Saturday 25 November 2017

Green light for merger of main broker associations

Members give mandate for unification talks

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

MEMBERS of the two broker bodies have backed plans for their executives to sit down and agree a merger. The Irish Brokers Association (IBA), the Professional Insurance Brokers Association (PIBA), and the Independent Mortgage Advisers Federation (IMAF) could join forces as one body by September.

The first hurdle was cleared yesterday when members of the IBA voted overwhelmingly in favour of continuing talks on a tie-up. And PIBA members, at their AGM, yesterday, mandated their executive to resume talks with the IBA on the merger proposals.

PIBA members are now due to vote in September on merger terms likely to be agreed over the summer with the other two bodies.

Plans to merge the IBA with PIBA were abandoned in 2007 when IBA members failed to back the tie-up. An earlier attempt six years ago came apart before proposals on a merger were formally put to members of the two bodies.

PIBA, which traditionally represents smaller brokers who sell pensions and life insurance, has around 850 members.

The IBA has 420 members, many of whom operate large brokerages. A large proportion of its membership are involved in general insurance.

Some brokers are members of both organisations.

IMAF members, who have traditionally concentrated on mortgage business, would also hold membership of both bodies. The coming together of the three bodies would mean there would be a single entity representing the interests of brokers with up to 1,300 members.

It is understood the coming together of the different broker bodies has the backing of banks, insurers and regulators in the Central Bank.

The biggest stumbling block to a final agreement on creating one body for brokers will be the jockeying for positions.

Outgoing president of the IBA Paul Kinane, who was the driving force behind the merger, said the motion put to yesterday's meeting got 95pc backing.

He revealed that talks on a tie-up had been going on for eight months.

New entity

The six full-time officials in the IBA and a similar number in PIBA will be accommodated in the new entity, with voluntary redundancy offered if they want to leave.

PIBA chief executive Diarmuid Kelly said the general feeling of members of his organisation at yesterday's AGM was to wait and see what was proposed on the merger and vote on the final deal in September.

He said there was a need for a coherent voice to represent brokers, particularly on regulatory matters.

IMAF's Michael Dowling said his organisation was likely to end up part of a merged IBA-PIBA. "It is logical to have one broker body and this should happen sooner rather than later," he said.

His organisation has 42 members, but they are also members of the IBA and the PIBA.

Irish Independent

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