It was great to be back at BIBA this year. The exhibition hall was busier than ever, with a fantastic, diverse portfolio of products and services, and a stellar line up of content in the main auditorium and around the fringe. It’s one of the few events that really brings together every element of our value chain – brokers, insurers, actuaries, platform providers, infrastructure, and security – all with a common goal of delivering service excellence to customers.
The BIBA Insurance Conference is one of the largest and most significant events in the insurance industry’s calendar each year, with a record of over 9000 people through the doors of Manchester Central; a real triumph for Steve White and the entire BIBA team.
For the Novidea team, out in force with a stunning stand to match, it was the perfect opportunity to mix, mingle, and meet prospects keen to learn more about the latest from the insurance tech space. I am happy to say, our stand and born-in-the-cloud platform got lots of attention. Having some big-name client logos, such as Gallagher and Howden, definitely made a difference from past years.
The conference featured keynote speeches, most notably from Steve White, who announced that after 10 years in the role he would be stepping down as BIBA chief executive. Everyone agrees he leaves the organisation stronger than ever.
The agenda spoke of a wide range of topics, covering the ever-growing regulatory challenges, managing emerging risks, cyber security, platform interoperability, customer excellence, and professional development for brokers.
Specialty brokers – in the know
I could have been because of my previous roles in the London Market, but I got a strong sense that there was an increased presence from the sector this year.
We all know the major incumbents who have a broking footprint in these markets, with Gallagher and Ardonagh again showing the sector their brands and direction of travel. Interestingly, this was also the first time Gallagher exhibited as a Retail group, not as the individual well-known brands of Deacon, Intasure, etc.
I also spoke to more traditional specialty brokers this year, looking to learn from outside of their day-to-day processes, from a more automated, electronically traded value chain, especially with the growing trend in the London Market of facilitated risks and lineslips for the higher volume, lower premium books of business.
One of the markets friendliest of brokers, Max Odlum of CJ Coleman, said to me, “BIBA is such a great way to make new connections and learn about the developments in the Retail sector. The fact that brokers are encouraged to attend such a large event for free makes it a really attractive proposition for brokers in the Specialty space and gives us a great way to meet with existing clients and find new opportunities.”
The bigger picture
A major hot topic right now across the industry is ESG (Environmental, Societal, and Governance), and there was much said about it, including this BIBA report. Zing365 presented an excellent session highlighting that ESG is not a catch-all and that we cannot think about one without the other(s). Whilst many organisations understand the wider impact of the ‘E’, we all need to be paying more attention to the Social, Governance elements, in particular, reducing the protection gap, company tax strategies, and transparent pay reporting.
More regulation is coming, so be prepared.
For me, the standout session of the event was Thursday morning’s keynote, chaired by Fearne Cotton, discussing mental resilience. Many of the audience were not expecting such an open and inspirational discussion from the panel and, fair to say, so much emotional input from the audience at the end.
Mental health and resilience are such important topics, particularly off the back of Covid. Today, end-customers feel that the world is back to normal and high levels of service are expected from call centres/staff, etc. In reality, however, people are still working in hybrid mode and there is a big disparity between expectation and reality of teams.
Companies who drive an open and engaging culture are clearly going to produce better service to their customers. Some firms are actively getting their teams back into the office, whilst others are still in a phase of transition, seeing the benefits of a more flexible approach.
There is no right or wrong here, but there are some areas clearly suffer without an on-site model of on-the-job training to expand knowledge and share insights within a collaborative culture.
Whilst I am a very big fan of the hit HBO show ‘Industry’, BIBA’s Young Broker Day did a far friendlier and engaging set of sessions on the topic of the world of work in insurance.
The issue of talent acquisition and succession planning has been a hot topic in more recent years in the London Market, and whilst many organisations are making great strides, I always feel that the Retail sector seems to have a better grasp on the issue.
Naturally, the regional offices offer a wider, physical opportunity to people across the UK, unlike the London Market with it’s Lloyd’s nucleus.
The retail sector seems well engaged with the next generation of insurance specialists, with access to local talent from varying levels of education.
I can attest to this myself, growing up in Bournemouth my route into the insurance sector was through the retail space, with the likes of Liverpool Victoria, Rias and AJ Gallagher brands like Insure 4 Retirement and Deacons).
And last, but by no means least: regulation! The stringent requirements now demanded by the FCA across the insurance sector are proving to be a challenge for everyone, but more so for the smaller brokers, which can be less well-resourced in compliance and without the financial capability for enterprise data and reporting tools.
With the Consumer Duty changes coming into effect from July 2023, ESG reporting for smaller firms and the expected improvements to mental health training / reporting from the government is a very real and tangible issue that the UK market is facing, despite the fantastic lobbying work BIBA does on its behalf.
How can Novidea help?
Fortunately, Novidea is well placed to support our customers with many of these focus areas, including 360 views of your portfolios with intelligent insight features out of the box, supporting a changing workforce where broking on the move is as important as ever, and easy to configure regulatory reporting for the FCA.
Novidea’s born-in-the-cloud broker platform offers clients and their policyholders access to UX-focused interfaces, complex scheme rating, and a platform that manages everything from enquiry through to financial billing.
If you would like to know more, feel free to get in touch and see what Novidea could do for your business.