One broker’s client barks up the wrong tree, Tolle is not deemed best in class and the Insider digs for dirt on the RBSI sale

Now here’s a little lesson for any of you thinking of dabbling in the stock market. I was out with a good friend of the mine the other night. He’s a powerful man, so he’ll remain anonymous for the time being. He told me that a few years ago he was hobnobbing with the big cheeses at Jelf. They raved about their company, its share price, its performance – a sure-fire winner, they told him. He decided to have a five-figure flutter.

And what happened? Today the shares are worth less than half of their original value. With a resigned look on his face, he told me: “And that’s the last I’ll be dealing with that lot.”

So the message in the story is clear: when it comes to shares, don’t believe the hype.

Still shelling out for bank mop-up

There was a lovely little advert last week for the top post at the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. The new chief executive will land a mouthwatering salary of £250,000 a year. Pretty tasty when you compare it to the prime minister, for example, who is ‘only’ on £187,000 a year. And who pays for salaries like this? That’s right, it’s you! So not only do we have to bail out the banks, but we also have to pay whopping salaries for the new person to come in and sort out the mess for the banks. So perhaps it’s timely that the FSCS has finally agreed to review its preposterous charges on brokers.

Say it with a Ferrari

It seems the price of motor insurance is no barrier to a loved one’s heart. Take young Arsenal and England forward Theo Walcott as a prime example. The £60,000-a-week nipper has forked out £140,000 on a Ferrari for his girlfriend Melanie Slade on her 21st birthday. The annual insurance premium is thought to have set him back another £20,000. That must have felt like small change for Walcott, however, when such an extravagant purchase is likely to score him so many brownie points.

Rover’s revenge

In addition to demanding cut-throat prices along with excellent service, it appears that some clients now expect brokers to take an active interest in their pets. Dr Julie Robson from Bournemouth University’s business school tells how one broker lost business after failing to drop everything when the client rang up looking for a shoulder to cry on after his dog died. The broker’s first reaction was: “Well, I don’t insure the dog.” He explained that he was very busy and would call back later, but this was not good enough and, after an almighty tantrum, the client took his business elsewhere. Well, they do say business is a dog-eat-dog world.

Wanted: some vim and vigour

Franchise Performance director Rolf Tolle is coming to the end of his seven-year tenure, and you’ll hear from the Lloyd’s top bods that he’s done a wonderful job.

Tolle presided over a reign of record-breaking profits and helped steady the ship when the rest of the world sunk in the financial storm. But there’s a groundswell of opinion in the underwriting community that Lloyd’s needs to become ever more competitive. And there’s a lot of rooting for new boss Tom Bolt to introduce a bit more “entrepreneurial zeal”, as one source told me, with syndicates competing more ferociously against each other.

Someone’s ears should be burning

Roll up, roll up, it’s the sale of the century. RBSI is back on the block and as the industry’s biggest gossips get going, there’s no telling who’s going to be linked with it. In fact, the wilder the claims the better, please. The sale could take as long as four years, which gives us plenty of time to speculate.

So, could Aviva buy NIG in a bid to woo back brokers? Could the guys from LV= take back their former alma mater, Churchill? Could RSA make that “transformational” acquisition at last? Expect these and many more headlines in the months ahead. What larks.

The quest for eternal youth is far from cheap. But one dodgy clinic thought that it had come up with a full proof plan for boosting sales by flogging bargain price nip n tucks and hoodwinking insurer AXA PPP into meeting the costs. Dr Simon Peck, the insurer’s head of Provider Audit and information says the clinic claimed for numerous hernia operations, which were covered under its policy. And they might have got away with it only for one major hiccup. All the claims were for women, who were all the same age and with the exact same medical history. Suspicions aroused, the insurer discovered that it was in fact stumping up the costs for tummy tucks - which were most definitely not covered. IT