The Insider’s tales from within the ring of steel include the story of the red-faced risk assessors. Then a light lunch at the Ivy . . .
They came, they saw, they rioted. Well, they rioted a little bit. My friends at Insurance Times had a bird’s-eye view from their Cannon Street offices which, at one point last Wednesday afternoon, were surrounded by a “ring of steel” as protesters surged up from Bank Tube station, apparently intent upon turning their fury on the large HSBC branch just down the road, following their attack on RBS.
Or could there be an alternative explanation? The International Accounting Standards Board is in the same building as Insurance Times. Perhaps the protesters got wind of the role that fair value allegedly played in sparking the credit crunch, and decided it was time to give those accountants a piece of their mind.
Either way, possibly to the disappointment of some readers, the IT staff emerged unscathed. Meanwhile, many of the insurers and brokers of the Square Mile took an altogether more cautious approach, with AXA shutting its office and Willis, among others, telling all staff to work from home if possible. Clearly these boys take risk pretty seriously.
As – you would think – does the Institute of Risk Management (IRM). But there were red faces the day after the protests, with the IRM admitting that it had misassessed the risk it faced. Mystifyingly, the institute was included as a target on the protesters’ map. Chief executive Steve Fowler quipped: “Perhaps they are confusing us with someone else in the same way that vigilantes confuse paediatricians with paedophiles. There is a lesson for risk management professionals from our experience. We saw ourselves as low risk, but a risk has now arisen because others have a different agenda.”
Who ate all the pies?
Peter Wood of Esure certainly has friends in high places. I’m fond of the odd luncheon at The Ivy myself, but he’s outdone even me – by dining there with none other than Michael Winner, who appears in the Esure adverts. According to Winner’s column in this week’s Sunday Times, the great critic feasted on chicken pie, white asparagus with poached duck egg and minted hollandaise, and a rhubarb pie. History does not relate what Wood selected from the menu.
Not the Kilimanjaro crew
I used to be a fair cross-country runner back at Eton, but I couldn’t hold a candle to Charlie Pitcher. The fearless adventurer is hoping to be the first man to run 151 miles across the Sahara Desert and then row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic. He’s even obtained travel insurance from InsureandGo. But what’s more amazing is that Ben Burford and Andrew Thumwood, managing director and finance director of Surrey-based brokers Stonebridge Corporate Ltd, are planning to climb Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro, all to raise money for a children’s charity. There was a time when the only challenge brokers faced outside work was drinking enough to keep up with their workmates. I take my hat off to all these adventure-type people – or do I raise a glass?
Spiderman’s lookout at Lloyd’s
Alain Robert, also known as Spiderman, is famous for scaling the world’s highest buildings, which must be a pretty dangerous game. So perhaps his latest adventure, an attempt to climb up the Lloyd’s building last Thursday, was a case of mixing business with pleasure. Alain may have been planning to pop into the trading floor and negotiate a good price for his cover. Sadly, we will never know, as he came down after just a few minutes and was led away by police.