Once again the UK dissolves into chaos and anarchy, writes Alasdair Stewart, head of business development, general insurance, at the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). No, not the student protests, but the snow.
Again we were caught by surprise; roads blocked, trains cancelled, airports closed etc. If you don't know my wife and kids live in Denmark - it takes more than a few feet of snow to affect life there. I suppose that's because it's a high priority for them to keep the country moving, over here we just accept the massive financial costs that adverse weather brings.
Today I read that the main retailers have cancelled home deliveries for Scottish customers because of the backlog from last week's nightmare - it really is incredible how the whole country grinds to a halt.
However, there was a bit of humour - apparently some insurers charged extra premium for drivers changing to winter tyres - seems that the machine said "additional premium" - it's so bizarre that you know it's got to be true.
All moaning aside, 2010 has been quite a year. Here at the CII we launched the Aldermanbury Declaration - work carried out by the Insurance Profession Task Force, headed up by CII president Barry Smith and now Chris Hanks, gave us a framework for transforming our industry into a profession.
It was my team's job, together with colleagues in marketing and communications, to make sure that all professionals in the sector became aware of what we are trying to achieve - and to encourage companies to sign up, committing to the spirit and ambition of the Declaration.
The response has been extremely positive - with support from virtually all market segments, representing a huge percentage of people employed in our sector. Over 160 companies have committed so far and my team is now working with them to plan how they can fulfil the various criteria by the end of 2013.
Another highlight of the year was the conference and exhibition of the British Insurance Brokers' Association. Chris Hanks, Julian James, David Slade and Stuart Reid, sat on the panel session - promoting the benefits of professionalism.
We hosted a workshop on chartered status and we presented our inaugural chartered awards to corporate chartered brokers- Heartland, and individual winner, Karen Brown of Lockton. Our stand was also well-visited, with hundreds queuing up to challenge Steve Davis at pool.
In terms of the CII's own internal measures, 2010 was a very successful year with increased uptake of virtually all our products and services. Many companies are making substantial investments in the technical competence of their people.
We have also seen increased interest in our soft skills courses aimed at junior, middle and senior management. Next year we will focus on increasing the number of corporate chartered insurers and chartered brokers in the sector.
Chartered is not a badge of exclusivity, it's a mark of excellence, and we want as many companies as possible to meet the strict criteria of chartered qualification - thereby providing the public and commercial customers with confidence in our sector. So for those of you lucky enough to be attending any event where I am on the panel, prepare for persuasive arguments, convincing statistical support and the occasional bit of humour as I carry the chartered message. You know it makes sense!
Anyway enough from me - all that's left for me to do is wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011.
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