July 15, 2015

Like Custer rallying his dwindling band of blue-clad trigger happy horse soldiers as the redskins circled, scenting the blood of the palefaces, the BIBA bigwigs have once again acted decisively to heal divisions in the UK broker ranks and thus present a united front in the face of slow-motion annihilation.

Just as the late lamented Eric Gallbreath chose the occasion of the 2011 BIBA show (see previous coverage) to reel in hard core Paddickites and announce that BIBA would be snapping up the rump of the IIB to become BIIIBBA (BIBA for short), so current BIBA top man Steve Wipe has announced this year that talks are afoot aimed at scooping up the tattered remnants of breakaway standard setters the IBS Council.

Regular readers will recall how the IBS Council was set up in the spring of last year with the aim of setting new standards for what it means to be a professional insurance broker or a practicing insurance broker or something, in roughly the same way that Paul “Grey Goblin” Weller’s Style Council was set up in the 1980s to set new (and not necessarily definitive) standards for what it meant to be stylish in a vanilla-soul Man at C&A inflected way.

Back then BIBA welcomed a fresh contribution to the debate on brokers standards, suggesting playfully that the IBS boys might want to come back and have a proper chat on the subject when they had two thousand members and a stonking great annual conference in Manchester every year.

Just to make sure, Steve Wipe referred extensively in his keynote speech  at last year’s BIBA show to the objective of raising standards, outlining what he called a pragmatical pathway towards this goal.

This led, via extensive consultation with BIBA’s vast membership, to the creation of a so-called Highway to Higher Standards, since translated into a Voluntary Code of Conduct for Brokers, which sensibly “codifies existing requirements rather than creating new obligations.”

With the wind knocked thoroughly out of its sails, the IBS Council now looks set to throw in its lot with BIBA in the quest for “a single voluntary code of conduct and guidance for insurance brokers”, a process due for finalisation in time for BIBA 2016.

A cynic might suggest that the resulting document is likely to look rather similar to BIBA’s current optional code, a document which, as FCA chief exec Dennis Wheatley recently pointed out, basically “echoes our own Principles for Business.”

But Bankstone News for one, simply can’t wait to find out what the combined BIBA/IBS Council non-compulsory code will look like when we all reconvene in Manchester for BIBA 2016.


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