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A look at the new IISA

01 June 2007 FAnews

The IISA has gone through some drastic changes in the last year. FAnews spoke to Theo Vels, Chief Executive Officer of IISA about the implications and the future of this stalwart of the insurance industry.

In 2006, rather suddenly, the IISA College of Insurance was closed. As the IISA had always played a strong role in industry training and education, the decision caused some concern in the industry.

Challenges

IISA says that a decision had been taken in principle to separate the training and education activities of the College from that of the professional body. This was because it was felt that the huge focus on the College side was detracting from the further development of the professional body. In certain instances it was also clear that the IISA's close involvement with a training provider tended to be seen as something of a conflict of interest.

In addition, the requirements for registration with the education authorities as a provider were presenting considerable challenges for the IISA. The delays experienced in the release of grant approvals from the National Skills Fund also meant that various learnerships and skills programmes that had been signed up could not be rolled out. The result was that the College started to experience income shortfalls.

Paid-up students

After the decision to close the College, arrangements were made with other accredited providers to take over completion of the outstanding learnerships and skills programmes, etc. Arrangements had already been made to transfer higher level learners to UNISA and a generous agreement was reached with the Academy of Learning of South Africa to ensure that learners at the lower level could continue with their studies.

Sense of broken trust

Although the College closure was somewhat sudden, the generous contributions of industry players allowed IISA to ensure an orderly exit to a great degree. Inevitably there will be some sense of broken trust. However, the market in general has responded extremely well to the situation, both in supporting the IISA-approved programmes now being offered through joint co-operation agreements with selected providers and in supporting the ongoing role of the IISA as a professional body.

Future of the local institutes

Since IISA College was no longer running examinations, the support for education work in the Local Institutes also fell away. However the basic membership, networking and social fellowship remained and in some areas membership growth was strong. Purposes other than the education focus developed and possibly there may have been a need to assert independence from a perceived ailing IISA.

However, the existence of the Local Institute network is most important in the IISA's future plans. The general plan is to bring back into the Local Institutes a greater focus on education issues. This will be achieved by arranging regular seminars on high topical interest issues, which will be delivered at all main centres. Over time, the Local Institutes will also become involved via these seminars, in the vital area of consumer education.

Membership still beneficial

Individual IISA membership is for those examination qualified people who propose for membership, agree to subscribe to IISA membership code of ethics and pay an annual subscription and who will in future get involved in CPD activities. Their membership will be related to FIAS requirements as well, for which purpose the IISA provides lists to the FSB.

Exciting future

The IISA team says they are exited about the future of IISA and believe it has an important role to play. "There is no lack of challenges. An important part of our bridge building has been to form a good working relationship with Inseta. Inseta CEO Mike Abel is now an IISA Director. This budding relationship is already bearing fruit."

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