Rebecca Aston and Hayley Brown reveal why customers are more likely than ever to ‘Choose Chartered’
Chartered status is important in its own right to all CII Chartered firms, as it is an indicator of the firm having achieved high standards and embodying the principles of the Chartered Ethos: Nurturing Knowledge, Serving Society and Client Centricity. It is also increasingly important to clients – who want the reassurance and added confidence that comes with choosing a firm who have publicly committed to the CII Code of Ethics, as well as the importance of placing the customer at the heart of everything they do.
To gain insight into what customers value about Chartered status, the CII run a biannual survey asking 500 consumers and 500 businesses key questions on how they feel about Chartered status and professionalism within insurance and personal finance.
Encouragingly, the latest survey (undertaken in Oct-Nov 2021) revealed that the number of consumers and businesses that would choose a Chartered firm has increased significantly by 7% from the previous survey (Mar 2021), rising from 69% to 76%.
There are a number of reasons for this increase in the propensity to ‘Choose Chartered’, including:
There has been an increased volume of consumers and businesses who have received professional financial or insurance advice within the last six months. These customers are more likely than others to choose a Chartered firm in the future.
There was a significant increase (from 37% to 46%) in consumers saying that one of the reasons they chose a Chartered firm was because the firm was recommended to them.
There was a significant increase (from 33% to 43%) in businesses saying that the reason they chose a Chartered firm was because they are associated with high professional standards, and that they are proven experts in their subject area (32% to 37%).
Therefore, a key reason for people choosing Chartered firms seems to be that they have recently received excellent service from a Chartered firm, or have been recommended to the firm by a friend/family member. Therefore, it is the work of Chartered firms in providing good service and demonstrating professionalism that is the key driver behind the increase in propensity to choose a Chartered firm.
Insurance is a profession of many specialisms, which can make it confusing for customers to navigate. Chartered status is an indication of quality, professionalism and customer centricity which can give customers confidence that they are getting a high standard of service in a sector that provides a large amount of choice.
To help customers navigate this market, the CII offers different Chartered titles within insurance to reflect the specialism of individual firms. For example, Higos have recently joined the CII Chartered insurance broker community and have acknowledged the difference that holding Chartered status will make to their customers as well as their business.
“We are proud to hold Chartered status with the CII and will continue to develop our business to maintain that status,” Matthew Hartigan, Chartered broker and managing director of Higos, told us. “This involves serious investment in our people, providing them with the development opportunities and professional support to enable them to provide the best possible advice to our clients.
“Having made our public statement of commitment to these professional standards, we will continue to invest in the ongoing development of staff and support wider initiatives that benefit society and the communities within which we operate. The benefits to our clients will flow naturally from this commitment and focus,” he said.
One of the largest CII Chartered firms in the UK is Aviva Commercial, who achieved the Chartered Insurer title in 2015. Owen Whelan, chief technical underwriter at Aviva Commercial, noted: “Chartered status demonstrates to customers the value Aviva places on professionalism across the commercial lines business and the commitment Aviva’s staff make to continue to develop as professionals. This is recognised by potential new customers as an additional benefit of our proposition.”
Becoming Chartered is not just important for large organisations. In 2020 the CII launched the Chartered Insurance Underwriting Agent title for managing general agent (MGA) firms who, until then, had not had a Chartered title available to them. This title enabled MGAs to attain Chartered status to further demonstrate their professionalism to their customers. Hive is one of the firms who have been awarded Chartered Insurance Underwriting Agent status since the launch of this new title, and have shared the value the title brings to their business:
Bruce Carman is chief underwriting officer of Hive Aero. He told us: “Hive enjoys a close association with the CII and is extremely proud to be accredited with the status of ‘Chartered Insurance Underwriting Agents’. We display the badge with honour as there can be no clearer testament to the professional standards and values we uphold here at Hive.”
It is clear that Chartered status brings benefits to both firms and customers – with the former valuing the status and support given to them from the CII, and the latter gaining access to a high-quality service.
The CII will continue to monitor the reasons why customers ‘Choose Chartered’, and to share insights with the CII Chartered community, but it is the hard work of Chartered firms – of all sizes and specialisms - which has resulted in a significant increase in the propensity of customers to choose or recommend a Chartered firm.
Rebecca Aston is professional standards manager and Hayley Brown is corporate development manager, both at the CII