The standards board can restore our reputation, says John Lyons

We hear a lot about consumer confidence, or rather the lack of it, in the insurance industry. Alas there is no magic wand that can be waved to restore public belief and faith in our products and services. Trust takes time to build and the sooner we begin the better.

It's also no good relying on others to do the job for us. We all have a responsibility and a role to play. If we act together then we will progress much more quickly. One of the key areas to tackle is educating consumers so that they get a better understanding of the industry. That means creating a dialogue with consumers, which in turn means being more open and transparent.

This can be achieved through consumer representation in your organisation. Good corporate governance will ensure you are accountable, transparent and adhere to best practice.

Professionalism and high standards are of course another way to demonstrate our commitment to the consumer. You might say that this is commonplace. Yet for consumers, how do they know of our professional and ethical conduct, and our competence?

The CII is in an ideal position to lead the way. Recognised for its neutrality and as a professional institute providing education and qualifications, it is now taking the lead with a new Professional Standards Board. The board will promote professionalism and the adoption of the highest standards widely throughout the insurance and the financial services industry. It will also have a role to play in the interface with government, regulators and most importantly consumers.

In order to ensure its own good governance, the board is being formed from a variety of CII, industry and, crucially, external specialists encompassing regulation, academe, consumer groups and others.

A CII standards advisory group comprising experts from different fields will support the board. This group will form a pool from which ad hoc working parties can be formed to research and develop policies for recommendation. Initial groups are being identified for business ethics; whistle-blowing and consumer representation.

This is where you can play your part. We need members with wide-ranging occupational expertise across the industry to join the group. We particularly want loss adjusting, pensions, corporate governance - diversity, consumer representation, transparency - expertise. Call the CII on 020 7417 4780 for details.

With better corporate governance and through the work of bodies like the standards board, the professionalism and reputation of our industry will be improved. That has to be to the benefit of everyone.

John Lyons is chairman of the Professional Standards Board at the CII