As the CII kicks off its annual conference, the pressure is on to merge it with the Biba event. Michael Faulkner reports
Next week, Birmingham's ICC will once again open its doors to the insurance industry as the CII's annual UK Insurance and Financial Services conference gets underway.But with the CII's event coming less than five months after the Biba conference in Glasgow, there is growing pressure for a joint CII and Biba conference. A straw poll by Insurance Times finds that there is a groundswell of opinion amongst brokers in favour of such a move. "Merging Biba and CII makes a lot of sense. Biba used to be strong in the broking fraternity and CII used to be for the insurance company, but now it has reached the stage where we should have a joint conference," says Duncan Macbeth, director of Macbeth Scott & Co.Proponents says that a joint conference would marry the networking opportunities provided by the Biba conference and the technical aspects of the CII conference to provide a single 'must attend' industry event. Also many brokers say they simply do not have time to come to two conferences in a year.
Different institutionsIncoming CII president Bob Beckett is a keen advocate of joining the two conferences. "A single conference would bring together the whole market," he says But not everyone shares this view. "They are two different institutions. The CII is an all-embracing academic institution, Biba is a broker trade body," says Composite Legal Expenses managing director John Mullin. Biba chief executive Eric Galbraith takes a similar line. Mullin argues that it is not a merger of the conferences that is necessary but a re-examination of their respective programmes. "I looked at the content of the CII and Biba conferences and they were remarkably similar. "They [the organisers] need to look at content to make sure that it is more meaningful to the members and that the conferences are not just used for networking."
Specific contentThe CII says it is making efforts to attract more brokers. A spokesman says that a fifth of the 500 attendees are brokers. He said this was "more than last year". "We are working with insurers to get broker-specific content. We are launching the Faculty of Brokers at the conference," he says.But with brokers getting ever busier, the CII has its work cut out to encourage brokers to take a further two days out of their already hectic schedules.
Are you going to the CII conference?Pauline Quayle, Chartwell Insurance, is not going:"I don't know whether what I'd get out of it would justify the expense. The insurers tell us what goes on at the conference anyway. I don't know if networking opportunities would be as good as at the Biba conference."
Glyn Rowett, Rowett Insurance, is not going:"Biba encompasses everything we want to pick up. CII is another bit of time out of the office. Ideally the conferences should be together."
David Perry, Folgate Warren Hill, is not going. "Not around."
Duncan Macbeth, Macbeth Scott & Co, is going:"The more things you attend, the more you learn about what is going on. We are in markedly changing times."
John Mullin, Composite Legal Expenses, is not going:"My diary is too full, but I'd love to go."
Paul Robertson, Midway Insurance, is not going: "I have other commitments. I use conferences for networking and Biba was only a few months ago."
Mike Dickson, HCC, is not going:"Not sure it's ever popped up on my radar."
Anthony Swinglehurst, Swinglehurst, is not going:"I didn't know about it. We do go to some conferences - we had people up at Biba. I don't think the CII conference has a high enough profile."
Should there be a joint CII and Biba conference?
Glyn Rowett, Rowett Insurance"Ideally the conferences should be together."
Duncan Macbeth, Macbeth Scott & Co"Merging Biba and CII makes a lot of sense. Biba used to be strong in the broking fraternity and CII used to be for the insurance company; but now it has got to the stage where we should have a joint conference."
John Mullin, Composite Legal Expenses"They should not be merged, they are two different institutions. The CII is an all-embracing academic institution, Biba is a broker trade body."
Pauline Quayle, Chartwell Insurance "I don't think a joint conference would be a good idea. Insurers and intermediaries have different needs, and the conference would become too large and unwieldy."