November 8, 2012

BIBA chairman Andrew “Andy” Homer is clearly a man who thinks a lot about being in good shape. Regular readers will recall his gushing enthusiasm over the “excellent shape” in which hard man CEO Eric Gallbreath is leaving the broker body sometime soon.

This week, Homeboy’s shape-related musings turned to BIBA itself. Tired and stiff from gazing into its own navel, BIBA recently asked consultants Deloitte to take a peek and come back with some thoughts and observations. The findings of this “strategic review” might best be described as mixed, raising what Homes accepted were “some key points” that BIBA now needs to “review and possibly strengthen in order to be in the best shape for the future.”

Let’s face it, if you want to stay in shape, a little point strengthening never does any harm. Whether more reviewing is what’s called for, however, might be more of a moot point. But the Homester was adamant: “Extensive consultation and discussion with all groups of members will now be carried out. It’s an inclusive review and all members will have a voice.

“This is an important review and we are going to take time to speak to members,” he insisted, adding reassuringly that the BIBA bigwigs are going to “make sure that we get it right.” BIBA has now apparently resolved to form a steering committee and draw up a timetable for doing some more consultation and then probably a bit more analysis, without neglecting, of course, to consult fully with its members.

Meanwhile, now that they know he’s on his way out, the powers that be at BIBA have apparently sent lame duck CEO Eric Gallbreath to Coventry. Whilst there, he took the opportunity to drop in on Insurance Ague’s Broker Exposé event and to read a few bizarrely haphazard words lovingly prepared for him by BIBA’s PRs to a literally fascinated throng of merrily waving well-wishers.

Gallbreath had his audience hooked from the minute he began with the stirring averral that, like Sterne’s Tristram Shandy perhaps, BIBA has “a fantastic story to tell”. In the course of a wide-ranging speech, which most observers agreed was quite long, he read out one particularly moving passage in which he argued that since “the language the government is talking about is growth” Dave Cameron and chums should help brokers grow by freeing them of “the shackles of regulation”.

As the cheers died down, however, he appeared to backtrack a bit, reassuring brokers that incoming regulators the FCA are really not that bad and “want to work with us” and “engage with us and our members.”

Just so long as they leave their shackles at the door!


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