Andrew Holt talks to the new president of the CII, Ian Templeton

As the political conference season is well under way, political leaders are falling over themselves to present their "unique" vision to the world. In his final year, Tony Blair has set himself the small task of bringing peace to the Middle East, Cameron wants us to hug a hoodie and the old Liberal Democrat fellow fumbles on without a clue.

Ian Templeton, newly inaugurated as CII president this week, is passionate to express his own big vision, but unlike his political equivalents he does not speak in sound bites or vacuous platitudes. His agenda is real and has solid implications for the institute as a whole and its members at all levels - particularly in the regions.

One big focus is on the CII membership, and ensuring regional members feel part of the organisation. "We are looking at the membership and at what members want," says Templeton.

"We need to re-engage members at a local level. It is something we need to improve on and improve services at a local level."

The CII has come under regular criticism for being too London focused and not looking in the direction of the regional institutes.

"What we are keen to do is not be seen as London-centric but support members on a local basis. We are looking to support local institutes and work together as a local community."

This move is much needed. Apart from being accused of being London-centric, Insurance Times has heard criticism of the CII as being a "cartel", "control freaks", and even the "Kremlin".

It is something 'comrade' Templeton is trying to escape from. "Nobody should be afraid of criticism, and we need to react and respond and we need to get better," admits Templeton.

The aim is to make the CII more streamlined, with a modern company 12-person board system at the core of the operation, and greater transparency throughout.

"The way people have been elected seems to the outsider as an old boy network," confesses Templeton.

"The organisation will be stronger and more efficient. It will be more effective, more cohesive and get away from the old structure. We are trying to make it less City-centric with regular road shows, as it is not just the structure that is changing, it is the whole approach. To say it is a cartel is a bit pessimistic. But we understand the concerns that the CII is seen as an old boys' club."

The CII is also focusing beyond its current membership. "We had a period focusing on what employers want and now focus on what members want. But we have 90,000 members, yet there are 300,000 people working in insurance in the UK and we need to ask why are we not appealing to them?"

Templeton wants to convince budding members of the benefits of institute membership and of getting qualified.

"It is about being professional and that carries quality with it," he says.

The institute is also looking to encourage talent into the industry - with an initiative to be launched on this at this week's conference. "That is not to say there is not enough talented people in the industry. But we need to get better. So we can enhance the industry," says Templeton.

CPD programmes
Templeton is determined to increase the number of students coming into the industry. "In five years' time we would like to see something like a 25% increase of those leaving university coming into insurance."

But there also needs to be focus on maintaining CPD programmes within the industry. "There are local examples in the industry with people who started at the bottom and need training to help them to keep learning, as there is a great deal of talent within the industry that we need to keep helping and working on."

The CII is also promoting more diversity in the industry. "There are a lot more women in the industry, but we need to focus on diversity in every aspect," Templeton says.

Templeton first became a member of the institute in 1967, qualified as a fellow in 1973 and is a chartered insurer.

He is managing director of UIA Insurance, a specialist trade union insurer and has taken his experience in this realm as an industry best practice.

Union values
"What we do as an insurance company operates with trade union values, such as open transparency in a world not known to be transparent."

Regulation is also helping to drive this. "We have found regulation to be helpful, but expensive," admits Templeton. "If we look at the [CII's] relationship with the regulator, it knows where we stand on various issues.

"It is a view that sometimes the FSA takes a more robust approach than the rest of Europe which may be the case, but it is an aid to improve the reputation of the industry."

And what about industry rumours that the CII conference will be merging with Biba? Templeton is unwilling to confirm this, but does conclude: "We do need an annual conference for the institute." IT

An insurance all-rounder
Ian Templeton is managing director of UIA (Insurance). He was previously employed by Provincial Insurance, Whiteley Henshaw Hindle, Cornhill Insurance, Sentry Insurance and Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society.

During much of his career Templeton has been engaged in sales and marketing activities. Following a move into a more administrative role at C&G he moved to UIA to manage the underwriting, claims, administration and technical insurance functions.

His current role is to build a sound strategy to strengthen UIA's position in the area of providing personal lines insurance to the trade union affinity market.

He considers himself fortunate in these days of specialisation of having experience in both life and general insurance as well as sales and administration. Templeton became a member of the Institute in 1967, qualified as a Fellow in 1973 and is a Chartered Insurer and has been a member of the CII Council since 1989.