Fisher talks to Insurance Times about plans to drive forward professionalism

Sian Fisher

Sian Fisher, the new chief executive of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), is keen to get the body to engage more with industry and develop initiatives that will attract people to the industry.

Fisher is no stranger to the CII’s professionalism agenda. She has held senior positions with both the CII and the Insurance Institute of London.

Her most recent role was as Arthur J Gallagher International chief underwriting officer. She joined Gallagher in 2008 after the acquisition of broker Oxygen, where she was head of the managing general agency arm, OIM Underwriting.

Now, as head of the CII, she plans to drive forward the professionalism agenda by engaging more with firms and attracting talent to the industry. Insurance Times spoke to Fisher about her top five priorities.


1. Professionalism

Fishers says the CII is striving to build a robust professionalism agenda in two of the main areas where the public form much of their opinion about risk and insurance: direct personal lines and claims handling.

She points to the FCA’s thematic reviews of claims that highlight the regulator’s big concerns about professionalism and conduct in this area.

But Fisher acknowledges that there are practical challenges for firms with direct personal lines and claims arms around pushing forward a professionalism agenda to become chartered.

Fisher says: “Direct personal lines is generally a less well remunerated area and you get a lot of turnover. In claims handling it is the same thing – there is a high employee count, but it can be done.”

The CII will also target brokers.

Some, Fisher says, have been reluctant to take up chartered corporate status, despite individuals in their firms being chartered, because they want to be “shown the value of it”.

”We have statistics to show that being chartered makes a difference,” she adds. “If you are chartered it does improve the comfort level of the people dealing with firms.”

Fisher says she plans to meet with firms in the coming months to work with them.

The CII has also been pushing publicity in the wider media about the benefits for customers when dealing with chartered firms.

2. Education

The CII is changing the way it assesses students. As well as examinations, The CII is offering assignment-based assessment to help individuals gain skills that are transferable within insurance.

Fisher says the changes are a result of firms saying that they need more people to take insurance knowledge and apply it in a practical way.

The CII is also setting up a mentoring scheme for those studying for CII exams to partner with recent graduates in a joint venture with the London Institute.

A study of recent graduates found that partnering with other graduates while they were studying would have helped them with their studies and exams.

3. Thought leadership

Through its course material, the CII plans to do more publicity on the importance of ethical culture and conduct. 

The push is coming at a time when the FCA and PRA’s senior manager’s regime is being brought into force.

Fisher says: ”Firms think it is a good idea, but have historically parked it in the compliance box. But now everyone is saying this is quite serious and I might be held responsible. It’s an ability for us to refresh and remind people it is a really important thing.”

The CII is also trying to drive more awareness about careers in insurance by creating websites targeting young people and matching them with relevant insurance jobs.

4. Simplification

The CII wants to make the language on its websites and its course material more user friendly.

Fisher says this will make assignments less cumbersome for students and will also attract more individuals to study for the CII exams.

5. Membership

There is a lot of goodwill from the industry towards what the CII does, Fisher says. But she adds that from conversations with insurance professionals, she believes there is a desire for simpler communication around the benefits and services that it offers.

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