Emma Ann Hughes reflects on the launch of the new Chartered insurance underwriting agent aimed at supporting the growth of the MGA sector
Managing General Agents (MGA's) are one of the fastest-growing segments of the insurance profession. They carry the authority and responsibility to perform many functions that are ordinarily handled only by insurers. These usually include binding authorities, underwriting and pricing, appointing retail agents and settling claims.
According to the Managing General Agents Association (MGAA), more than 300 MGAs currently underwrite about 10% of the UK's £47bn general insurance market premiums. The trade body expects demand for MGAs and their importance to the insurance profession will continue to grow in the years to come.
Since it was formed in 2011, the MGAA and its board of directors and specialist committees have been focused on shaping the future of delegated underwriting in the UK.
That is why the MGAA supported the CII's work to create a modern and relevant professional pathway for those working for MGAs today, along with its initiatives to attract fresh talent to the sector.
This work culminated in the launch of the CII's Chartered Insurance Underwriting Agent title, which was unveiled at the Lloyd's Library in March. MGAs at the event heard the benefits that this sector would derive, if individuals and firms strive for the new title.
A survey of existing Chartered firms by ComRes in 2016 found 90% of them agreed Chartered status had enhanced the perception of the business as a professional organisation for new staff. A total of 67% of Chartered firms polled said the status helped attract new staff.
As a swiftly growing sector, a Chartered title can make a real difference to MGAs.
At the launch event, MGAA managing director Peter Staddon said: "This new title proves the professionalism of this sector and shows the consistency of what we do and why we do it. This status should support growth and help in delivering innovation and succession planning for the sector.
"Getting this new Chartered status to reflect what we do is great. Public trust will swell because it shows we are doing this voluntarily."
A Chartered firm is accredited by a professional body, invests in people, exceeds minimum regulatory standards, commits to an ethical code of conduct but also gives back to society and the profession
IMPACT OF CHARTERED
So, how can Chartered status improve the professionalism of the MGA sector and ensure the individuals working in it are going above and beyond to deliver for consumers?
And how does Chartered status encourage fresh faces to consider becoming an MGA?
Steve Jenkins, development director of the CII, said research shows the end consumer and those contemplating their career understand Chartered practices are committed to ethics and keeping the knowledge and expertise of their workforce up to date.
When the end consumer is looking for financial or insurance advice, 80% of 500 consumers surveyed by the Institute of Customer Services in September 2019 were looking for a Chartered firm.
Mr Jenkins said: "A Chartered firm is bold and proud enough to make a public declaration of what it stands for when it comes to professional standards. These firms invest in their people more than they are required to do so.
"Today, organisations must play a broader role and be aware of responsibility to serve society. To bring the corporate Chartered ethos to life, we provide guidance and support to firms so that they are living and breathing this status. The guidance we provide enables them to put in place people development.
"A Chartered firm is accredited by a professional body, invests in people, exceeds minimum regulatory standards, commits to an ethical code of conduct but also gives back to society and the profession."
Mr Jenkins explained that the criteria to achieve corporate Chartered insurance underwriting agent status focuses on leadership qualifications and membership, the core make-up of the workforce, commitment to professional development, alignment with the CII's Code of Ethics, plus their established trading history.
To achieve corporate Chartered status, at least one board member must hold a Chartered title and the board must be CII members. On top of this, 90% of the MGA business's core staff must be CII members.
MGAs at the launch event for the Chartered insurance underwriting agent title agreed the new status would help the sector to grow, nurture and retain talent.
Philip Williams, managing director and MGA at Simply Business and the first individual to be awarded the Chartered insurance underwriting agent title, said he believed the changing shape of the insurance market means it is likely that more MGAs will be needed in the next few years.
He said: "If you are serious about writing good quality insurance in the right kind of way, why wouldn't you consider trying to achieve this title? We are living through a time with huge skills change. I would urge firms to sign up to this." To find out how to achieve Chartered insurance underwriting agent status, visit: cii.co.uk/eligibility-criteria
Emma Ann Hughes is communications director of the CII