My warm greetings to all our Members and sincere hope that you, your families and friends have been staying well, and that your households and businesses have been coping with these difficult times.
It has been a very busy three months for the Company since my Easter message. Sadly, it became clear that all our summer events and dinners had to be cancelled and we still face much uncertainty about the rest of the year. This includes Common Hall (our AGM) in October which we are planning to hold, at least in part, as a virtual event.
Despite this, the Company has been vibrant and active on our three key goals of Philanthropy, Education and Fellowship. We have much to be proud of in the way we have provided extra support in these exceptional times to:
Our Society – carers, the vulnerable and those in need
Our Profession – seminars and extra funding for talent into the industry
Our Members – with fellowship, contact and comfort
Our Wardens, Chairs, Past Masters and the team in the Clerk’s Office have all been tremendous in their help and advice to me and in all they have done to deliver this good work. This has built on the secure foundations for the future of the Company in these challenging few months.
I was particularly delighted to announce that Victoria King, our Acting Clerk, has been appointed as the new Clerk to the Company and Secretary to the Charitable Trust, after an extensive selection process, in which Victoria excelled against several very impressive and highly skilled candidates. We offer Victoria our sincere congratulations, as well as our gratitude for her loyal service throughout the uncertainty of these last few months.
The Trust will achieve a record for the Company this year with £145,000 in regular and extra General Fund grants to charities supporting those vulnerable and in need during the crisis. Our support has made a huge difference to many, including care-workers, food banks, meal delivery services and the homeless. We also expect a record level of grants from the Education Fund to various projects to help young students – who have been most badly affected by lockdown – as well as those in our own industry. I am grateful to the Chair of Trustees, John Young, and the Chair of the General Fund Sub-group, Katie Wade, and all the other Trustees, for their hard work and rapid response. Increasing our charitable giving in this time of crisis and demonstrating the social value we deliver as a Company.
We will profile our members’ fund-raising in future bulletins and welcome good news stories from members with similar achievements. Email your stories and pictures to email@example.com
Education - Invest in the Future
The Trust has continued our education support for talented young people interested in joining the profession, with extra grants to The Brokerage’s (now-online) internship programme and the Into Insurance coaching courses that support young applicants with their CV and interview preparation.
We are also providing laptops to those students otherwise excluded from vital online learning programmes. Finally, we are delighted that a grant has already been made to two WCIInsurance Masters Programme Scholars, at Cass Business School. We hope there are more in the pipeline.
iENGAGE: Engage Your Career
In September, we will launch our first Engage Your Career programme aimed at younger professionals who want to develop a vision and plan for their next step on the career ladder. I am grateful to the Chair of iENGAGE, Josh Brekenfeld, and to Samantha Ridgewell for all their work in developing this programme, which will help us retain and attract younger members and also enable us to Invest in the Future of the industry and the Company. The programme is supported by the Charitable Trust, which is also scaling up the very successful CII regional training programme (now on-line) to support continuing development for those in the profession.
iWIN and iNED Webinars:
The Company has continued to provide topical and engaging forums for career professionals at every level in our industry and drive cultural change on diversity and. The Chairs of iWIN, Karen Graves, and iNED, PM Tim Carroll, have led this work:
A joint iNED/iWIN webinar on Culture and Respect on 22 June - a critical subject for London market boards – with renowned speakers from regulatory and cultural consultancies and an academic from Cambridge University - attracted nearly 200 attendees;
An iWIN webinar on Fintech: Connecting the Dots on 29 April - with guest speaker, Claire Koryczan - on understanding how to lead and encourage engagement between technology, innovation, business and people – with over 80 attendees;
An iWIN webinar on Climate Change on 30 June - with Professor Paula Jarzabkowski and a speaker from Climatewise and Cambridge Centre for Sustainability – with over 80 attendees
An iNED webinar on Annual Market Update on 6 July – attracting over 80 attendees
All the webinars had excellent attendance and feedback and we are proud of the profile they have achieved. The Chairs are working hard with their committees to identify opportunities to hold further online seminars later this year and to showcase the value of these education forums to members and sponsors. The Chair of iWIN has also driven important collaborative relationships with other market networks to extend our voice and influence in supporting change in our industry.
