Steadfast CEO and managing director Robert Kelly has called for an alignment between the codes of practice that brokers and insurers adhere to, stating that brokers are at times offered products which contravene their obligations.
During a panel discussion on broking best practices at the Annual NIBA Convention with Angela Whitbread, managing director of Whitbread Insurance brokers, Keith McIvor, chief broking officer at Austbrokers Group, and Gary Seymour, group CEO of PSC Insurance Group, the conversation turned to building a good reputation.
Kelly suggested that brokers were often caught in a difficult situation in attempting to secure the right products for their clients.
“It annoys me that there is a code of practice for insurance brokers but there isn’t one for insurers that deal with brokers. On one side you have insurers who can make offers to brokers that are completely juxtaposed to the obligations that an insurance broker has when he offers his products to a client.”
Kelly said that brokers were held accountable in taking the offering, rather than the insurer that provided it.
“Until we get the codes aligned, so sanctions go both ways in case something goes wrong, we are blowing in the wind,” he added. “I think the Code is sensational but it needs some reciprocation in its sanctions back to the insurer. They should understand that when they offer something that is not what a broker should do under the Code of practice and their financial services licence.
Concluding the discussion on reputation, compère Dr June Smith, CEO of the Code Compliance Monitoring Committee, said the Codes of both NIBA and the ICA are currently in transition.
When the debate moved on to the impact of technology McIvor warned that “ignoring [technology] will be at our peril.”
Whitbread said she envisaged technology moving on from automated phone systems to an era of voice recognition and computers giving advice.
“This is the future. We need to adapt and we need to ask questions as to how we are going to survive in this new environment,” she added.
However, Kelly said technology will never replace people. “Technology is a tool. People still want to talk to people. Once that decision making process is done through talking then you can facilitate whatever you want through a technological solution. We are a relationships based industry.”