The institute has a newfound commercialism, which is good news. But Andy Cook says it needs to be watched

Shortly after last year's CII conference in Edinburgh, Andy Homer and AXA parted ways. Earlier in the year, president Michael Bright resigned, following the collapse of Independent Insurance. It seemed that the post was jinxed.

However, one year on things seem much brighter. Much of credit must go to departing president Lillian Boyle, who has been a steadying hand on the tiller, and to director general Sandy Scott, who has led the CII into profit for the first time.

But some critics say that the institute's new found commercial nous is dangerous. How can an organisation dedicated to safeguarding standards of competence in the industry also be on the lookout to make a few quid from training?

The answer is not clear-cut. The CII must have a sound commercial footing in order to provide the service our industry needs. But it must not create a market for its own training and be seen to be cashing in. Rival training companies will always cry foul. And so the CII's interests must always be demonstrably whiter than white. I'm not sure that they are at the moment. Not because the CII has anything to hide, but rather that the institute is moving fast and its position is still emerging. Over the coming months, it will be worth keeping an eye on.

It is heartening to see that the CII is attempting to heal the rift between brokers and insurers too (could it be something to do with Andy Homer's defection to the other side?). It seems that Biba and the CII have agreed to a joint conference sometime in the next few years. What a relief!

Instead of attending half-a-dozen conferences a year, the industry should be attempting to bring everyone together at one venue, once a year. This should hopefully eradicate bickering, evident at home-turf conferences, and focus minds on the issues that matter in a constructive way, rather than just blame the other lot and then pass a blame-transfer motion.

Loss adjusters have already agreed to a joint conference for next year. How about risk managers joining in too?

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