Biba and IIB reach merger agreement

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The leaders of the British Brokers' Association and the Institute of Insurance Brokers have this morning announced a "momentous" merger agreement in a bid to produce a combined stance on future regulatory changes.

The arrangement between the two major trade bodies will result in IIB chief executive Barbara Bradshaw moving across to the Biba Executive where she has been handed specific responsibility for developing a new group focused on issues that affect smaller firms.

Joining Bradshaw, who will now be expected to report to Biba chief executive Eric Galbraith, on the new look board will be former high-profile IIB directors Barry Fehler, deputy chairman of South Essex Insurance Brokers, Bryan Whicher, head of retail professional indemnity at Oamps UK, and Robert Pybus, director of NPA Insurance.

Explaining the motives behind the merger, Galbraith said: "We have always strongly believed that one voice within the broking sector is needed and I believe that it is for the benefit of the sector that both organisations come together.

"One association, and one voice, will add strength to our lobbying campaigns on the big issues affecting our members. Next year is a very important year for brokers and BIBA will, of course, continue to focus on representing members on the forthcoming regulation changes and the review of the FSCS."

The partnership, which will see the two broking associations operate under the "Biba banner", is expected to bring together more than 2000 UK members, with Galbraith has championing the expertise of the former IIB board members in dealing with smaller operations.

He added: "Because of their backgrounds the new directors will have a focus on the smaller members and could in fact join a committee or focus group that is going to examine that area and see what else we need to do for the future."

Bradshaw was equally optimistic about the impact a "combined voice" could potentially have on the industry amid a continually shifting economic and regulatory environment.

She said: "What is planned, as Eric has outlined, most certainly plays to IIB's strengths in its relationship with, and understanding of, the smaller insurance broking firms.

"I have long thought that one voice, and a strong voice at that, is needed to represent all sectors of the insurance broking market. Looking at the merger wearing a cost benefits analysis hat, taking out duplication of operations and capitalising on each other's strengths has a clear advantage for all."

Meanwhile, respective Biba and IIB chairmen Patrick Smith and Graham Gomm have also gone on record to praise the thought process behind the merger.

Smith said: "I'm delighted that the two representative bodies have come together. IIB has, over the years been a great and vociferous defender of the interests of the smaller broker and we look forward to reinforcing that focus in the combined body."

Gomm added: "As a founder member of the IIB and an insurance broker for a considerable time, I have seen the creation of a range of trade associations for brokers and intermediaries. The market has changed beyond recognition and if ever there was a need for one united front to represent all types of general insurance brokers it is now."

This piece originally appeared on COVER's sister title Post.

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