The road ahead

09 June 2006 Heidi van der Bank

In order to be more effective in discussing the road ahead, for both the IISA and the College, it is important to reflect for a moment on some of the road already traveled.


For more than a century, the IISA and the institute movement has played a pivotal role in providing distance learning and examination based education systems for the insurance industry. Initially, the IISA acted merely as a link between the Chartered Insurance Institute in London and the South African market, although, at that time, both the curriculum and the examinations were related to the U.K. legislation and practice.

In the years that followed, the entire programme was altered to conform to the South African legislation and market. Importantly, the links with the Chartered Insurance Institute were maintained so that the IISA could incorporate into the local curricula whatever was useful from the CII programmes and format. The fundamental principle of Professional Development via distance learning and examination based assessment was continued.

In the early 1970s, the College of Insurance was established to provide short training programmes, both non-examination and examination related. The College was a division of the IISA and came into being as a result of requests from the market. In the early 1990s, the College initiated a service of Affirmative Action training courses, in terms of which Black matriculants were recruited and given intensive assistance to prepare them for the introductory, IISA Certificate of Proficiency (or better known, merely as the COP) examinations.

A high pass rate was achieved and the College placed those graduates into the industry. Many of them are still employed in the industry, have progressed in the IISA examinations and in their companies. This was early evidence of the IISA and Colleges strategic commitment to the whole BEE concept.

The IISAs dominant support base has traditionally been in the Short Term insurer market, but the Life and Retirement Fund markets have also been supportive of the academic programmes, especially with the advent of FAIS. The Broker/Intermediary market seems to have used a strategy of acquiring the professionals it needs from the insurers.

In the middle of all this, it needs to be remembered that the IISA, incorporating the College, is a Section 21 Company (association not for gain), which has never intended to or changed to achieve reserve finance of any significance. It has existed for and depended totally on the support from the industry, through the delivery of appropriate and relevant educational and professional insurance development services. In carrying out its mandate, it has always reported to and been guided by a Management Board of senior people from the industry as well as its Council.

Recent years and a rapidly changing environmental have been difficult for the IISA/College. Legislation compelled a move to arrange a legal separation between the IISA and the College. In terms of this, the College was to be the provider of education and training, with the IISA remaining primarily as a professional standards setting and maintaining organisation. The requirements of INSETA have placed additional strains on the operation.

College of Insurance What the immediate future holds

As matters now stand, the College will be ceasing its operation as a provider of training and education as at the end of June 2006, with the support of the industry, the College is able to meet its commitment to fulfilling its obligations to current learners and clients up to the end of the year.

Since the beginning of 2005, the IISA and the College had entered into a collaborative relationship with Unisa Centre for Business Management in order to take over the responsibility of providing tuition and assessment for the higher educational programmes, namely the Higher Certificate in Insurance and Diploma in Insurance. These programmes will remain intact and any learner currently registered, or future learners intending to register will in no way be affected in the least by the closure of the College.

Learners who have registered for the Advanced Diploma in Insurance Management, a prerequisite for attaining the sought-after Fellow of the IISA designation, will be able to complete their 2006 examinations with the College. Future learners will be advised in due course of the proposed replacement programme to be offered by Unisa.

All other learners who have been registered for any of the College distance learning programmes will have the opportunity to write their examinations in July and September this year. No further examination opportunities will be offered beyond September 2006, but a route through alternate providers is being investigated.

For those business clients who have enrolled learners for skills or learnership programmes, each commitment is being assessed based on its own merits to determine what is in the best interest of the individual learner and in the interest of the client. In most cases the College is proposing to complete its training obligations in order to have finalised and ceased operation by the end of November 2006. The College is presently negotiating with each of the clients to determine the most appropriate course of action.

Despite the closure of the College, it must be emphasised that no learner who has successfully completed a learning programme with the College of Insurance will lose his/her credits obtained against the appropriate range of unit standards. These credits are loaded onto the National Learner Record Database through INSETA and no training will have been in vain. The fact that the IISA will continue as a professional body means that the higher level designations will retain their value, both locally and internationally.

IISA Quo Vadis?

With the orderly closure of the College, the IISA will be refocusing its attention on building its value proposition, centred on the promotion of professionalism, human capital development and supporting the spirit of transformation.

The IISA has in the past 12 months established a strategy that set out to re-emphasize the role of professionalism in our industry. The vastly changed and changing socio-political and economic factors, as well as technological advancement in the business of insurance and investment have, in many instances kept us in a reactive, compliance-oriented mode as opposed to a proactive, professionally competent and future-focused frame of mind.

It is against this backdrop that the IISA proposes to critically review the notion of insurance professionalism and to ensure that a firm foundation is laid for the promotion and development of true professionals.

These ideals will be built on the foundation of those who have attained professional status in the past, and it is, and to borrow from the words of one of the 12th Century philosopher, Bernard of Chartres, by standing on the shoulders of these giants, a brand new generation of professionals and leaders will be developed for the future.

Karel Smit
Acting IISA Chief Executive

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