Matthew Hall reveals how the insurance Societies and Networks have been responding to changes in the way we work
The insurance Societies and networks have continued to support our members during this challenging time. With restrictions beginning to ease, our sector-specific professional communities have begun to look ahead to the future.
Our local institute network continues to provide members with high-quality digital continuing professional development (CPD), while it has been great to see social events adapting to the virtual world, with online quizzes, virtual coffee mornings, and even yoga and mindfulness sessions.
The Society of Insurance Broking is working hard to equip our members with the skills and knowledge for the challenges ahead. A hardening market is challenging for most in insurance, but for a generation of young brokers it will be the first time they will have had to deal with it. A recent 'sales masterclass' webinar series focused on one of the most fundamental skills in the sector: communication. From having difficult conversations to emphasising the value of professional advice, the series has also considered how to generate leads, win business and maintain profitable business -- while maintaining high professional standards and securing the best outcomes for clients.
Meanwhile, the Society of Underwriting Professionals has been looking at how technology is shaping the sector's response to the pandemic. Even before coronavirus, digitalisation and automation have been a key theme for the Society and, unfortunately, this has not always been in a positive context. It has been refreshing to see some of the ways our underwriting members have adapted to provide risk assessments, including the use of drones as just one example. Of course, policy wordings and scope of cover continue to be hot topics, with demand for genuine comprehensive cover increasing. As a subject so critical to public trust, the Society will continue to explore the issues and themes around this in the months ahead.
Finally, the Society of Claims Professionals continues to consider issues around remote working. It is fair to say some organisations have faced considerable challenges in this regard, in particular large call centre operations suddenly having to deliver their services with their staff at home. A series of articles from members of the board has looked at culture and approaches within different firms and a common thread runs through all of them -- put your staff first. All will be experiencing different feelings and emotions about the situation, they will have different attitudes to risk, to the social component of their job, and different perspectives on how their productivity can be maximised. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so it is crucial that return-to-work policies and procedures are produced in consultation with the workforce.
I, for one, am certainly looking forward to returning to the office. Coronavirus may finally banish 'presenteeism' culture and the adaptability we have all demonstrated during this time should be embraced and continued. However, with many different colleagues and stakeholders, success in my role is built on relationships and it feels there is only so far Zoom and Teams can take us.
A few weeks ago, I had the unusual experience of hosting an exhibition booth at a virtual broking conference. It was enjoyable to meet lots of new members and I was able to connect with many different people. Even so, it was very hard to replicate the social aspect that a physical event provides. Perhaps then, virtual events will complement and provide an alternative to the 'real' thing, but never really replace them.
Matthew Hall is strategy and operations manager of CII insurance Societies and Networks