By backing insurers Biba's top man risks alienating brokers, warns Michelle Hannen
The news that chief executive Mike Williams leaves Biba on 12 September will provoke mixed reactions from brokers.
One of his greatest achievements has been to build bridges between Biba and other representative bodies - as evidenced by strengthened ties with the CII which culminated in the recent launch of broker ASSESS. In an industry notorious for a lack of co-operation this is no mean feat, but it is Biba's budding cooperation with the ABI that may tarnish Williams' legacy.
The recent ABI/Biba service standards highlight the issue. Biba originally wrote service standards that had been agreed to by its partner insurers. Williams believed garnering the ABI's support would help gain wider industry acceptance, but in reality, opening the door to the ABI resulted in the opposite - a severely watered-down document.
Williams' stance on the issue of credit risk transfer reinforces the dangers inherent in a close ABI/Biba relationship. At a recent meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on insurance, Williams took the extraordinary step of warning MPs that risk transfer would severely increase the burden on insurers. Risk transfer is a complex issue with no simple answers, but with close to 600 brokers declaring their support for the initiative, Williams should be backing their views rather than going into bat for insurers.
Each organisation exists to serve its members; cooperation is nice but as long as insurers and brokers have diametrically different views, so should their representative bodies.