UK insurance body launches ‘professional standards’ initiative
The UK’s Chartered Insurance Institute has launched a new initiative that it says is an “unprecedented call to life, pensions and long-term savings providers to commit to a framework of professional standards”.
The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) said its campaign, which it’s calling “the 2016 Commitment”, is the result of more than 12 months of analysis on its part, in cooperation with “a group of leading market practitioners” that analysed the challenges facing the sector. The conclusion of this research, it said, was that “clearly defined action” was needed in order “to boost public confidence” in the industry and its products.
“This is particularly important, given the key role the sector will play in the light of pension reforms,” the CII added, in a statement on Monday announcing the new campaign.
Nine insurance firms have thus far signed up to the initiative, including Aviva Life, HCL, LV=, NFU Mutual, Old Mutual Wealth, Phoenix Group, Re Assure, Scottish Widows and Standard Life.
A spokesperson for the CII said that although in the institute’s experience it has “not always been possible to gain a similar level of support from regulators and firms operating in other markets” as it is able to obtain in the UK, it nevertheless “consistently seeks out such opportunities – and where possible, we will work with firms, regulators and consumer groups to identify ways of raising standards” abroad.
The spokesperson added: “Across the world there are examples, notably in India and the Middle East, of where the CII has successfully worked with the regulators to raise standards and to promote the professionalism agenda”. However, he acknowledged that there was “still much to be done” in many overseas markets.
“Ultimately there needs to be an appetite to embrace the challenge of professionalism, particularly from regulators, but if this does not exist then it is difficult to impose standards outside of the regulatory norm,” he said.
‘Ambitious but realistic’
CII president Robert Fletcher said the 2016 Commitment proposals were “ambitious but realistic” and added: “I congratulate those firms that have committed to fully implement the recommendations by the end of 2018.”
The 2016 Commitment calls on its signatories to “operate clearly defined and consistent policies towards customer service, ethical conduct, qualifications, and continuing professional development”.
These policies were developed in the wake of independent research commissioned by the CII that identified them as being of the most importance to customers, the CII said.
Other companies invited to sign up
CII president Fletcher said the organisation welcomed additional signatories to its campaign, which he said is sending “a clear message to customers, and indeed all stakeholders, of the intent of the sector to raise its standing and reputation”.
“I applaud the first signatories to the commitment, and I am confident that a number of other companies with whom we are in discussions will soon follow suit, adding impetus for what I believe is a growing desire, within the market, for concrete action.”
Companies interested in signing up to the CII’s initiative, and having their names included on the list of signatories, are urged to visit a sign-up page on the CII’s website, here.
To read and download a copy of the CII’s 2016 Life, Pensions and Long Term Savings Professionalism Commitment document, click here.
Globally the CII is said to be active in more than 150 countries, with more than 120,000 members, and claims to be the world’s largest professional body dedicated to insurance and financial services. It provides education in the area of financial services and insurance industry education as well as professional qualifications.