Jim O'Driscoll, scheme underwriting director at Canada Life Group Risk, shares his diary as he attends the 26th annual Insurope conference in Edinburgh
Insurope is an association of independent life insurance companies which provides employee benefit services to multinational companies across the world. Every two years it holds its general meeting and delegate conference, hosted by an associate insurer. This year's events were hosted by Canada Life in Edinburgh, and marked the tenth anniversary of Canada Life and Insurope's partnership, and Insurope's 40th anniversary.
Monday 19th May
An internal general meeting, attended solely by Insurope member companies, was held over the Monday and Tuesday leading up to the main delegate conference. This is the main opportunity for the network companies to get together to discuss key matters. We discussed issues such as the terms on which Insurope do business, reviewed activities of the last two years and confirmed the right mechanisms were in place for the future.
On Monday evening we made our way to the member companies welcome dinner held on the magnificent Royal Yacht Brittania. This was a great opportunity for the participating companies to discuss general issues and relax in fantastic surroundings. Everyone appreciated the unique venue, including the tour of the royal quarters and honeymoon suite.
Tuesday 20th May.
Following the day's internal business sessions, it was time to welcome all conference delegates at another impressive venue, Edinburgh Castle. After viewing the Scottish crown jewels, everyone sat down to dinner with a mixture of industry guests, consultants and Insurope partner companies on each table. This was a great evening with a good combination of business discussion and light-hearted conversation. The evening culminated with an unforgettable performance of the 16th Century military ceremony 'Beating the Retreat' from the Castle's 16-piece bagpipe and drummers band.
Wednesday 21st May
The following morning, Ian Gilmour, Canada Life's senior vice president and UK general manager, opened the proceedings by congratulating Insurope on reaching its 40th anniversary. He encouraged us to enjoy the distinguished platform of speakers on offer, as well as savour the delights of Edinburgh while we were there.
And distinguished they were. All the sessions were informative. Paul Howes, chief operating executive at Hewitt UK investment, started off the conference with a 'setting the scene' speech on, among other things, a review of past years, the current world economic situation and the rise of Asia in the market.
Lorna Macmillan from Hewlett Packard discussed 'The challenges of managing local benefits and integrating corporate philosophy and guidelines across Europe today'. This was an interesting talk which illustrated the place of employee benefits provision within Hewlett Packard.
Another fascinating talk was by Kevin Overbey, managing partner at Clearpoint in Seattle, which discussed 'Health management and consumerism - the future of cost control in the USA and worldwide'. Clearpoint works with companies on the implementation and management of healthcare programmes. This included a system that can track employee awareness and if employees are following a programme as intended, the cost of healthcare reduces. This was an eye-opening talk that demonstrated an innovative approach to employment health benefits.
Thursday 22nd May
The high standard of discussion and seminars continued into Thursday and the day kicked off with Ralph Turner, from ICI, speaking about 'Employee Benefits in 2018'. This offered a crystal-ball look into the potential future of employee benefits. After a short break, we heard a 'Review of an existing pooling strategy and putting a new implementation programme into practice' by Rich Orlov, global benefits finance and compliance, Kraft Foods Global. This discussed Kraft's commitment to pooling and the significant progressions they had made in this arena.
The conference finished with a gala dinner hosted by Canada Life at the grand Georgian stately home, Hopetoun House. The evening took a truly traditional Scottish turn, with a dinner of haggis accompanied by a wee dram of whisky, and traditional Scottish dancing. This evening was enjoyed by all and was a fantastic way to finish what was a highly interesting and enjoyable conference.
The general view of those attending the conference was that it had been of a high standard with quality speakers covering topics relevant to today's working environment.
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