Sun 27 Oct. 2019

President's Message - October 2019

Dear Members,

It’s almost November! The months are flying by and the days are now noticeably shorter. There are no spooky goings-on with your Council over the next few weeks (other than me going to Scaresville for the first time – not sure how I got roped into that one!) but we are busy, so please do read on to see where you can get involved during the run up to Christmas.

We’re working to add more information to our website as you’ll notice from the links seen further down where I’ve managed to add some event write-ups!

This Council works for the benefit of our members and so we’re looking for your experiences to share on the theme of Accessibility. If you have a story you’d like to share with the Institute members, do get in touch with me at because I’d love to hear from you. Also, we’re always looking for new faces on Council so if you’re thinking you’d like to get involved please reach out to any one on Council for a chat on what we do and how you could help.

Chosen Charity – Lizzie’s Fund

My charity this year is Lizzie’s Fund, in honour of Lizzie Bramall. More information can be found here:

and watch out for news on our fundraising events that we hope you will get involved with!

Wow, our Annual Charity Quiz was fantastic! Held jointly with the Willis Towers Watson Young Professionals Network, it was a fantastic evening and raised a huge £650 for Lizzie’s Fund! Well done to everyone involved – see photos from the night here:

Educational Events

At the end of September, we welcomed Kelly Smith MBE to the inaugural Ipswich Dive In event as part of the bigger Dive In Festival. It was a really interesting lunchtime event with a great turnout, and a huge queue for photos with Kelly at the end. You can find more information on how the festival went here:

We’ve also seen excellent sessions on Flood Risk Management and Dementia – which focused on dealing with vulnerable customers.

Forthcoming Events:

  • Tues 5th November (from 5.30pm) – Courage, Confidence and the Imposter Syndrome
  • Thurs 21st November 6.00pm – our annual Christmas curry night, hosted by our Young Professionals – Almost fully booked, so get in quick!
  • Tues 26th November 7.30am – Wellbeing Breakfast: Managing the Wellbeing of Lone & Remote Workers

Looking ahead to the new year, we kick of 2020 with the following already in place:

  • Tues 21st Jan midday – Mastering Advanced Diploma coursework. Alison Cooper is back helping students learn how to understand the assignments at the higher qualification level.
  • Thurs 6th FebSAVE THE DATE Annual All Day conference. Our full day event returns! Providing several hours of CPD, join us at Wherstead Park for a series of interesting and diverse talks. Booking will open before Christmas!

Keep watch for our flyers detailing the upcoming events; our Education committee are working hard to bring our programme of events to life. We’re always keen to hear what you’d like to see more of, so do get in touch with any feedback or suggestions.

If any of your colleagues are CII members but do not receive our newsletters, it would be worth checking their communication preferences on the CII website – there is a specific section for Local Institute communications and think of all those CPD hours you can claim for the IDD requirements!

CII Campaign – Insuring Women’s Futures

You may have seen that the CII have a campaign called Insuring Women’s Futures. While this campaign has been around for a while, there is an extra push this autumn which we, your institute are supporting. More information can be found here:

The aim is to help empower all women in the UK to secure their financial future. Today, while women’s economic power is improving, progress remains slow and many women still face significant barriers to their financial lives. On top of this, findings highlight differences in how women and men experience money and finance.

We will be running a couple of events during National Money Week (18th-22nd November) as well as providing you with information about the key stages in women’s lives where financial decisions really have an impact on their financial future #MakeEachMomentCount

Happenings at Suffolk Mind

RED January 2020 registration is open! This great initiative aims to get you moving every single day, whether that’s running, yoga or even pole dancing. It’s a great way to focus during the cold and dark months following Christmas.

This month’s tip from Suffolk Mind (all these tips are available through their newsletter subscription and on the website) is on Privacy.

To me this is a really important one; to just take stock of what you’ve been through that day, or even over your cup of tea in the morning to prepare yourself for the day ahead. It doesn’t need to be for long but the focus you can get from just ten minutes could change your outlook on the whole day.

The Insurance Charities

I am also promoting the activities of the Insurance Charities this year, as both myself and the rest of our Council believe they are a valuable resource of help and support dedicated to our insurance community that are much underused.

The Insurance Charities can provide support for current and former insurance employees and their dependents in the UK and Ireland, experiencing difficult life events. Whether it’s one-off help you need or ongoing support, get in touch and see how they can help.

Find out more about their dedicated service to support anyone in the industry affected by dementia here:

CII Day in the Life – Rachel Pleasance

This month we hear from one of our newest Council members, Rachel Pleasance. Rachel is our Regional Forum Officer, and represents our Institute Council at a regional level.

I fell into a career in insurance in 2010 following completion of my degree in Business Management at the University of Suffolk. At first, I was somewhat reluctant to take a job in the insurance industry following a summer internship at an insurance company on the Project Management team – I learnt a lot, but my experience of direct insurance was shaped by call centre targets and monitoring customer service levels, which didn’t interest me at all!

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have a contact at (then) Willis through the Schools and Universities Liaison programme and was notified of a vacancy in the Market Security Group – I hoped the working environment at an insurance broker would suit me more and the job itself appeared to align with the aspects of my degree that I found most interesting. I started as a Junior Analyst, thrown in at the deep end and learning on the job. 9 years later, I’m still here at (now) Willis Towers Watson with my own portfolio of companies and countries which I am responsible for analysing.

The Market Security Group is a centralised function within Willis Towers Watson reviewing the financial security of (re)insurers with which Willis Towers Watson works globally. The Market Security function is a key tool in providing support and information to our brokers in working with our clients on the financial security of markets, to help our clients make informed choices on the selection of their (re)insurance counterparties.

A ‘day in the life’ of a Market Security Analyst involves:

  • Analysis of (re)insurance company financial statements in all different languages;
  • Lots of qualitative research and report writing;
  • Presentations to management, committees and peers;
  • Training new recruits and helping to support their development in a ‘mentor’ role;
  • Communicating with local offices and brokers, and meeting with insurance company senior management, in order to gather as much information about a company as possible.

We don’t just rely on third-parties or the opinion of the rating agencies in our assessment of (re)insurance companies. We draw on lots of available sources of information in order to decide whether an insurer can be included on our approved list, which means keeping up to date with global developments, recent catastrophes, political and economic changes in all the countries that Willis Towers Watson does business in, as all these things can impact (re)insurance company operations.

We are a close, friendly and supportive team, and I have been fully encouraged and supported in doing my CII studies by management and my colleagues. I have been working towards my ACII since 2011 – taking the scenic route – and am currently only a few modules away from completion.

This year, I decided to join my local CII Council in order to broaden my network of contacts, enhance my networking and presenting skills, and to experience the insurance world outside of my day-to-day. I applied for the newly created role of Regional Forum Officer, without knowing too much about it! I am definitely still finding my feet as RFO and am trying to take in as much information as possible through attending my local institute meetings before reporting back to my regional counterparts. The concept of the ‘regional forum’ is still in its infancy and as it becomes more established, I hope to be involved in more projects and events to help grow the relationships between the local institutes in our region.

Well that’s all for October; I hope to see you soon at some of our events, please do come and say hello.

Until next time,


Sarah Deacon