A new government may be at the helm, but other changes are at the top of most delegates’ lists for next week’s Biba conference

Change is definitely in the air following last week’s general election. But political transformation is not the only – and not necessarily the most important – change being faced by brokers.

The folk at Biba have picked up on the uncertain zeitgeist with the title of this year’s conference ‘Professionalism in a Changing World’, which takes place in London’s Docklands – an area that was a grim, post-industrial wasteland not all that long ago.

For brokers, the changes resulting from technological innovation pose some of the greatest challenges. Broker Network’s recent decision to establish a string of physical trading floors illustrates how many brokers, raised in the pre-internet age, have not kept up with insurers’ greater reliance on technology.

The advent of direct distribution in the late ’80s and more recently the price comparison websites have transformed the world of personal lines over the past two decades, with motor broking turning into a minority pursuit. The inevitable fear for the sector is that commercial lines will follow suit.

Meanwhile, the sums that insurers are spending on advertising and sponsorship demonstrate a determination to raise the profile of their brands. The more that these companies become household names, the easier they will find it to sell direct to customers from their own platforms.

However, while it is often viewed as a threat, technology also offers brokers opportunities. By lowering the barriers to entry, some say that technology will enable firms to drill down into ever more specialised areas of expertise.

And social media outlets, like Twitter, offer scope for intermediaries to develop over a wider geographical area the kind of personal relationships that community brokers have forged for generations.

Meanwhile, at insurancetimes.co.uk we will be breaking new ground at this year’s Biba conference by sending out delegate interviews and opinion, our own round-up of events, and details of our competitions, straight to your mobile device. Whether on the move via your mobile or laptop, or if you are stuck in the office, we will keep you up-to-date with all the news from the industry’s biggest annual get-together.

The forecast for the future may be uncertain, but for one sure thing: the burying the head in the sand approach is not an option. See you next week. IT

Download the 2010 Biba supplement in pdf, right.