Time is money as they say, so here's where you should spend your time at this year's conference

Every broker marks the annual Biba conference in their calendar as the most important networking event of the year. But in between contact-building and deal-making, the conference offers some unmissable sessions and seminars that you should definitely make room for in the diary. Here, we sort out the best and the rest and outline the highlights of this year’s conference – along with the big questions that someone needs to ask (if you dare)

1. Aon chief executive Greg Case

Wednesday 11 May 10.00-11.15

Who? Greg Case is president and chief executive of the UK’s largest broker, Aon.

Why go? Case stands at the helm of Aon after a particularly tumultuous time in the broking giant’s history. The FSA fined the broker £5.25m in January 2009 after “suspicious payments” of about $7m (£4.6m) were paid to both businesses and individuals in six countries including Bangladesh, Burma and Vietnam. Last year, Aon landed in hot water with clients including Deutsche Bank for selling information to insurers via its new Global Risk Insight Platform (GRIP). Case has also defended Aon’s controversial decision to resume taking contingent commissions.

What you should ask: “Do contingent commissions cause conflicts of interest?”

Most likely to say: “The constant mantra for Aon colleagues is: ‘How can I help a client or help a colleague help a client?’.”

Least likely to say: “We’re with Willis when it comes to commissions.”

2. Fraud – why it’s a broker issue

Wednesday 11 May 16.10–17.00

Who? Glen Marr is director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau.

Why go? Glen Marr will describe how the IFB operates and how brokers can help to reduce insurance fraud, which according to the ABI fraud costs the sector an estimated £1.9bn in undetected fraud every year.

What you should ask: “Why is the industry record on sharing fraud data so poor?”

Most likely to say: “We need to work together to catch fraudsters.”

Least likely to say: “Insurance fraud is a victimless crime.”

3. The regulatory forum

Thursday 12 May 09.30–10.30

Chaired by: Andrew Neil

Who’s on the forum? Andy Homer, group chief executive, Towergate Partnership; Stuart Reid, chief executive, Bluefin; Brendan McManus, chief executive, Willis UK and Ireland; Steve White, head of compliance and training, Biba.

Why go? Next year, the unloved FSA will be replaced by the Consumer Protection and Markets Authority and the Prudential Regulatory Authority. Biba has published a report on what brokers can expect from the new regime. The panel will discuss Biba’s report and their own views on how the new regulatory authorities should treat insurance brokers.

What you should ask: “How can the sector lobby effectively to ensure fair fees for brokers under the new regime?”

Panel’s opinion most likely to be: “Brokers should not be lumped in with the banks.”

Least likely to be: “Bring back the FSA.”

4. Marketing your business: What do digital marketing and social media mean for the insurance community?

Thursday 12 May 10.30-11.20

Who? Leighann Burtrand, head of communications, Biba; Neil Grimshaw, broker, Ravenhall Risk Solutions; Tim Mears, social media executive, Pancentric Digital; Jimmi Prebble, head of digital strategy, Pancentric Digital.

Why go? The panellists will discuss the importance of social media and online marketing activity as part of the insurance community’s sales toolkit. Topics include the emergence of YouTube as a support tool for search marketing activity, the growth of social media in the insurance sector, integrating digital marketing with traditional advertising, and how online marketing can be used to understand more about target consumers.

What you should ask: “What are the biggest pitfalls of social media?”

Most likely to say: “Brokers need to tap into the potential business opportunities offered by social media.”

Least likely to say: “Only small birds can tweet.”

5. Lord Alan Sugar, interviewed by Andrew Neil

Thursday 12 May 12.10–13.00

Who? Lord Sugar is Britain’s most famous entrepreneur, thanks to his central role on hit reality TV show The Apprentice.

Why go? Born in a council estate in the East End of London, Sugar now has an estimated fortune of £730m and was ranked 84th in the Sunday Times Rich List 2010. In 2007, he sold his company Amstrad to BSkyB for about £125m. Thanks to The Apprentice, he is now best known for his gruff exterior and for humiliating candidates. Critics have called Sugar out of touch for his stern management style and his views on hiring women who might have children (he doesn’t). In 2005, he made one of the least savvy technology predictions ever when he said the iPod would be “dead, finished, gone, kaput” by the following Christmas.

What you should ask: “So, what do you think about the iPod2?”

Most likely to say: “Young people are interested to see how I came from nowhere and ended up a millionaire – there is no reason why they can’t do the same.”

Least likely to say: “Let’s have a group hug.”

And the rest ...

Wednesday 11 May, 14.10–15.00

Ed Stafford, explorer, writer and adventurer

Ed Stafford talks about becoming the first man in history to walk the entire length of the Amazon River last year.

Wednesday 11 May, 16.10–17.00

New risks, new opportunities

Graeme Newman, business development director of CFC Underwriting, shows how the technology landscape presents new risk exposures for traditional and virtual businesses.

The Trunki story – how to beat the Dragons

Once rejected by the entrepreneurs of Dragon’s Den, Rob Law is the brain behind Trunki, a ride-on suitcase for globetrotting toddlers that is now sold in 50 counties. Law appointed Brownhills Insurance Agents to help him find the right insurer after he found it difficult to get cover to expand into the US market.

Thursday 12 May, 10.30–11.20

The law of agency/duty of disclosure

Flaxman Partners managing director Roger Flaxman; Tom McGrath CBE; and Beachcroft partner Emma Bates discuss new rules around disclosure sparked by the case of Nicholas G Jones v Environcom Ltd and Miles Smith Insurance Brokers.

Presentation skills workshop

Professional speaker Graham Davies tells brokers how to make effective presentations and hone their public speaking skills.

The small business workshop

Beachcroft partner Matthew Ratter; Richard Ansell of the Information Commissioner’s Office; Peninsula Business Services solicitor Mark Owen and risk services director Neil Hodgson. The experts offer advice on how brokers can help SMEs keep up to date with legislative and regulatory requirements.

Fringe session 1

Wednesday 11 May, 11:45–12:30

Session A: Accessing the Lloyd’s market

This will include presentations from market practitioners explaining how a regional broker can make a successful transition to the London market. Attendees will receive a ‘roadmap’ to assist them in their dealings with Lloyd’s.

Session B: Guernsey

The session promises to cut through business jargon and provided the basic essentials all brokers should know about captives.

Session C: A cunning scheme for profit (sponsored by UK Insurance General)

An overview of the schemes marketplace.

Fringe session 2

Wednesday 11 May, 13:00–13:45

Session D: Andy Tenant (sponsored by Davies Group):

Renowned UK cyclist Andy Tenant talks about what it takes to become a world-class athlete.

Session E: Biba brokerASSESS

An overview of Biba’s online learning and assessment tool, BrokerASSESS.

Fringe session 3

Thursday 12 May, 13:45–14:30

Session G: Biba BrokerASSESS (see above)

Session H: Guava

Guava insurance specialist Nigel Townend explains the business benefits of search engine marketing

Session J: The challenges and opportunities for financial protection in the UK

This explores the current situation of the financial protection industry in the UK.

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