Taking the temperature of the 2024 BIBA Conference

Industry leaders weigh in on a record-breaking year

Taking the temperature of the 2024 BIBA Conference

Insurance News

By Mia Wallace

The 2024 British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) conference confirmed its reputation as the ‘Christmas of insurance’, delivering a record-breaking number of registrations - 9,616 – and welcoming the first keynote address of Graeme Trudgill (pictured) as CEO of BIBA.

Sharing their perspectives, industry veteran and first-time attendees alike pointed to the “energy”, “enthusiasm” and “excitement” that characterise the annual conference – with Alex Smith, technology practice manager at Chubb UK&I, noting that it offers the opportunity to meet more people in two days than is possible in an entire month in the City.

“It’s always great to see familiar faces, but also to have the chance to meet and greet new individuals,” said Danny Maleary, CEO at Pro MGA Solutions, who brought along the firm’s new business development representative Emily Lewis for her first ever BIBA conference. “It’s positive to see existing and well-known brands but I’m also really enjoying seeing lots of fresh and new brands which I think is exciting for the sector.

“There’s a great buzz about the room and everyone seems to be quite buoyant, they’re thinking out of the box about new opportunities and there’s some exciting new products out there. I think Graeme’s done a great job in his first year as BIBA CEO, delivering record attendance. There’s a lot of things to be excited about which I think is sending the right positive message out to the sector overall – whether you’re a client, insurer, reinsurer, MGA or a broker.”

What’s the mood of the broking market?

CEO of Pen Underwriting Tom Downey touched on the palpable excitement across the conference floor. The insurance industry evidently remains energetic, he said. A chance encounter with somebody he’d traded with some 30 years ago only affirmed his long-standing recognition of the importance of connections and relationships in the market in helping the industry to move forward.

Tim Bailey, CEO of Zurich UK emphasised the importance of the BIBA conference. While Zurich prides itself on having great relationships and continual contact with its brokers through the whole year, he said, the conference offers a tangible opportunity to have so many across the market come together in the same place and at the same time.

“It’s a really great chance to get feedback from our brokers, and to meet with all our partners and discuss how we can work even better together,” he said. “It’s such a productive couple of days and personally, I very much enjoy it.”

Managing director of Aviva Private Clients, Ann Owen, shared her delight at being part of BIBA 2024. It has been a very busy couple of years for Aviva’s private clients practice, which has announced two major acquisitions, she said, and to have the opportunity to get out into the market and get real facetime with so many brokers was a real highlight for her.

Spending quality time with key insurance market players

For Chris van der Kuyl and Fraser Edmond, chairman and CEO respectively, at Broker Insights, BIBA 2024 served as an effective way to take the temperature of the market. Edmond highlighted the professionalism across the conference hall and the enthusiasm for meaningful conversations about where the industry goes next.

The vibrancy of the conference served as a strong indicator that the era of working entirely from home is firmly in the past, van der Kuyl said, and you can really feel that everybody in the room wanted to be there and do business.

Getting the opportunity to spend quality time with so many across the market was a highlight of the conference for Jacqui Kelly, head of sales and distribution at Zurich UK.

“It’s not just about making the most of all your meetings and having all the ‘how is it going’ conversations but also about being able to feel the impact of what we’re doing on our broker partners right now,” she said. “We’ve come so far on our journey in terms of innovation and  development… and we know through a lot of our partners that they’re feeling those results.

“But when you’re here with every span of broker – whether it’s an independent regional broker or a large national – you realise our momentum is so strong. And that’s really humbling, it’s a proud moment to see how our work is resonating with them.”

Harnessing the power of feedback at BIBA 2024

Rebecca Gambrell, who joined Aviva as SME portfolio director in December 2023, touched on the “buzz” felt in Manchester Central during the conference. It was an opportunity to have a lot of fantastic conversations about building great solutions that help the industry evolve. As somebody who enjoys solving problems, she said, she relishes that approach – and deeply appreciated brokers offering insights.

Similarly, for Rob Fairs - product & channel director, SME, for RSA’s commercial lines business, the overriding theme of the conference was hearing about what matters most to brokers and acting on that feedback.

“It has been a great but intense few days, as it always is,” he said. “But it gives us a great opportunity to check in with the market and make sure we’re really delivering on what matters.”


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