Fellowship and Membership
During the crisis, our Almoner has continued to reach out to our members to ensure that, where we can, we provide support and comfort. Very sadly, we have lost some of our members during this time, and our thoughts are with their families. Our intention is that we will remember our past Members properly and celebrate their lives in our next Church service, when that is allowed.
Although all our summer events had to be cancelled, the Chairs of Membership and Livery Committees have been working towards the vision of a future programme of events that are more Membership-led and deliver more tangible value for our members. The aim is to deliver a more diverse and modern range of events, including themed Executive Briefings tailored to professional interests of members. We also aim to develop social events to suit a range of pockets, different activities and interests of members, complementing the Formal Events arranged by the Clerk’s office. We also want to encourage inter-Livery events and liaison and to support ceremonies of celebration within the WCI and at City Civic events, such as the Lord Mayor’s show.
We want to offer proper ceremonies of celebration and recognition for new Freemen and new Liverymen, as well as ceremonies to celebrate WCI history, values and achievements. With this in mind, we were delighted to host our first virtual “Welcome Event” for those new members accepted into the Company at our last Court meeting.
Work has continued on membership recruitment, led by the Chair of Membership Committee supported particularly by Kirsty Gray, Ajay Gupta and Tunu Sokiri, with the goal to deliver steady growth in membership and to encourage broader diversity in Company membership.Our new Clerk has also worked hard on recruitment and on Clothing selection and planning, although sadly we have had to postpone Clothings this year. A modernised Membership leaflet has been produced to be published in electronic and hard copy shortly, reflecting the vibrant and modern ethos of the Company. We hope you will enjoy using it to profile the Company to future members.
City Civic and Company Relationships
I have been maintaining relationships with the Lord Mayor to ensure that the importance of the insurance industry and its contribution to the UK economy remains at the forefront of the City’s agenda. Court Assistant Karl Jarvis has continued to help us to stay close to the other Financial Services Livery Companies and I have been in close contact with other Masters so that the Insurers are seen as proactive and supportive participants in City life.
Company Governance and Finances
The Officers and Committee Chairs have been ensuring the good direction of the Company, updating our governance, reviewing our financial strategy and working hard on our new membership initiatives and events programmes for the future. We have held two Court Meetings by Zoom – including our July Election Court meeting last Thursday, at which I was delighted to propose our Senior Warden, David Sales, as Master-Elect in preparation for his Installation at Common Hall later in the autumn.
Over these last months, Victoria, as Acting Clerk, along with our Company Accountant, Zoe O’Brien, the Trust Administration Officer, Katie Penny and our media consultant, Liveryman David Worsfold, have all been working very hard to manage the Company operations, communications and continue work on the new website – as well as starting to update the Company data sources and administrative processes to make them fit for purpose for the future.
We remain in good financial health, despite the challenges of this year, thanks to careful budgeting by our Treasurer and Accountant and diligent management of office resources by our new Clerk. As a result, we plan to freeze quarterage for existing members in the coming year, whilst still planning to deliver our new programme of events and education forums, and to invest in better office systems and member communication resources to enable us to be more flexible and responsive to serving the members of our Company for the future.
In conclusion, it has been a busy and exciting few months, but our Company should be proud of the foundations it is building to Invest in the Future, despite current challenges and uncertainties.
“The Worshipful Company of Insurers:
Rooted in the Past, Vibrant in the Present, Committed to the Future”
The Worshipful Company of Insurers (incorporated by Royal Charter)
T: 020 7600 4006 | W: wci.org.uk
First Floor, 21 Lombard Street, London, EC3V 9AH