The British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba) and the Association of Intermediaries and Insurance Brokers (AIIB) look set to present a united front in regulatory discussions, with plans for a merger in April.

Biba chief executive Mike Williams and AIIB chairman Mike Slack made the joint announcement on Monday.

Williams said: "Our combined forces will enable a strong, united voice to promote our industry sector and give us all credible input to influence the shape and scope or future and continuing regulation with the Financial Services Authority (FSA)."

The AIIB's 400 members have already been sent consultation packs on the proposal, which was mooted by Biba after the two bodies collaborated on a number of projects last year.

The consultation period ends on 31 January and an extraordinary general meeting will be held in either February or March so AIIB members can vote on the move.

Slack and Williams said they were confident the merger would go ahead.

Under the deal, Slack will join the main Biba board and the Biba General Insurance Brokers Committee.

The AIIB board and its secretary general Chris Arter will also be offered positions in the Biba regional structure.

AIIB members will continue to pay membership fees at the existing rate until 1 January 2003, after which they will be brought in line with Biba's fees over the following two years.

The AIIB will be dissolved following the merger, with its remaining assets to be transferred to Biba.

Slack and Williams said the merger would give brokers a cohesive presence in talks on the upcoming statutory regulation.

"I don't think you can have a multitude of trade associations trying to do the same thing," Slack said.

"The government is only going to talk to the pre-eminent trade association."

Williams said the move would coincide with the segmentation of Biba's services into nine business areas, with a member of the board responsible for one each.