The sluggish economy and continuing soft market are putting pressure on brokers’ business models, but help is at hand. Industry leaders at this year’s Biba are offering advice on how to navigate through thesechallenging times via a series of insurance-focused seminars. Here, we highlight what’s coming up

Barry Smith, Ageas

1. Trade credit insurance

Thursday 17 May 10.30-11.20

Who? Patrick Crawford, chief executive,
UK Export Finance; Marc Henstridge, head of risk UK and Ireland, Atradius; Susan Ross, account director, Aon Trade Credit; Trevor Price, managing partner, Credit & Business Finance Group

Why go? Against a backdrop of depressed levels of economic activity, companies are looking at regenerating trade through credit insurance, both for domestic sales and export. This session will look at the use of credit insurance to support the government’s initiative on increasing exports, SME export strategies in light of the eurozone debt crisis, and protecting against credit risk.

What you should ask: “What do brokers offer and are they a real alternative to online comparison sites?”

2. Motor insurance – how to make a profit

Wednesday 16 May 16.00-16.50

Who? Barry Smith, chief executive, Ageas; David Williams, claims and underwriting director, AXA; David Newman, chief executive, Carole Nash Insurance Consultants; Shona Robertson, partner, H&R Insurance; chair Simon Jack, business correspondent, Radio 4’s Today programme

Why go? Never before has there been such a spotlight on one sector of the insurance market. The Office of Fair Trading, Ministry of Justice, FSA, Transport Select Committee, MPs and the European Court of Justice have all been scrutinising motor cover, the use of risk-based pricing, payment of referral fees, activities of claims farmers and accident management companies.

What you should ask: “How can brokers
earn a profit and how can insurers return to underwriting profitability in motor?”

3. The next generation

Wednesday 16 May 16.00-16.50

Who? Amanda Blanc, chief executive, AXA Commercial Lines; Sandy Scott, director-general, CII; Jemma Nicholson, account executive, Swinton Commercial; Paul Sapiro, account executive, Griffiths & Armour;
Tom French, private clients claims manager, Lark Insurance Group

Why go? The issue of recruitment, retention and development of top talent across the broking profession is one that has become particularly pertinent in recent years. The spanel will look at the success of brokers in attracting new talent, what is being done to keep the best team leaders, how well geared brokerages are to career development, and improving the reputation of the profession.

What you should ask: “What does the future look like for broking?”

4. What do future customers want?

Thursday 17 May 10.30-11.20

Who? Dan Moore, lead investigator, Which? magazine; Teresa Pritchard, director, Citizens Advice Bureau; John Hurrell, chief executive, Airmic; Andy Homer, chairman, Biba;
chair Paul Lewis, BBC Radio 4

Why go? This is the one session that everyone selling insurance should attend. With the reputation of the financial services industry coming under increased pressure, making sure you have the right products and selling them in the right way is paramount. Among the key considerations are a focus on price, service levels claims, convenience, simple products, and commoditisation versus advice and professionalism.

What you should ask: “How can I meet the needs of my clients in the future?”

5. Biba’s new ShowGizmo app

What is it? This year Biba is launching is first app for the conference. Brokers will be able to use their iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys or Android devices to find out what’s on, book meetings, or simply stay in touch. Users can download profiles of exhibiting companies and their staff, as well as brochures, while also uploading their own information.

How do I get set up? Biba will have staff on hand in the Connection Zone at stand C1 to help you get the most out of the experience, including tweeting your views live on stage. Advice will be given on the best platforms for your business, how other insurers and brokers use social media and how social media can support your broader marketing activity. Biba’s own Twitter feed #BIBA2012 will be displayed live in the exhibition hall and before the keynote and seminar sessions in the auditoriums.

And the rest …

  • Wednesday 16 May 16.00-16.50 Healthcare - a new stream of income?
  • Thursday 17 May 10.30-11.20 The compliance countdown – a rundown of the latest regulatory issues
  • Fringe session 1, Wednesday 16 May 11:45-12:30
  • Session Bs: Focus on schemes,
  • Session D: UK Plus 1 - multinational business and broker opportunities
  • Fringe session 2, Wednesday 16 May 13.00-13.45
  • Session A: The insurance broker PCC - unique in all senses
  • Session D: Client money and risk transfer - what’s going wrong?
  • Fringe session 3, Thursday 17 May 13.45-14.30
  • Session A: Review of the Law Commission’s joint project on insurance law
  • Session D: Increase insurance business online with effective Google marketing