The four panel chairs of Biba’s upcoming annual conference in May discuss the most urgent challenges for the insurance industry, as well as explain what the trade body’s annual conference means to them

WE ASKED: ”What are the most pressing issues for the insurance sector post-pandemic that will be discussed at the Biba conference this year?”

Jason Groves, global director of media relations, Marsh and chair of the Dive In Festival

Jason Groves_Marsh

Jason Groves, Marsh 

”The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the need for organisations of all sizes to focus on building more inclusive and supportive workplaces.

”At the same time, it also showed the need bring our clients the innovative solutions they will need to recover, plan for the future and thrive.

”Firms that have prioritised increasing diversity will have found this much easier than those that haven’t. As endless reports have demonstrated, diverse workforces are more creative and more profitable. And inclusive workplaces have higher colleague satisfaction and attract better talent.

”Last year also showed that arguments against flexible working are, for the most part, at odds with experience and counterproductive.

”As an industry, we need to ensure that we learn these lessons. If we do, we will be able retain more talented people – especially women – who have left the sector rather than try to juggle home life with inflexible demands for office face time.

”Many firms magnificently stepped up their efforts to address the mental health issues confronting many people who found working from home difficult. This first step is to be commended but, as an industry, we still have a way to go.”

Ashwin Mistry_Brokerbility

Ashwin Mistry, Brokerbility 

Ashwin Mistry, executive chairman, Brokerbility

”Insurance is to protect the losses of the few, paid for by the many - but has the pace of consolidation resulted in the choice of the many being limited by the supply of a (big) few? This is one area I will be discussing at this year’s Biba conference.

”I’ll also be exploring the changing customer journey as well as the use of technology, data and solutions.

”From my perspective, Biba’s conferences have evolved positively over the past few years, from being seen as elitist to outright inclusive.

”Under the stewardship of Steve White and Graeme Trudgill, Biba clearly showcases its role as a catalyst with key stakeholders.

”Moving to Manchester has allowed the entire insurance industry to have the opportunity to meet without friction - the scale of venue and high quality event management, coupled with surrounding hospitality, is a major success.

”Biba’s conference allows anybody involved within the sector to participate, learn, educate, network, socialise and, most importantly, to feel proud of a sector we are all involved in.

”From the array of quality speakers to securing all major insurers, the conference allows brokers of all sizes to meet with senior leaders, which - under normal circumstances - would be almost impossible.

”The Biba conference is our flagship event and not one we should ever take for granted.”

Peter Blanc, group chief executive, Aston Lark 

PeterBlanc_Aston Lark

Peter Blanc, Aston Lark

”I’m really looking forward to chairing the session on the hard market in professional indemnity (PI).

”We’ve got a cracking panel lined up for what should be a fascinating discussion – is this just temporary pain as the market ‘resets’ and gets back to profitability, or is this indicative of a problem with PI specifically? What else can the market do to make this a more sustainable and valued class of business?

”Hopefully the panel will have some of the answers, but we’ll also be looking for feedback from the audience through the Q&A functionality.

”This is a really important class of business and particularly relevant to insurance brokers themselves who have recently been on the receiving end of some massive rating increases – I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say on the topic.

”Over the years, the Biba conference has become an increasingly important part of my calendar. Back in my early broking days, it was where I made new connections and met new scheme providers to help me to grow my business.

”As my career changed, it became the main event for meeting up with our insurer partners - and enjoying a bit of hospitality. Now, it’s become important for showcasing our wholesale schemes and facilities.

”I shall miss the social side this year - although a few of our insurer partners have kindly put on some virtual fun and games - but I hope the benefits for the business will be as good as ever: meeting new brokers that would like agencies with our schemes, meeting other schemes providers that will be helpful to Aston Lark, renewing and maintaining our friendships with our insurer partners and broker colleagues.

”Fingers crossed we’ll get the business upsides minus the infamous ’Biba Thursday hangover’.”

Vivienne Hexter_Aon

Vivienne Hexter, Aon 

Vivienne Hexter, head of technical, Commercial Risk Solutions, Aon

”I am delighted to be a part of the Biba conference 2021, presenting a seminar session on business interruption (BI) insurance.

”With the challenges of the past year still lingering, the seminar will consider the complexities of BI and contemplate its future. It seems guaranteed to make for a lively and fascinating discussion.

”The Biba conference is heralded by brokers and others from across our industry as the go-to insurance conference of the year, but for what reason?

”Yes, the event boasts the opportunity to mingle with the insurance industry bigwigs and network with scores of useful contacts whilst pocketing oodles of corporate clobber, but for me, the biggest draw each year is the potential to listen, learn and be inspired.

”Criss-crossing a wide range of diverse topics, Biba’s seminar and fringe sessions provide a thoroughly engaging journey, exploring the hot topics of the day and the latest innovations affecting us all in the insurance industry.

”Nowhere else can a broker find the mix of stimulating themes, relevant debate and motivational speakers in quite the same accessible way.”