Steve Devine, chairman of the Protect Association, which is 30 years old in 2018, reviews why the association remains popular, the friendly and comfortable atmosphere of its events, and the possibility of offering online recording, or live streaming of its meetings as options members may be prepared to pay for.
The Protect Association celebrates its 30th birthday in 2018. I am not sure yet how we celebrate this but we will, for sure.
It was founded in 1988 as Magnetic 88, essentially as an underwriters’ dining club.
It’s not only the name that has changed, although amazingly there are still are a few members that were there at the start.
I have been chairman since 2003 when the former chairman, and my boss at the time,
asked me take over as the new chairman. I always refer to it as a hospital pass, as he had his eyes fixed on the FSA at Canary Wharf.
They were due to take over the regulation of the general insurance sector in January 2005. It did not take me long to make sure that the activity of Protect Association was completely transparent.
The membership was extended out first to distributors, and soon after that, to anyone working in or interested in Insurance.
Our meetings became the seminar style format and workshop events we still run today.
There are no action points, or minutes taken, or required.
We invite expert speakers and key stakeholders to talk to our members on the subjects that influence their work and lives.
Regulation and compliance is a popular subject that’s usually on the agenda but we continue to have a wonderful supply of expert speakers on a variety of topics.
I had choices to make in 2008, when I left my full time role as Head of Group Corporate Communications at Cardif Pinnacle after 15 years.
One of them as I continued my career as a self- employed person, was to continue chairing the Protect Association. It was not much of a choice as I was hooked! I just love our events and the buzz I get from being part of them.
Being a not- for- profit-entity, it’s been tough financially keeping the Protect Association going over the years.
Our members have been fantastic and we rely on them paying their memberships, meeting fees, and their sponsorship to keep us going. I must mention Golden Charter at this point, a member that has kindly sponsored our annual Dinner event for the last 3 years.
Sponsorship revenue makes such a big difference to our financial health at the Protect Association.
It really has helped keep us afloat at times. We offer bespoke sponsorship opportunities at our events at very reasonable prices. So if anyone reading this, is interested in sponsoring one of our events, please do let me know.
We don’t pay our speakers; they are all volunteers, although they do get a free lunch afterwards. Many speakers are regulars or Protect Association members themselves.
Malcolm Padgett of Paginator speaks on regulation at three of our events each year. Grant Thornton and others provide us with regulatory expert speakers too. It’s a key topic, followed by market and product developments.
I do try and mix the subjects up to add a bit of variety to our meetings, where we usually have 4/5 speakers at each one.
It’s hard to describe the atmosphere at our events. I usually supply the comedy factor with my constant battle with my laptop/ AV systems and presentation slides and whatever else can go wrong. Two that stand out are – arriving once without my laptop and also not arriving at a meeting, once, because of railway problems.
Many of the speakers and visitors have remarked upon how friendly and comfortable the atmosphere at our events is, providing a great platform for useful debate and networking.
My strapline whenever I produce brochures for the Protect Association is based on reality –
“There are no strangers at the Protect Association, you are either an old friend or a brand new friend.”
We are a virtual entity with no offices. Myself and our treasurer David Taylor both work from home and our events are based in London Hotels or hired meeting rooms.
The venues have changed too, for many years we were at the Marriott Marble Arch Hotel. Then for a couple of years we used the Hilton Euston Hotel.
This year we have set up camp at etc venues BonHill House near Moorgate.
I am really looking forward to it, it’s a great venue, recently refurbished with new equipment and great facilities.
Our first meeting in 2018 on is on Friday 19th January, starts at 11.00am and finishes with lunch around 1.30pm. Members, guests and visitors are all welcome.
Advert over, what I want to leave you with is that in the many years I have organised and chaired our events, no matter how good they are, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that we are working harder to stand still.
In as much as, people in the insurance sector are getting time poorer. Travelling to London for a Protect Association meeting has to be worthwhile, given the time and cost elements alone.
Hopefully technology can help deliver possible opportunities or solutions to help reverse the trend.
I have sent out a survey to our membership to find out what they think about us providing CPD points not just for our CII members but possibly for companies that want to provide learning and knowledge for their employees under the IDD requirements of 15 hours unstructured CPD per year.
Also, to find out what their reactions would be to us providing online recording, or live streaming of our meetings as options they would be prepared to pay for. I don’t want to threaten the core of our information hub, our live events.
But I believe it is possible for us to supply more than just a deck of speaker slides from our events and add further value to our members.
I will be happy to let you know what they thought, meantime I am praying every day that a sponsor will come along and offer to provide the equipment or help fund the outgoings on doing this.
I am sure it can be done for free but I suspect it will end up as a cost. If there are any angels out there please do get in touch.
If you would like to join the Protect Association in 2018 and help us celebrate our 30th year, either as a company, or as an individual member, I would be delighted to hear from you.