The CII Faculty of Insurance Brokers gives brokers the professional status they have been striving for. Robin Wood looks at how it is structured to appeal to the broker market

About six months ago we predicted on this page the launch of the CII Faculty of Insurance Brokers. Now we can go further and say that the faculty will be formally announced at the CII conference today and up and running from tomorrow.

Ok, so the news of the actual launch of the faculty is old hat, but for our many thousands of readers we thought it might be helpful if we brought you up to date with some exclusive news about the faculty's board members.

I will not tell you names as this is something for the news pages rather than a CPD article, but I have seen the provisional list of board members.

To be frank, I am gob-smacked. I really believed that this might be another case of the same old faces that we have seen in the past, but far from it.

One of the main criteria that we suggested in earlier articles was that the board should be representative of us, the brokers, and the list is impressive:

  • Large and small firms
  • Geographical spread throughout the UK
  • Different areas of the business
  • High level representatives from trade bodies (not the second or third in command)
  • All sexes
  • Wide age span.
  • In particular, rather than just being another list of professional "committee people", this is about modern brokers who are successful and in the thick of the market on a day-to-day basis.

    How often have we seen representative committees, both in work and socially, that are made up of heroes from years gone by, those who have nothing better to do, such as retirees.

    Someone, somewhere has considerable credibility and support to pull together a team such as this, so I do urge readers to keep up to date with the news as it unfolds. If, as the blurb on the packet says "the faculty will represent the industry", this is a very good start.

    We predicted the faculty entry fee to be the cost of a pint of beer a week (£2 in the Midlands). We may be slightly off target here as we only know the proposals at this stage.

    Not only could it be cheaper, (details will be confirmed tomorrow, so please check the website www.cii.co.uk/faculties) but the initial proposal has been structured cleverly to include CII membership. This means that CII members will pay say an extra £10 or so and new members will pay £70 or so to include the CII membership.

    When I heard about this structure I thought that this was to increase CII membership, but it is a benefit rather than an extra. The reason lies in the fact that the faculty itself is not an educational or chartered body (it is a section of the CII) so that if a person has not joined the CII as well, there will be no discounts on material, courses, exams or assessments and, of course, the Chartered Broker title can only be gained through CII membership.

    All in all it seems to me that rather than charge £50 or £60 for a membership of the faculty only, the idea of including membership of both is something of a brainwave. Do beware of my figures, they are no more than an informed guestimate and I am sure that the board will have budgets to approve on this matter.

    The faculty has particular relevance to CPD and learning.

    The first thing I want every reader to do is to add to your personal or company budgets £75 for every member of staff who is a non CII member and £20 for each CII member to take you through the next year.

    Let us assume that to be a member you will have to be working for a broking firm that conducts broking business full time.

    The reason that I am suggesting that you get the budget agreed now (with the family or with your board of directors), is that while you may adopt a bit of a 'wait and see' approach, there is no point waiting an extra 12 months just because your training and competence budget is overstretched.

    For example, if you have a 25-man firm with five CII members, set aside another £1,600, or about £130 a month.

    So what on earth has this to do with CPD?

    Well, having seen the Claims Faculty leap into existence a few months ago we know the CII can deliver. From the plans afoot, it is my belief that this will be the most cost efficient quality CPD available anywhere (apart from the Insurance Times CPD page of course).

    These are some of the benefits of the faculty:

  • Newsletters
  • Practice notes
  • CII Journal
  • Access (free) to CII library
  • Guidance notes
  • Discounts on just about everything that moves.
  • How will this fit into FSA regulation? I cannot say, that is a matter between you and the regulator, but add the following all inclusive benefits to your list:

  • Code of conduct
  • Broker specific assessment qualifications (basic to advanced)
  • Member of a professional body
  • High level representation.
  • The reaction cannot be other than positive if it is part of a compliant regime.

    My view is that there are 50,000 or more people employed by 5,500 firms other than national broking firms that have registered with the FSA. I think we should all be willing to invest one year's membership fee in the project.

    If it does not work we can walk away in 12 months, but if it does then for the first time in our history we have a standards body that represents only us, the broker, and which can deem us qualified in one way or another.

    I opened this article by waxing lyrical about the representative board. Once you know who is representing you (and remember it is their credentials and not whether you know them and like them that is important), think seriously about getting involved sooner rather than later.

    The members of this board have a proven track record of being taken seriously by the powers that be so we need to give them the bodies to represent.

    Six months ago when the idea of a faculty was launched, we ripped into the CII on this page for not representing the views of our readers and the broker community in their plans for a faculty. In particular we went for the director general's shins.

    It seems that humble pie is now to be eaten by yours truly. Not only has Sandy Scott listened but he has gone that extra mile. My cheque will be on its way as soon as membership is launched.

  • Robin Wood is managing director of RWA Group
  • This page is edited by RW Associates, aspecialist in training, compliance and competence. Email:
    ruy.lopez@brokercompliance.co.uk