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UAC goes solo on broker expos 

The Underwriting Agencies Council (UAC) says it will take sole responsibility for running all its Australian expos, after receiving complaints about the three events that have been jointly branded and run with the National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA). 

There are about 10 expos per year. Seven of them – including Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra – are already run solely by UAC, while Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth have traditionally been co-branded and co-run with NIBA. 

The events, which charge exhibitors a fee for a table while broker admission is free, have grown in number and popularity in recent years as the agency sector has significantly increased its local market share. 

In a note sent to members, UAC Chairman Heath Amber says recent joint-run expos have fallen short of UAC’s “professional expectations” and from this year they will be brought “under our management”. 

“We have received complaints from our members, our sponsors, our staff, and brokers,” he says. 

“In addition to this, UAC does not receive a share of any of the revenue from these co-branded events; in fact, we have recorded a loss on every occasion.” 

NIBA CEO Phil Kewin says the group is “surprised and disappointed” by UAC’s announcement. 

“The relationship between our broker members and underwriting agencies is fundamental to delivering positive outcomes for clients,” he said in a brief statement. “NIBA has always maintained a professional and collaborative approach to the relationship with UAC. 

“NIBA and its board are surprised and disappointed at the communication from UAC, and we are committed to continuing to support our members in collaborating with all underwriters and agencies.” 

UAC’s note says it has “offered a lucrative sponsorship at no charge” to compensate NIBA, but that the broking group “counter-offered with a proposition that is not commercially viable”. 

“Our offer to NIBA stays on the table, as we place great value on our relationship with the association,” Mr Amber said. We will continue to offer NIBA a table at every expo/market exchange free of charge.” 

UAC CEO Jenny Bax told the current set-up “just wasn’t working”. 

“There are opportunities for improvement with the coordination and registration. When two groups are trying to run one thing, you are often going to have issues. We’ve been discussing this with NIBA since the Perth expo in November when we saw some things that weren’t optimal.” 

Ms Bax expects the issue will not affect the broader relationship with NIBA, “which is very positive”. 

“Both organisations are equally important to their member groups – this was just one small isolated area that we could not agree on.”