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Reflections on the ABI Conference 2013

Otto_blogx268x317In my blog earlier this week I talked about the challenges facing the insurance industry. However, although our conference theme on Tuesday was 'Meeting the Challenges of a Changing World', the event itself felt full of energy and possibilities.

The ABI published its report 'Identifying the Challenges of a Changing World', a thought provoking view of the future from our Operations Director Huw Evans to help focus minds and prompt debate. This gave us a framework as the speeches and conference discussions looked towards the future and started to shape how we could respond as an industry.

A few days on, I have three key reflections from the day and I'll start with those before I look back over the event:

  1. That almost all the industry dialogue started with the consumer. This struck me as a big and positive change from my first ABI conference two years ago.
  2. That the political debate is at a very intense level and will only grow more intense as we move towards an election, for our industry as well as for the politicians at the heart of it.
  3. That there is a real opportunity for a long term partnership between industry and Government, whatever its persuasion, to reduce the liabilities of the welfare state if the industry is ready to grasp it.

'All leaders in their field'

Looking back over a very packed agenda, I am struck by how all our speakers were leaders in their field. Our Chairman, Tidjane Thiam opened the conference and spoke of the need to take a long-term view to be ready to compete successfully in the global marketplace.

BBC Political Editor, Nick Robinson, was humorous and engaging as he talked about the stark fact that politicians today can have little time for any approach which does not see them on the side of the man and woman in the street. This is the political backdrop against which we, as insurers, will be operating.

Gabriel Bernadino, Chairman of our European regulator, EIOPA talked about the importance of landing a good Solvency II directive, in the broader context of the need for risk-based prudential regulation, transparency, governance and enhanced supervision.

This led neatly into a panel discussion between Jon Hocking, Morgan Stanley, Nick Pearce, IPPR, Mary Trussell, KPMG and Nigel Wilson from L&G.

'The 2015 election race has certainly started'

Our two politicians, Oliver Letwin MP, Minister for Government Policy and Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls MP were both positive about the industry and the role it had to play in society. Oliver Letwin talked thoughtfully about his own dealings with the industry on issues such as flooding and long-term care. I thought his message about the Government setting the right framework for insurers to deliver solutions for society was a really positive one for insurers.

Ed Balls highlighted the importance of insurers as investors and said a Labour Government would look to support the industry fiscally and through regulatory decisions. The race to be elected in 2015 has certainly started.

'Responding to changing expectations'

My turn on stage was as part of a panel discussion on how the industry could fulfil its potential in society. I thoroughly enjoyed debating with Kamal Ahmed from the Sunday Telegraph, James Barty of Policy Exchange, Drew Fellowes of KPMG, Lord Hutton and Dame DeAnne Julius.

While the point was made that politicians need to be honest about the limitations of the state and that it is inevitable that private provision will have to make up the difference, there is a big challenge for the industry to respond to changing expectations and the potential created by new technology to deliver what consumers want and help them take charge of their futures.

Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the Prudential Regulatory Authority and Martin Wheatley, Chief Executive of the Finanical Conduct Authority brought a long, and thought-provoking, day to a close reviewing the first 100 days of the new 'twin peaks' regulatory structure and stressing a desire to work closely with the industry.

As I said, this conference felt full of energy and possibilities. Whether the industry takes full advantage of those possibilities is largely in its hands.

From the ABI YouTube Channel

Last updated 29/06/2016