At a glance
- Brokers enjoyed another fruitful conference as BIBA fever gripped Manchester
- Networking and business deals conducted
- BIBA debate focused on importance of the customer, SMEs and regulation
As the buzz dies down following another successful BIBA conference, brokers will be hoping that their sterling networking efforts over the course of the two-day event in Manchester will bring added business benefits in the coming months.
BIBA fever well and truly gripped Manchester Central and the feeling this year was one of getting down to business – with insurers’ stands, such as Zurich’s, garnering much attention from brokers eager to meet key insurance contacts.
“This year, BIBA was all about helping brokers meet their customer needs with a real focus on business,” said Louise Clark, Marketing Communications Manager for Commercial Broker Marketing at Zurich.
“The conference presented an exceptional opportunity for our teams to network and meet new brokers and discuss business opportunities across Personal Lines, SME and Mid Market.”
State of the industry
Of the 3,000 or so brokers at the conference, talk of the sluggish economic recovery and what it means for insurance intermediaries was never far away from conversation.
“Some of the sectors have been hit hard,” said one broker from Lockton. “We are bucking the trend with growth over the past five years, but a lot of other brokers are finding it a challenge this year.”
In Steve White’s opening address, the BIBA Chief Executive focused on the importance of the customer, SMEs – with the launch of the trade body’s Small Business Insurance for Dummies guide – and growing regulatory demands.
One broker, who welcomed White’s remarks, told Zurich Insider: “Customer service levels have suffered in recent times, as resources have been stretched and the burden of regulation has hit hard.”
BIBA, though, was busy trying to move the debate on and was urging the industry to work together to improve its reputation.
“Any debate around raising standards is a healthy debate,” White told BIBA delegates.
The chief executive of the trade body also called on the insurance industry never to turn consumers away if they cannot insure them.
This year, BIBA was all about helping brokers meet their customer needs with a real focus on business. The conference presented an exceptional opportunity for our teams to network and meet new brokers and discuss business opportunities across Personal Lines, SME and Mid Market
Louise Clark, Marketing Communications Manager for Commercial Broker Marketing at Zurich
“Let’s point them in the direction of someone who can help,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you do this? We can help facilitate it.”
Social media also played a more prominent role at the conference, as the general insurance industry begins to fully embrace the medium. You couldn’t walk round the venue without being confronted by rolling #biba2014 Twitter feeds.
Work and play
But it was not all work, with a mix of superheroes, Roman gladiators and golfing simulators dotting the venue.
The theme of BIBA 2014 may have been ‘Customer, Customer, Customer’, but as each day’s programme wound down the focus then became ‘Cocktails, Champagne, Carlsberg’ with a few sore heads being nursed the following day, and some stands offering hangover cures for delegates on the second morning.
“We enjoyed the networking opportunities, business focus and creativity of all the stands, as well as the energy and enthusiasm of the whole BIBA conference,” said Louise at Zurich.
Following its stint at London’s vast ExCel convention centre last year, the return to Manchester for the BIBA conference was a welcome one for most attendees. And while the doors to this year’s conference may have now shut, it is all set to kick off again in 12 months’ time, again at Manchester Central.
“We’ve had a fantastic two days here in Manchester for BIBA 2014 and we can’t wait to welcome you all again next year,” added White. “I’d like to thank everyone for attending and making it the biggest networking and business event for insurance broking in Europe.”