Outside the conference there is a wealth of culture and entertainment available

With barely 48 hours to spend in Scotland’s largest and most boisterous city, and with a conference schedule as exciting and varied as any in its 30-year history, Insurance Times handpicks a list of ‘must do’ activities, both at Biba and beyond.

From pampering days to cookery classes, there should be something to whet even the most battle-hardened of broker’s appetites. But in case there isn’t, we have a list of key watering holes and restaurants to wash away the memories of a long day at the SECC.

The conference
After Biba chief and chair Eric Galbraith and Derek Thornton unleash their expected attack on the FSA for its morbid obsession with commission disclosure, attendees will doubtless be pleased with both the topicality and profile of the opening keynote session, ‘Influencing tomorrow’.

Do not be fooled by the vagueness of the name – the panel assembled includes: assistant secretary of state to former President Clinton, James Rubin; Stéphane Garelli, director of the World Competitiveness Center; and activist, author, economist and fellow of Cambridge University, Noreena Hertz – whom Harpers Bazaar has named as one of the most powerful women in Britain.

The fact that the discussion will be led by Declan Curry of BBC Breakfast fame should be enough to keep any would-be deserters firmly in their seats.

But should anyone be in need of motivation after lunch, they would do well to attend the seminar led by self-styled business development guru, Philip Hesketh. His talk on the ‘Psychology of persuasion’ has proven the most sought after session among Biba members.

Two other sessions, however, should be no less revealing, with Fortis chief Barry Smith leading a discussion on how brokers can equip themselves better for handling the cut-throat motor market, and a talk on the shifting relationship between aggregators and their reticent broker partners. After all that, brokers considering giving up the ghost ‘ ‘ and selling their businesses before the day is done would do well to attend the afternoon session with Lucy Beresford, resident at the legendary Priory clinic in Roehampton. Beresford will provide some much needed relief when she delivers her talk, ‘Dealing with pressure’.

If that doesn’t work, and you’re not pencilled in for one of the exclusive insurer dinners, it might be worth checking out the Biba funfair where there will be a plethora of stress-busting options, including a coconut shy and dodgems. Fair play to them – it should be good fun.

On Friday, should any of you be nursing headaches and bleary eyes, there could be a rude awakening in store from seemingly immortal BBC security correspondent and OBE Frank Gardner, who will provide his account of being shot six times by Islamic extremists. Obviously, he survived.

Options abound after lunch, including Cunningham Lindsay UK chief Phil McNeilage, who will address the impact of last year’s floods. Other delegates, meanwhile, will be reaching for the skies when former Red Arrow Justin Hughes explains what it takes to be the best.

But despite red plumes of smoke, seaweed wraps and splinter cells, few would dispute that the highlight of the conference will be the closing address by rockstar turned millionaire turned eco-campaigner turned knight of the realm, Bob Geldof. His talk, ‘Is that it?’, is expected to lambast the inaction of Western governments to deal with poverty across the globe, and will doubtless leave a lasting impression on all the attendees.

“The highlight of the conference will be the closing address by rockstar turned millionaire turned eco-campaigner turned knight of the realm, Bob Geldof.

If you need a break from the humdrum of the conference, there are a host of options available to you out in the city.

Biba options
lPamper Day, the Marriot Hotel, 50 Argyle Street For a meagre £60 you can enjoy the pool, spa and either a massage, facial or manicure. The fun begins at 10am on Thursday. Slippers included.

lCookery school, Peckams, Glassford Street Learn how to cook your own three-course gourmet meal. And then eat it. A snip at £50.

Bus tour - What finer way to view Glasgow than with the weather roulette tradition of an open-top bus tour? Tickets are valid for two days, so there’s no rush to cram it all in. For more info, visit www.scotguide.com

Glasgow Cathedral - With the first stone laid in 1136, the cathedral, just outside the city centre in the East End, is the place to come to get a sense of the city’s history.

Centre for Contemporary Arts - Based in the heart of Glasgow, this place has five floors hosting the latest in visual arts, contemporary music and film, with sidelines in performance art and spoken word, as well as two cafés for pit-stops.

The Botanic Gardens - This West End landmark features the famous collection of glasshouses and includes the renowned Kibble House, which contains an extensive collection of tropical and temperate plants from around the world.

Auchentoshan distillery - Ticking all the boxes (that is culture and whisky) and only 20 minutes outside of Glasgow, the fabled distillery lies next to the Erskine Bridge. Its claim to fame is the triple-distilled single malt it produces. There are daily guided tours and a shop, and to find out more, visit www.scotlandwhisky.com/distilleries/lowlands.

Buchanan Galleries - Located at the junction of Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street this shopping mall is to Glasgow what the Arndale Centre is to Manchester. The newest edition to Glasgow’s shopping malls, it hosts over 80 boutiques and shops.

Princes Square - Described by the Glasgow Guide as uniquely elegant, it houses exclusive designer names and boutiques, the Scottish Crafts Fair and various trendy cafés and bars.

30 things you (probably) did not know about Biba

The Biba conference has been held at 16 different venues, including Paris and Jersey.

The Biba exhibition has more than doubled in size since it was last in Glasgow in 2004. The amount of floor space used has increased from 2300sqm to 7000sqm.

It is the fourth time the Biba conference has been held in Glasgow, more than any other city.

Over 35 companies are exhibiting at the conference for the first time this year.

The technical equipment that was put into the conference at last year at the Excel Centre in London was worth more than 16m pounds.

This will be the first time that Biba has held an evening event on site at the exhibition centre.

Heather Small was chosen to sing at this years gala dinner, after the emotional impact that her song Proud had on the audience during Lord Coes 2006 Biba conference speech.

Biba represents 2,300 insurance intermediaries, including 98 of the UKs top 100 firms.

Biba members handle around half the value of all UK home, contents, motor, travel, commercial and industrial insurance policies.

Independent insurance intermediaries distribute nearly two-thirds of all UK general insurance, of which Biba members account for more than 80per cent.

Between them, the Biba team has over 160 years experience as insurance practitioners.

Biba responded to 30 government/regulatory consultation papers in the last year on behalf of members.

Biba has 20 meetings with MPs planned so far this year.

Biba monitors and considers responding to up to 600 government consultations papers each year.

In 2007 Biba received more than 700 media mentions.

More than 500 brokers own the Biba compliance manual.

172 Biba regulation guidance notes have been issued to members since 14 January 2005.

The Biba consumer helpline receives over 50,000 calls annually which are referred on to members.

The online find a broker facility receives over 80,000 visitors annually.

More than 13,000 users have purchased Broker Assess, Bibas online training and competency programme.

The document most frequently downloaded from the Biba website is The Biba Guide to TCF Management Information.

Biba has five technical committees focusing on specialist areas - property, motor, liability, private medical insurance and regulation. There are 12 regional committees capturing grass roots views which are fed back to Biba.

Biba has around 30 schemes and facilities which are specially negotiated for the benefit of members.

Biba is a not-for-profit organisation. Membership starts from as little as 36 pounds a month.

Biba has 22 partners, including insurers.

Biba also represents members on an international level via Bipar, the European Federation of Insurance Intermediaries.

Biba was founded in 1977, became Biiba in 1988 and then returned to Biba in 1999, following its involvement in the establishment of AIFA.

Two Biba staff members are grand parents, guess who?

Collectively, Biba staff have 10 fish, five cockatiels, four cats, three guinea pigs, two Kakirikis, one dog and a tortoise.

Any number of staff from any Biba member firm can attend the Biba conference for free.