TH March has been a chartered insurance broker for nearly a decade. Group Chief Executive Officer Neil McFarlane reflects on what the accreditation means for our customers.
In 2012, TH March became one of the first 100 UK insurance brokers to achieve chartered status. We remain committed to maintaining our chartered status and the high professional and ethical standards it represents.
What is a chartered insurance broker?
The leading professional insurance body, the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), has held a Royal Charter since 1912. This means it can award chartered status to leading insurance firms, as well as individual insurance professionals.
Chartered status is an industry standard that represents professionalism, ethics and standards. To obtain corporate chartered status an insurance broker must fulfil certain criteria, including demonstrating:
- Technical and professional excellence, including all of the firm’s board and 90% of customer facing staff being members of the CII with at least one board member holding the individual Chartered Insurer or Chartered Insurance Broker title.
- High ethical standards: the company must sign up to the CII’s Code of Ethics, which ensures integrity and fair dealing.
In other words, chartered status is not something you can buy. A company has to earn it by meeting qualification requirements and operating in a highly professional and ethical way. We’ve always focused on doing the best we can to treat our customers fairly and look after them. This approach has served TH March well throughout our 135 year history and is reflected in our vision, mission and values.
Firms must reapply for their chartered status annually. We’re delighted to have recently achieved chartered status for the tenth consecutive year.
Why is chartered status important in the insurance sector?
Chartered status is about raising standards across the UK insurance sector. It’s a stamp of approval that customers can look for when choosing an insurer.
If somebody wants to commission a survey on their home, they’d undoubtedly use a chartered surveyor. If they needed legal advice, they would be wise to instruct a qualified solicitor.
Unfortunately, when looking for insurance, people tend to focus on price. However, this tells them nothing about the depth of knowledge or ethical position of the individual or company advising them and providing them with insurance. Crucially, it does not give them assurance that their policy will be adequate if they have to make a claim in the future.
That is where chartered status comes in. It sets apart those insurance brokers with the highest level of professionalism, knowledge and ethical practices.
What can customers expect from a chartered insurance broker?
When dealing with a chartered insurance broker like TH March, customers can expect a high quality service. I believe our customers benefit from our chartered status in three key ways.
Advice from well qualified and knowledgeable insurance professionals
At TH March, we value education and understand the importance of qualifications. Good training adds to the knowledge among our staff, so they can offer the best quality advice.
This is important across the firm and, as someone who qualified early in my career while raising a young family, it’s something I value personally. When I took over as Managing Director in 2012 one of the first things I introduced was for every TH March employee who deals with customers to achieve the CII Certificate in Insurance. Our staff have to complete this training within 15 months of joining and this is fully sponsored by TH March
For many, however, this is just the start. We currently have 24 people who have been studying for the CII Diploma in Insurance, several of whom have passed with more results to come. All six of our directors are Associates or Fellows of the Chartered Insurance Institute.
We have gone well beyond the CII’s requirements for training and qualifications because we take professionalism seriously. Our commitment to excellence gives our commercial clients and personal customers peace of mind that they are receiving advice from knowledgeable professionals.
We’re committed to improving insurance standards
Being a chartered insurance broker means signing up to the CII’s code of ethics. In the simplest terms, this is about treating people fairly. We have recently taken this a step further by publishing TH March’s Vision, Mission and Values, which set out in writing for the first time our high standards. Our values are to put customers first, do the right thing, look for solutions and be a team.
Our commitment to ethics and the highest standards extends further than TH March’s chartered status. We also care about the wellbeing of the whole insurance industry. That’s why we’re so heavily involved in the CII at a local level. Our HR Associate Director, Jo Morgan, was president of the Insurance Institute of Plymouth and Cornwall in 2020/21, a post which several TH March employees have previously held. This is just one way in which we’re trying to make a difference.
We keep our promises
Even just providing a quote involves a thorough understanding of insurance and risk. The depth of our technical knowledge and our uncompromising ethical standards means we keep our promises.
Do we always get everything right? Of course not. However, our high emphasis on putting our customers first and doing the right thing means, on the rare occasions something does go wrong, we do everything we can to put matters right as quickly as possible.
It can be difficult to convey the value of insurance to someone who has never had to make a claim. This is because, unlike the beautiful jewellery and watches that many of our commercial customers sell, insurance is not a tangible product.
We can only provide our customers with a piece of paper that represents a promise. I think the main reason chartered status matters is that it means you live up to that promise. Ultimately, that is what insurance should be about.