As part of a series of sector specific round tables, Protect, together with hosts Mayer Brown, brought together whistleblowing specialists from insurance firms large and small earlier this month.
The seminar, introduced by Pete Chapman of Baker Mackenzie and Chris Chapman of Mayer Brown, set out why whistleblowing matters to insurance firms. Firms need to consider the extension of the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority rules to the insurance sector, as well as the increase in regulators’ emphasis on non-financial misconduct in the post #Metoo era, and how they focus on diversity – and how effective whistleblowing can play a part in each area. Chris reminded the audience that the best way to avoid the FCA finding out first about a problem, is to make sure your internal whistleblowing arrangements are effective.
The panel posed questions to the room – how would you know if your arrangements were working well?
Mike Carpenter’s (former Legal and General Group Financial Crime Risk Director, and now a consultant) outlined the “Ps” that those responsible for whistleblowing should consider: philosophy, principles, policies, procedures, people, and performance. He encouraged attendees to measure the success of their whistleblowing arrangements with diagnostic tools – is a viewpoint supported by Jon Cunningham of Protect who offered the solution of the charity’s 360⁰ Benchmark in measuring operations, governance and staff engagement.
Protect Chair and ex-Aviva Chief Internal Auditor Paul Boyle OBE asked if the insurance sector has a greater level of responsibility to ensure that individuals with concerns of public interest are encouraged to speak up? Crucially, is it in insurers’ best interests to actively promote whistleblowing to their customers to reduce risks? The majority of delegates agreed. Both underwriters and brokers should be looking at the effectiveness of whistleblowing arrangements when assessing the risks of their customers – not just to reduce the need for large payouts to firms and individuals when malpractice has taken place, but – in the public interest – to avoid harm.
Finally delegates discussed the importance of trust in whistleblowing arrangements, and the need for senior buy-in if cultures are going to change. More could be done by associations and markets to issue best practice guidance: everyone should be involved in getting the message across.
By Business Support Manager Stella Sutcliffe