NIBA Convention ignites

The NIBA Convention has begun with a boom and bang with a rousing opening from President Tim Wedlock and explosives expert Darren Flanagan in the opening plenary.

President Tim Wedlock emphasised NIBA’s role in representing insurance brokers – “we are here to represent you all, and above all stand tall to maintain our reputation as trusted professionals”.
Wedlock spoke about the various inquiries into insurance that also impacted on the broking profession. As NIBA fights for brokers in these inquiries, he pointed out “why should the insurance broking profession be hit when we are already doing it right? Focus on the banks, or life insurance, but leave us alone because we have done nothing wrong”.
Specifically, he pointed to the the fact that in 2015/2016, there were 6,500 FOS complaints against insurers, and only 344 from brokers, with the majority of those resolved without determination.
Yet he also noted the recent Roy Morgan Poll that ranked insurance brokers as one of the least trusted professions. “Look at our ranking – 27! I am not sure where these polls come from, we have work to do to lift these rankings, as I know in this room we are all better than that and should be … in the top 15!”
He noted recent news about Winley Insurance Group saying: “We need to work to make sure that anyone in our profession doesn’t act like that.”
Education would be part of that, Wedlock said. “While a university degree is not required, we need to raise the minimum education standard, as frankly ‘tier 1’ for advice is not enough. If we don’t do it, it won’t take long until we will end up like other areas in the Financial Services sector,” Wedlock warned.
Boom and bang
Darren ‘the gun’ Flanagan was next and he gave a moving account of the Beaconsfield mine rescue that he was a key figure in as part of the ATC-sponsored opening plenary. Despite at the start wishing he could go home, Flanagan found the strength to stay on and blast his way through hundreds of metres of rock with pinpoint precision to pull trapped miners Brant Webb and Todd Russell out.
His was a story of resilience and also one of the other players in the mine rescue – the ones that we don’t hear about – the unsung heroes … of 24-year-old Daniel Pisconanie and former underground mine manager Pat Ball who was there in the thick of it to ‘bring the boys home’.
Flanagan’s motivational speech became a ‘de-motivational’ one in the end – saying that what his experience taught him was to sit back and ask “How much is enough?” “When Todd and Brant thought that they were going to die … they just thought about their kids.
“So, get involved in your kids’ life, take a holiday – go camping, reconnect with your families, make sure you do that once a year. When all is said and done, that is all there is.”