As the debate about broker remuneration gathers pace, I would like to make a few comments as a recent recruit to insurance broking.
Firstly, nobody is forcing all brokers onto a fee basis - it does not suit everybody. Why is it that when a broker makes a positive statement about disclosure of earnings or fees, we get a defensive cry of "no" from others, followed by the usual stale "do supermarkets disclose profit on cans of beans?" argument.
Brokers have different costs attached to their business and fee income is a simply a way of ensuring that the right level of remuneration is received for the work done for some organisations.
It is ironic that brokers spend most of their time criticising insurers, but are quite happy for them to set the commission, premium and therefore income for their business.
There is one fundamental reason why brokers do not want to disclose earnings - they cannot justify how much they earn for the job that they do. It is easier for the client not to know and imply that a lot more money actually goes to those awful insurers. Before the old guard reach for their pens and tell me about their professionalism, we are still filling letter pages with tales of pricing differentials and the sad loss of private motor renewals to the direct arm of a composite insurer for £5.42 less.
Conversely, some clients do not generate enough commission and as I am often told, they are subsidised by the others with larger premiums - well that's OK then.
The FSA will certainly bring about change and transparency is high on their agenda, which will make broking more interesting, particularly for those who are clinging to secret earnings for dear life.
The more people oppose transparency and fees, the better it will be for those of us who will hopefully have a workable fee structure in place very soon.
Be it commission or fee, we need to get away from the cornerstone of insurance broking of the past - deception.
Oughtred & Harrison Insurance