Preparation urged as EU agreement imminent: ABI

The group chief executive for Friends Life said he was “confident” that full agreement on Solvency II could be reached within the coming weeks.

He told delegates attending the Association of British Insurers’ Solvency II conference in London that, for the first time in his 26 years in the industry, he could see “significant growth drivers, particularly in corporate benefits and pensions defined by auto enrolment”.

Because of this, he said he could “predict that markets will triple in size by the end of the decade.”

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He said: “The politics is over and the time is now to prepare and get ready. It is actually a very challenging deadline to get ready for 2016 and we all need to focus.”

Mr Briggs encouraged delegates to start planning ahead, adding: “The insurance sector has a great opportunity to drive economic growth.

“We have spent more as an industry than we should have done, but that’s in the past now. It is critical that the UK is part of the EU. Equally it is critical that we recognise that solutions need to be found between the different cultural differences of member states.”

Mr Briggs, who highlighted that Solvency II was conceived nearly a decade ago, also joked that he almost began to expect Solvency III to arrive first.

Stephen Jones, chartered financial planner at North Wales-based 75point3, said: “We see AE as one of the greatest opportunities to penetrate the corporate market for many years as it is going to lead to many firms seeking advice and services outside the range offered by their existing providers. The converse of course is that those firms already in the market, who don’t embrace the AE service requirement, might find that long-standing relationships are weakened. We are already experiencing some short-termism, perhaps driven by Solvency II, which is resulting in reluctance from insurers to get involved in the early stages as they do not see immediate profit. For the bold providers, with a good business model, this is a golden opportunity to put their services in front of a receptive audience.”