The Insider is full of admiration as the industry enters a heroic age of crime-busting vigilantes and continent-crossing cyclists
Chubb Europe chief executive Michael Casella really is a good citizen. For a start, people in London are always asking him for directions, and he’s always happy to help. But recently his goodwill was tested to a new and altogether more dangerous level. Casella, an American of Italian descent, and not a man to be messed with, saw a couple of hoodies trying to pickpocket a tourist’s handbag while her back was turned. Casella raced over, yanked the yobs back and told them to get lost. The two young hoodlums scampered away and the tourist was grateful for the help. Not long after saving the day, Casella was back to helping holiday-makers with directions. I think Casella is the closest thing the insurance industry will ever get to a superhero. Perhaps we should start calling him Kick Cas.
Grant Ellis’s higher purpose
I’m sad to hear that one of my old muckers will be missing Biba this year. Grant Ellis can’t make the insurance world’s biggest annual shindig because he is heading down to South Africa to acclimatise for his marathon charity bike ride through Zambia, which starts just over a week later on 20 May. By the time his fellow brokers are quaffing the fizz in Manchester, the Biba conference stalwart will have started his training regime on the Highveld. To follow the Broker Network chairman’s progress, check out his blog at goo.gl/68Mxn
Dr Jekyll and Mr Moors
As chance would have it, I was in Manchester myself this week, for Biba’s annual northern bash. Spotted among the hordes was Biba’s Eric Galbraith, incognito – apparently, he’d been given the night off by chairman Patrick Smith but, thrilled at the prospect of a dinner where he didn’t have to give a speech, he came along anyway. After some dodgy jokes from the compere and strange crooning during the main course, the whole room was on tenterhooks when North-west chairman Paul Moors stood up to speak, having heard rapturous accounts of last year’s infamous rant at insurers. Alas, we were to be disappointed. “This is my first time speaking at this dinner,” he announced, “although some of you may have met my twin, Evil Eric, last year.”
Meehan bides his time
I hear that a number of retired chief execs and out-of-work broker bosses are currently on the lookout for non-exec roles. The latest whisper to reach me was that Paul Meehan was considering an offer to join the Giles board. However, the former Smart & Cook boss, who left AXA in October, told me that even though he would consider helping out one of his consolidator pals, he would not be joining Giles. He’ll be back soon though, so watch this space …
AXA’s David Williams has been a busy boy. In one day last week, he went for breakfast with Lord Young to discuss compensation reforms, before speeding off to be interviewed at BBC Television Centre. Expecting a simple radio job, he was more than surprised that his interview was in fact for TV. “Apparently I’ve just been on Breakfast TV doing my Wurzels impression, not sure if I’m disappointed I missed it or not!” he tweeted at the weekend.
Ghosts in the machines
My chums in the London market have often had an ‘if it ain’t broke, ignore technology’ attitude towards how they do business, but I hear this has backfired on a few brokers. I was surprised to hear that many brokers’ computer systems rely on technology that is now decades old, and that often the original software engineers have retired, or even died of old age. Younger IT consultants have seen a gap in the market, and can command wages of up to £5,000 a day for fixing these creaky old systems. Makes you wonder: why don’t these brokers just update their IT? IT