Matt Hall reflects on the Society of Insurance Broking's second year -- which has proved to be a test like no other
In September, the Society of Insurance Broking (SIB) will mark its second birthday. This time last year, I wrote a similar article reviewing our first 12 months, but where to begin looking back at this year, one that was turned on its head halfway through?
By March, Covid-19 had already started to have a widespread impact on the broking profession and our members. It was evident immediately that the priority had to be supporting our members during a difficult time. In an environment where so much was beyond our control, we focused on our core objectives -- by providing our members with knowledge, skills and insight, we could ensure they were best equipped to navigate the challenging business environment and, crucially, achieve the best outcomes for their clients.
At the end of March, we launched our 'Coronavirus Hub': a destination for insurance brokers who wanted to access news, learning and CPD in one place. Two distinct areas of interest emerged. Our members were hungry for technical knowledge, from the latest Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) updates to business interruption (BI) and the impact on motor and property.
As popular were the new professional skills our members needed to grasp quickly -- working remotely, managing and motivating teams, mental health
As weeks turned to months in lockdown, we started to investigate more specific issues -- new customer vulnerabilities began to rapidly emerge, financial difficulties increased for millions across the UK, and scams and fraud increased, using coronavirus as an emotional lever. We investigated the implications of unoccupied commercial properties, and the obligations of the employer to a workforce based at home full-time, while also reissuing our updated Good Practice Guidance on surge events.
The BI debate began to gather pace, and we ensured our members could stay informed with different perspectives and opinions: from customer and public expectations; through to policy wordings and the FCA test case.
Depending on who you speak to and in which insurance class, we are either approaching or are already in a hard insurance market. As such, we have published learning to help members manage difficult conversations, emphasise the value of professional advice and improve their sales and renewals. Our 'Mastering Conversion' webinar series was one of the most popular ever.
As I write this in August, we begin to see a return to a world that can be considered more stable than a few months ago. We have therefore begun to look beyond the here and now, examining the long-term financial and economic impact of the pandemic and the ways it will change our ways of working. We have seen a huge increase in demand for and consumption of webinars and podcasts, while a more accessible website means members can find them more easily.
It is hard to predict how all this will turn out for the broking profession, but in the past few months many examples and conversations have only emphasised to me the importance of insurance to society -- both the rewards of getting it right and the risks of getting it wrong. The value of clear professional advice to businesses and individuals is only likely to increase in the months ahead; and we will be there to ensure our members are supported on what will undoubtedly be a long road to recovery. The SIB is a professional community for insurance brokers and, to use a clichÃ© of the pandemic, 'now more than ever' this is what the sector needs.
Matt Hall is strategy and operations manager at the CII