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Train to win

Looking back over my year as president of the Chartered Insurance Institute, Winston Churchill’s words ring in my ears: “Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”

My tenure coincided with one of the biggest shifts in regulation for the financial advice sector – the retail distribution review – and also with the credit crunch which brought economic gloom.

Against this somewhat stormy backdrop, I hope that my presidential themes of professionalism and reputation have provided an appropriate keynote for the CII’s ongoing engagement with the Government, consumers and regulators.

Through the publication of a series of position papers and continual lobbying by and on behalf of members of the Personal Finance Society, more practitioners are adapting to the changing environment, embracing higher levels of qualification and attaining chartered status.

Never before have so many professional bodies in our industry worked so closely together to achieve a common goal. The CII, inspirationally led by chief executive Sandy Scott, broke crucial new ground with the so-called Edinburgh declaration in which we led a number of professional bodies in agreeing a common framework for professionalism. This is the first time that such an agreement has been struck between professional bodies.

Our involvement in the FSA interim feedback statement led the regulator to invite the CII to become part of its working group on professionalism through which we will continue to work to shape the outcomes of the RDR.

As I have said before, we must train to win in this internationally competitive market. We have engaged with opinion-formers to this end, hosting a number of skills-related events including a discussion with minister for skills David Lammy, a debate with representatives from all three main political parties including minister for lifelong learning Bill Rammell and a business forum with Qualifications and Curriculum Authority chief executive Ken Boston.

We have also sought the views of our members regarding the state of skills in our sector. The findings have generated much press interest and comment and have helped us to shape our skills policy, including our firstever skills manifesto.

I have always believed passionately that we must all strive throughout our working lives to better ourselves. Education and financial literacy must be central to this great industry and, as immediate past president, I shall continue to champion their role and development. Visiting many of the regional institutes, I was struck by the warmth and dedication of the people involved in this industry.

The CII graduation ceremony at the Guildhall this year was the biggest ever such event and I was overwhelmed by the diverse nature of the graduates attaining such success.

The CII Talent Initiative Big Ideas final demonstrated that the financial services sector can and does attract the creme de la creme of the world’s finest universities.

As a thought-leader and as a guarantor of quality in the insurance sector, the CII is now and deservedly truly pre-eminent.

I feel privileged to have played my small part in that ongoing success story and look forward to further successes now my good friend Trevor Matthews is taking up the reins.

We have the tools – let us use them.


A light out of the dark ages

I remember some years ago one of the major providers – well “major” may be pushing my literary licence somewhat – you know, the one who bought two or three of the traditional Scottish firms in the late 1990s.


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