At the beginning of March, the Association was proud to support the launch of a brand-new Chartered title developed in partnership with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). The Chartered Insurance Underwriting Agent designation has been created especially for the delegated authority sector and will allow firms and individuals to demonstrate their commitment to professionalism and high standards by applying or converting an existing Chartered title to this exciting new dedicated designation.
Some may ask why the industry needs another Chartered title? Well the simple answer is that MGAs do not comfortably fit the criteria for either the insurer or broker Chartered titles. While many of our individual members already hold Chartered titles, I myself have been a Chartered Insurance Practitioner for many years, MGAs and those working within them did not have, until now, their own designation to act as a mark of professional excellence and commitment to ethical conduct.
MGAs are now an important presence in the UK insurance market, in fact according to our estimates the over 300 MGAs account for over 10% of the premiums written in UK. As such a significant sector of the market, I believe it is just as important for MGAs to receive recognition for their commitment to ethical and high-quality service as any other business.
Chartered status has long been recognised by customers and businesses as the strongest evidence that a firm is committed to professional practice and it signifies a long-term investment in developing and maintaining the skills and technical capabilities of its employees. For MGAs this means having in place an appropriate professional development programme, embedded core values and business practices, a diversity & inclusion policy, and clear corporate social responsibility principles. All these elements point to a business that takes the development and care of its employees and treating customers fairly, very seriously. Practically speaking, to achieve the designation, MGA businesses must have at least three years of trading experience, 90% of staff involved in underwriting processes must be members of the CII and at least one member of the board or management team must hold the Chartered Insurance Underwriting Agent title.
I’ve been extremely pleased with the level of support so far from our members. Since the idea of developing a new Chartered title was first discussed with them, there has been real enthusiasm about the chance to achieve Chartered status. To date, we have already seen three of our members receive the title; Geo Underwriting, Manchester Underwriting and Simply Business were all officially awarded their title at our launch event. When I spoke to our chairman, Charles Manchester, about his firm achieving Chartered status, he reiterated how important this status was. For him it represents trust, and the trust of his employees, brokers and customers.
In addition, we’ve seen our first individual qualify for the title, the managing director of Simply Business MGA, Philip Williams. In an interview with Insurance Business he talked about how pleased he was to personally have a title that reflects what he does, instead of a “generic” Chartered Insurer title, and for the wider business the importance of this badge of honour that matches its commitment to a code of ethics towards its staff and the sector. This is the sentiment of many of our members who are keen to receive proper representation and recognition as professionals in the industry. As I write, we have a further cohort of firms going through the process of achieving Chartered status and I expect to see many more firms and individuals making that commitment in the coming months.
The launch of a dedicated Chartered title is an important step forward for the MGA market and a clear indicator of its vital role in the industry. I’m hopeful our community will take the opportunity to demonstrate its focus on the highest standards and its commitment to furthering the reputation of MGAs.