework helps brokers implement or refine their own fair value models for customers and operating models.
It came after the FCA revealed in April 2023 that broker remuneration for insurance of multioccupancy residential buildings rose over a three-year period.
Following this, Michael Gove, minister for levelling up, housing and communities, said he was “outraged” by the findings in a letter sent to the regulator.
And on 29 September 2023, the FCA announced it would force insurance firms to act in leaseholders’ best interests from 1 January 2024.
Trudgill says that his goal has been to make sure brokers “had a way of more easily evidencing to the regulator what they did to demonstrate fair value”.
“We are rolling [our new framework] out with webinars and Q&A sessions to make sure brokers have every opportunity to understand what the regulator is looking for and how they can demonstrate fair value,” he says.
And summing up his time in charge so far, Trudgill says: “We have achieved so much in the last six months.
“It has been absolutely fantastic.”
His career began in 2019, when he joined a local north London newspaper after graduating from the University of Sheffield with a first-class honours degree in journalism.
Now working within the insurance sector, James has a particular focus on motor, M&A activity and financial reporting.View full Profile