Canadian Underwriter

IBAC’s “Wave of Change”

October 1, 1999   by Canadian Underwriter

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Jim Ball, appointed president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC) for the 1999/2000 term at the association’s recently held annual general meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, predicts a secure future ahead for independent brokers.

However, like the inevitability of death and taxes, the broker profession cannot ignore the fact that the insurance industry is undergoing dramatic change, he comments. He likened the “forces of change” to riding a wave, “what determines whether we ride the ‘wave of change’ or get thrown around by it is how we react and adapt to change. I feel accomplishment today because in making our changes we are riding the wave.”

Although serving the mission of IBAC requires strong leadership at the helm, which Ball acknowledges, the real power of the association lies not in one individual but the collective efforts of all, he says.

And, in referring to his leadership approach in the year ahead, Ball adds, “there was a profile in one of the national newspapers last week [prior to the IBAC AGM] describing the woman who heads up the Bank of Montreal’s retail mortgage division for Canada. In it, she describes herself as a ‘change agent’. Someone who promotes and embraces change. Taking over this job, at this particular time, gives me the opportunity to be a change agent. I am comfortable with that role.”

High on IBAC’s agenda for the year ahead is investigating company-to-broker interface technology and following through with political discussions on the implementation of the federal government’s white paper on financial services reform. In that respect, and in other areas of expertise, Ball says he is fortunate to have strong directorial team.

Michael Toole, past president and current chairman of IBAC, expressed confidence in the future role of the association in his remarks to the meeting. He notes that, a year ago when the presidency had been past to him, the broker profession was embroiled in a battle for ownership of its business. Likening the course ahead to a ship’s voyage, Toole had predicted a smooth sailing for the independent brokerage community despite the disruption brought about by the release of the MacKay Task Force report. “…unlike the Titanic, IBAC demonstrated that it was well equipped to deliver…98/99 was a great year for IBAC.”

Mabel Sansom, executive director of IBAC, points out that while the association’s lobbying efforts in Ottawa have been very effective, the need for ongoing political action is imperative. “Our efforts in Ottawa have been substantial. This outcome was supported by the many brokers across Canada. However, our efforts in Ottawa are not over, as the legislation to make the recommended changes [the government’s white paper recommendations to financial services regulation] must be written and passed during the next year.”

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