April 10, 2014

It’s a little known fact that insurance community pillar Barbara Bradshaw of fashion label BIBA was once a member of a militant small brokers’ group that fought a bitter campaign against the association she now represents.

The name of that group, as legend recalls, was the Institution for Insurance Brokers, or IIB for short. Alongside the IIB’s redoubtable leader Andrew “Monty” Paddick, Bradshaw fought passionately for many years for the rights of smaller brokers (vast herds of which used once to run free across the Great British plains).

When she took over the reins of the IIB in 2008, Bradshaw, who is not now and never has been known, affectionately or otherwise, as Babs, paid tribute to Paddick and, in particular, his shoes, noting that they would be impossible to fill, even assuming anybody wanted to, which, she insisted, they wouldn’t.

Certainly anyone who expected Not-Babs to follow in the no-surrender footsteps trodden by those hallowed shoes might initially have felt confused and disappointed when she appeared, seemingly loved up in Cameron-Clegg Rose Garden style, alongside BIBA’s then chief exec Eric Gall Breath (there’s one we missed in our roster of famous Erics) at the BIBA conference in 2011 to unleash the bombshell that they planned to ‘merge’.

After getting over its initial shock, however, the insurance world quickly forgot that IIB ever existed or what all the fuss had been about. But exist it most definitely did until – in some sense – as it now appears – very recently indeed. New evidence suggests that some vestige or residue of the IIB continued a semi-independent existence within the bowels of BIBA for several years.

The IIB’s lingering half-life came to light when Not-Babs’ move to a “consultancy role” within BIBA, was presented to the world this week as occurring “following the full integration of IIB into Biba and the completion of the governance workstream of Biba’s strategic review”.

Bradshaw herself sounded pleased and surprised to be involved still, now that IIB has been fully digested, commenting: “I’m delighted to still be playing an important role at Biba”.

Her current boss Steve “Walter” White welcomed her continued presence, noting that her passion for small brokers is “incredible” and that BIBA is no longer the big-broker-focused monolith against which Monty and Not-Babs originally took up arms, because “we are all confident that we now have the right governance structure in place to fully represent all members, not least the smaller ones.”

Mission accomplished, then.

Although cynics might say it’s a bit late to start representing small brokers now, seeing as they’re so thin on the ground ‘n’ all.

Barbara Bradshaw, IIB 14? October 2008


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