Local branches of trade and professional bodies offer great potential for learning, says Waltham Pitglow

How can the local representatives of trade organisations help you in the run up to FSA authorisation?

As an intrepid journalist type, you can imagine that I was fascinated to see two luminaries of the industry, Bob Beckett, chairman of the Beckett Group and Total Broking Solutions and, Branko Bjelobaba of the GISC, in what seemed to be a heated discussion together at a recent local function.

Although my investigative mind remains tuned to the 'scoop' - I am very much limited these days to seeking out relevant exclusives for readers of this CPD page - I could not stop my inquisitive mind racing and considering what the subject of this most obviously engrossing conversation might be. Armed with a large brandy I joined another nearby group of dinner guests.

Sadly my dreams of uncovering some plan of dominating the Croatian insurance market were scotched when I realised that, like two train-spotters swapping stories of the latest high speed intercontinental bullet they had photographed on holiday on the Dalmatian coast, they were in fact comparing notes on the quality of speakers at CII local institute gatherings and the CPD value of such functions.

Well, I have to admit that I know little about local CII institutes, but being a CPD newshound, I responded to my duty and the following day picked up the phone to both men with a request for a chat.

What I discovered rather amazed me. There are about 70 local institutes affiliated to the CII around the country. From the perspective of providing a local representation this seems to indicate that few readers would have to travel more than 50 miles to attend an 'event' and in most cases much less.

Serious note
What was more interesting, was the range of events and services that are available. In ignorance I had assumed that local institutes would comprise only a small number of dyed-in-the-wool qualified people who meet a few times a year to have a black tie dinner and wear gongs and occasionally arrange theatre or go-karting outings together.

Not so it seems. At this point I would ask readers to take serious note of the value of inquiring about how local CII gatherings (and indeed those of other professional institutes and associations) can add to the scope of CPD and the maintenance of competence planning for all insurance practitioners.

What struck me most was the low or non-existent cost of attending events, (generally structured to break even on the day), the quality of the speakers and the relevance of the subjects to modern compliant practices.

Being somewhat cynical, I challenged CII vice president Bob Beckett to justify this 'low cost or no cost' claim with a list of speakers that often charge four figures for such events.

Perhaps more logically than I had imagined, it seems that many keynote speakers on subjects ranging from regulation to business management to technical subjects are themselves qualified practitioners of one professional body or another and see this sort of event as part of their own CPD programme.

On this particular point I remember an occasion a few years ago when I was addressing a group of lawyers on the subject of the Woolf reforms as they related to insurance claims. As I finished speaking a grey-haired men up to me for my autograph on a grubby sheet of paper. Inquiring some time later about the reason for my apparent fame, I was told that this individual was in fact a leading QC who had been involved in drafting Lord Woolf's reforms and that I had simply confirmed his attendance at the event for CPD purposes.

The modern regulator does commend the concept of personal development by networking and sharing ideas and Bjelobaba was very quick to point out that, while the traditional aspect of local CII institute groups remains - and there is no reason why it should not - the major benefit to practitioners is the facility to share ideas and problems with others.

While the social aspect remains an important part of the philosophy (local institutes raise a phenomenal sum for charity each year and that cannot be a bad thing), the major benefit at present is that leading trade institutions could be providing a fantastic resource of expertise and assistance to practitioners on a local basis that readers are not accessing.

Space does not permit me to detail fully the discussion I had with Bjelobaba and Beckett, but I think the learning point is there for all readers who want to give a solid underpin to their training and competence schemes in the run-up to FSA authorisation.

If want to find out more, the CII website will almost certainly have a link to your local institute website and I am assured that most events of a learning nature are not limited to CII members. (see www.cii.co.uk). Alternatively contact Peter Hutchinson on 0207 417 4409 who will give out the local contact name and number. Another choice is to contact Paul Garland at Biba (garlandp@biba.org.uk and 0207 623 9043) for details of local Biba offerings.

Interesting sessions
The CII and Biba are not the only institutes or trade associations offering such events arranged locally rather than via central office. If you are a professional institute or trade body and do offer sessions of interest at little or no cost do get in touch with me with details. (ruy.lopez@brokercompliance.co.uk)

It is not my job to sell the CII and regular readers will know that when a challenge is required we will be at the forefront, but do remember that local CII institutes are run by local practitioners for local practitioners and that includes any person in the industry.

I was cynical in the first instance, but frankly, if two people of such standing can be so committed to the cause I do urge readers to find out for themselves what is on offer.

Good or bad, it is worth finding out and I cannot help but think that there is quite a lot there to assist you in your ongoing learning.

Waltham Pitglow is an independent training and competence consultant

  • This page is edited by RW Associates, specialists in training, compliance and competence.
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    Using this CPD page
    For the vast majority of practitioners and indeed support and supervisory staff in our industry, CPD is about regular learning and study that is planned, recorded, timed and evaluated.

    If you are a member of a professional body with a CPD requirement then there will be certain rules regarding the quality and nature of study material, and the way in which it is recorded.

    For staff of GISC members this means recording on your individual training file what the learning was, who provided it and when.

    It might be structured, such as a course, a learning programme or exam study. But it can be unstructured. This form of study encompasses reading the trade press, technical material or taking part in activities to support your professional body.

    Some CPD requirements are points related (a little antiquated) and others require a time value to be allocated.

    For example, it might take one hour to read Insurance Times each week. Most of that could be put as a time value but, in reality, perhaps only an half hour was devoted to learning something. The rule is to be honest with yourself and record the time that is relevant.

    Always take time to make a note of what you felt you gained from the activity. This is useful information for anyone else considering the same activity.

    In response to the popularity of our CPD programme each week's CPD page can now be downloaded from our website. We will be preparing a binder for you to keep these in alongside the results of the exercises.

    To download a PDF of this article as it appears in the magazine click here .