Legislation and compliance issues are of concern to all Brokers – large and small, life and general. Experience of working together for joint submissions on regulatory matters has shown that IBA and PIBA have been on the same page for many of the issues that they have jointly addressed with the Central Bank and with government departments.
In the end it was a landslide, with votes of close to 100% on each side. The ringing endorsement of merger proposals from members of PIBA and the IBA made it clear that this was a proposal they definitely wanted to see happen: perhaps the feeling was that it should have happened some time ago.
Now the challenge is in making the merger work for all Irish Brokers, and that means recognising the differences as well as the commonalities that apply across our 1,300 member firms. Broadly speaking, there are three different sectors within the merged entity:
• Financial Brokers (approx. 1,000)
• Insurance Brokers (approx. 400)
• Corporate or Large Brokers (approx. 50).
There are significant overlaps between these sectors, but they are distinct sectors nonetheless. Each sector has different business focuses and models of operation and different concerns and issues that need to be dealt with and represented through a combined Brokers Ireland structure.
However there is a high degree of commonality and shared concerns between all sectors. Legislation and compliance issues are of concern to all Brokers – large and small, life and general. Experience of working together for joint submissions on regulatory matters has shown that IBA and PIBA have been on the same page for many of the issues that they have jointly addressed with the Central Bank and with government departments.
PR is another area where all Brokers share a common interest in promoting the role and value of independent advice.
It is a strategic priority to enhance the PR and lobbying function of Brokers Ireland and a merger will provide enhanced resources to make this possible. The elimination of duplication of work by staff and committees will also make for a more coherent and focussed single voice for the Irish Broker market and this is a core benefit that the merger will bring for Brokers Ireland members.
SME Insurance and Financial Brokers tend to rely on a trade body for services like compliance support, CPD, business development schemes, etc. The intention with the merger is to
deliver the best of both PIBA and IBA services to the combined membership and use economies of scale to improve these services further. The human resources when combined will allow for deeper specialisation in various areas of the new Association.
Representation is another key area for Brokers, especially in the SME sector. A single unitary structure will avoid ‘divide and conquer’ and will give a powerful representative voice for Irish Brokers in dealing with providers and other institutions.
The combination of expertise from all sectors of the Broker market will significantly enhance the standing and presence of Brokers Ireland in all aspects of its work. This will work to the advantage of all members – life and general, SME and large.
Different sectors – Insurance Brokers (general), Financial Brokers (life, pensions, investments and mortgages) and Corporate Brokers – will have dedicated committees to pursue sectoral interests within the combined structure. These committees will feed into and inform the work of the overall Board of Directors. The overall Board will be a balanced representation of the membership without being filled in a mechanical or rota way.
If there are conflicts of interest or competition for resources between different sectors of the membership, it is the role of the Board to resolve these in a democratic way, i.e. to listen to different arguments in an inclusive fashion and to seek resolution, ideally by compromise, but acting in the best interests of the majority of members with due respect to minority interests.
In summary the merger will give:
• Greater resources and staff
• More expertise and deeper specialisation
• Greater cohesion
• Better PR and lobbying
• A more powerful voice in the industry
• Stronger services
• Greater standing and presence in the market
• Greater financial strength.
It is an honour to serve as your CEO of Brokers Ireland and I commit to bringing the full resources of the new body to work for the benefit of all the membership.