Fortunes lost, friends gained and eyebrows shaved. It’s all drama with the Insider this week
So the 2009 Forbes billionaires’ list is out and once again I appear to have missed out on inclusion by a whisker. I’m not the only insurance tycoon who has received bad news, however. Investor Warren Buffett lost the No 1 spot to his bridge partner and charity compadre Bill Gates. The sting of losing $25bn is perhaps slightly soothed by the fact that Buffett still has $37bn (Gates edged it with $40bn).
Closer to home, Sean Quinn is estimated to have lost $4.5bn. His fortune now stands at $1.5bn, but he is no longer the richest man in Ireland. I won’t be losing any sleep.
A long goodbye
So the FSA’s general insurance guru, Sarah Wilson, is to leave the regulator at the end of the year.
I’m sure the news will be met with huge disappointment by all.
I have an eight-year old son; you may have one too. But my child isn’t much like Zohaib Ahmed, the boy from Hampshire who has just become the youngest person to pass maths A-level with an A grade. Zohaib, who scored 90% in his exam, says he “revised three to five hours on a weekend and one to three hours during the week” but still had time to play computer games. My boy, by contrast, sometimes squeezes in some homework around his busy schedule of Pro Evolution Soccer. Zohaib’s ambition is to work in the City as an actuary specialising in pensions and insurance. My son, meanwhile, has shown no interest in joining the family business. And his life ambition is to turn asking his mother for money into a full-time job. I don’t know where we went wrong ...
Spare a thought for John Bright, head of underwriting at Broker2Broker. In a moment of madness last Friday, he made a throwaway comment that if his team could raise £500 for Red Nose Day, he would shave his head ... and eyebrows. Bright has since admitted that he thought it was a pretty safe bet. However, he was counting without chief executive Jason Gandy, a mischievous type who set staff his own challenge, purely for team-building and morale-boosting purposes, of course: if they could raise £250, he would double it to get to the £500 goal. The team had an excellent day and actually raised £300, which was duly made up to £600 by Gandy. Congratulations to everyone; commiserations to Bright, now doing a fine impersonation of a lightbulb.
Stars of the small screen
Speaking of Comic Relief, let’s hope the £59m raised doesn’t all go on fees for the cast of insurance advert legends – and Michel Winner – who gathered for a Red Nose Day film that has become a hit on YouTube (presumably since all the music videos were taken off). Just type in “The greatest minds in advertising join forces” to see for yourself ...
Not the rogues' gallery
I thought I’d share with you some of the friendly faces from the insurance industry who have added me as a friend on Facebook. Good-looking bunch, aren’t they, as well as having excellent taste? I now have 60 friends and recently joined a group called “Insurance isn’t just for geeks”. Well, quite. Look for me online – Backchat Insider is the name.