We'll draw up a plan based on the discussions and together make our voice heard, says Andy Cook
Last week, Insurance Times hosted Strategy 2002. In the relaxed surroundings of the Celtic Manor, Cardiff, hundreds of directors from brokers and risk carriers participated in open debates on the challenges facing general insurance.
It was not for the faint-hearted. A panel of chief executives including Zurich's Patrick O'Sullivan and Hiscox's Bronek Masojada was grilled by the audience ably assisted by world-class inquisitor John Humphrys. Also FSA managing director John Tiner stood up in front of a hundred baying brokers, fielding tough, and in some cases emotionally-charged, questions with talk of commonsense solutions. You could almost see the tension drop from the shoulders of the brokers. One collared me after the session and said: "He's a man we can do business with."
Strategy 2002 successfully stopped brokers and risk carriers from simply blaming each other. Both sides could see that only by working together can the industry take its rightful place among the few world-class professions in the UK. On issues such as reputation, its bedfellow recruitment, liability and flooding, much work can be done together in new ways. Many, on both sides, even swore that they would try to eliminate culturally-entrenched, adversarial ways of doing business.
In a week when one of Britain's most treasured names was forced into radical restructuring to ensure its healthy survival, it was encouraging to see so many people raise their heads from the coalface and look to the long-term future. We have had enough of short-term reactions to our problems. We need strategic thought.
Because we passionately believe in being part of a dynamic, world-class profession that can identify, discuss and act on the long-term issues facing it, I have pledged to act on the issues you and your colleagues raised at the conference.
How many times do you attend a conference, hear excellent debates that stimulate wonderful ideas, only for them to be lost in the fog of everyday working life? I promise that this will not happen. Over the coming weeks, we will produce an action plan based on the conference discussions. And after hearing your feedback on that plan, Insurance Times will investigate and discuss those issues, publishing regular updates. It will also provide a forum for your thoughts. And in 12 months I will make a formal report back to you.
As our MORI research showed last week, our industry is thought to do a pretty good job. But there is room for improvement. Please help us to help you.