In September IBA and PIBA merged to form Brokers Ireland. Brendan Spring was Project Manager for this historic merger.

As a consequence, Hazel Rock, Marketing Manager, Brokers Ireland sat down with Brendan to discuss this.

Congratulations Brendan for the part you played in bringing IBA and PIBA together to form Brokers Ireland.

Thanks Hazel, but it was a big team effort – I was just the facilitator.

Tell me a bit about how it came to pass.

Former PIBA Chairman Donal Milmo-Penny, PIBA CEO Diarmuid Kelly, IBA CEO Ciaran Phelan and I had several “teasing out” conversations about a possible merger when I was IBA President, and we decided to continue those informal discussions until we reached a conclusion. We felt that there were no reasons why we shouldn’t convert Brokers Ireland (which we had set up for joint submissions, lobbying, and so on) into a fully-fledged merged entity. We then brought the concept to both Boards who were immediately fully supportive of the idea and gave us the green light to bring a proposal to the membership.

It’s no great secret that proposals to merge had failed on a few occasions over the years, so why did the two Boards feel this was worth pursuing?

I think it was because we came with a properly constructed plan that had looked at the reasons for failure in the past, we had new proposals to overcome those deal-breakers, and we had a hard-working Steering Group of the four people mentioned above to which we added the then Chairperson of PIBA and President of IBA; Roisin Clarke and Aidan McLoughlin.

So, your team managed it to the point where you could bring a proposal to merge, to the IBA and PIBA AGMs. And both AGMs passed it last May by huge majorities. Why did the members buy in so completely?

The Steering Group decided that both organisations should engage in a comprehensive communication process, listen to

members, understand their concerns and fears, take on board their constructive suggestions and come back with answers. We did exactly that and covered all matters from HR to I.T., Corporate Governance to Branding & Marketing, and indeed everything else. When we listened, we found that the most important thing the members wanted was balance.

By balance you mean ensuring neither body would have a greater input over the other in the new entity?

Exactly Hazel. But balance was about many things. As you say, we had to get the balance right vis-à-vis IBA versus PIBA, but also Life versus General, Dublin versus regional, large Broker versus small Broker etc. Essentially, every member needed to see that they would have a platform to have their voice heard and I’m happy that we delivered that.

So how will members benefit from the merger?

The merger will give the members one clear powerful voice. In addition, IBA and PIBA are pooling our Human and Financial resources, we are producing greater cost efficiencies and savings, and eliminating unnecessary duplication. Most importantly from a member’s perspective, we will deliver the best of both organisations and provide deeper specialisation to our members.

What’s the next step?

Between now and Christmas we’ll concentrate on bedding down all aspects of Brokers Ireland, providing member services on our “business as usual” platform, and selecting specific strategic objectives to get our teeth into over the short, medium, and long-term.

Once again Brendan, congratulations to your Steering Group and best wishes for the bedding in process and for the future of Brokers Ireland.