Not all are relieved by the long-awaited merger between Biba and IIB. Will smaller brokers’ interests be overshadowed by the needs of the big players?

It is a momentous day for the insurance broking community. 1 November will go down in history as the day when the two largest insurance broker trade bodies, Biba and the IIB, finally confirmed they have merged into a single entity. The large majority of the broker market will breathe a sigh of relief. It has been collectively calling for it to happen for some time and speculation has continuously rumbled around the market. It has been one of the market’s worse-kept secrets.

But there was not always complete harmony among brokers. A small collection of the IIB’s diehard members opposed a merger, along with the late Andrew Paddick, the IIB’s vociferous leader until January 2008, who led the organisation as a fiercely independent body and adopted a competitive stance when lobbying alongside the likes of Biba. But times change and the two bodies have now done what they assure us is the best thing for brokers.

The announcement was first made at the Biba conference back in May and since talks have been ongoing. On the face of it, brokers won’t see too many changes, and the new body will continue to lobby on the big issues as discussed in our online Q&A today. Behind the scenes, there will be a few new faces joining the Biba board. As well as IIB chief executive Barbara Bradshaw, other broker heavyweights include: Barry Fehler, chairman of South Essex Insurance Brokers, Oamps’s Bryan Whicher and Bob Pybus of NPA Insurance Group. The IIB will have strong representation on the board and with former Towergate chief executive Andy Homer, who has a deep affiliation with both groups, set to join as the new chairman in January, Biba could argue it has never been stronger.

Going it alone?

But for those who do not favour the idea of a joint body, how will they react? There has been some murmurings from the smaller broker community that the new body will be too heavily focused on the medium to large brokers. Biba said it is identifying ways to focus on the issues affecting smaller brokers, and this could mean launching a separate group solely focusing on that criteria. But it is still too early to rule out splinter groups forming among unappeased brokers. It happened back in 2008 when some London members of Biba split to form The London and International Insurance Brokers’ Association (Liiba), saying they wanted to focus more on London market issues. Watch this space.