The Tentacle

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No Glass Ceilings

On average, women in the insurance sector are paid 35% less than their male counterparts (1) Surely this is nothing but blatant discrimination. Not only do women have to fight for their right to be where they are, working hard and gaining professional qualifications, but, also, learning to be ruthless and reduce their natural qualities so that they fit in as ‘one of the lads’. Of course, it’s always possible to lead a double life when it comes to working as an insurance broker, but, at the end of…

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A broker network is not just for Xmas!

It’s a curiosity that UK insurance brokers are oft reckoned to be such fiercely independent and intransigent beings (in that regard), yet their hackles are barely ruffled as each successive network of which they were a member passes casually from the hands of one large/mega broker to another. Or so it seems. But, what can one little ol’ independent broker do? Possibly choose one’s partners a little more carefully in future. Too harsh? Of course, not every small UK broker that is presently a member…

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Where have all the brokers gone?

Do you remember Peter, Paul and Mary, the 60s folk singing trio? Their greatest hit was entitled Where have all the flowers gone, although by the end of the song they were ultimately enquiring into the whereabouts of all the soldiers. “Gone to graveyards every one” was their final conclusion. In 1991, when first I was elevated to the Sales Manager position at broker software house MCS, I purchased a database of 11,000 operating insurance brokers. 24 years later, roughly the span of a generation,…

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Save the broker

From Insurance Age June 2015 Edition. James Sharp wades into the conflict of interest debate and recalls an adventurous dining experience that reminded him of the increasingly endangered insurance broker I dined recently with my wife and daughter in an Icelandic/Asian fish restaurant in Reykjavik. An innocent enough activity on the face of it, unless one arrives determined to order endangered Bluefin (tuna) for your main course. We had never experienced Icelandic/Asian fishy fusion before, but,…

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Independent Broker of the Year?

Yes indeed, we are featured on the shortlist for the above category, in respect of the 2014 Insurance Times Awards on the 2nd December.  However, here we are on the 3rd November and we have not as yet booked a table, or half a table, or even a seat at said dinner event. On the other hand, we have been dropping some fairly heavy hints to several (lots of) insurers along the lines that an invitation to fill spare seats on their own tables would be favourably considered. Actually, very heavy hints…

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Not so much a code...

Given that British Insurance Brokers Assocation was founded in 1977, it is at least a little surprising that the organisation has not long ago established a code of conduct for its members to adhere to. And, stranger still - 47 years on - that BIBA should announce its intention to develop a code that members may sign-up to on a voluntary basis. If there has been no overwhelming case for a code of conduct over the past 47 years and, finally, one is being pitched as an optional add-on, then what exactly…

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More about Employee Ownership (EO)

Since the explosion in the number of provincial brokers from the early 70s, the end-game has focused – with few exceptions – either on sale or inheritance as the only two exit strategies for the founders.  Happily, there is now another way, an alternative that captures the zeitgeist of the times into which we have been delivered.  Employee Ownership.   Before going any further, one should make the distinction between Employee Ownership and employee *Share Schemes *by pointing out that these two…

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4th July - Employee Ownership Day

On the 4th July TEn celebrated its transition to Employee Ownership (EO) on what is, annually, National EO Day.  I was particularly grateful to be invited to go and speak about our decision to embrace EO elsewhere, otherwise I would doubtless have been required to adopt some form of silly American fancy dress; as did most of my colleagues! The question is, why have we done it? Following the purchase of Giles and Oval by Arthur J. Gallagher, one can sense a definite* fin de siècle* whiff as we draw…

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Messerschmitts & heinkels

I attended a recent Question Time event in London, run by Insurance Age and sponsored by Axa.  It was a pleasant and interesting evening and, indeed, the following buffet and the choices of wine weren’t too bad either. Inevitably a question was asked of the panel and Amanda Blanc in particular about commission disclosure. I think one could say that the panel claimed to be open minded in relation to this issue, however, the audience seemed largely unpersuaded about the comparisons and analogies used…

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Commission disclosure - dead donkey or wooden horse?

Industry figures, particularly those from bigger brokers and continental owned insurers, cannot but periodically help themselves but to venture once again to suggest the professional benefits of mandatory commission disclosure.  This is despite the FSA in its twilight years having commissioned two consultancy studies to prove the case in favour; they failed to do so both times.   I think I am right in saying that every client of a TEn member with an annual spend in excess of £100k on insurance -…

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