The Insider is touched by a story of cricketing history and knocks that Ellis rumour for six. Howzat for a turnaround?

Alan Bean, the fourth man ever to walk on the moon, really got franchise holders excited at the Coversure annual general meeting last weekend. Speaking from his home in Houston, Texas, Alan told more than 320 entrepreneurs that the time was now to make it big.

“I've never met a man in my life whose ego was big enough to know how much they could achieve in a few short years if they were willing to give their best efforts,” the wise astronaut said. “If you want to make your mark while you're here on Earth, you have got to start doing it now."

Following the inspirational speech, one pumped-up crowd member took me by the arm and said: “That address was amazing. I feel I can achieve anything. In fact, I'm over the moon right now.”

Bowled over by Independent nostalgia

A piece of history from the days of Independent Insurance recently made its way into the hands of a former employee, I hear. The Independent trophy – or a cricket bat to you and me – was once fought over in a fiercely contested annual battle between the Independent XI and Smarden Cricket Club in Michael Bright’s Kent village. But, since the insurer’s collapse, the bat had sat forlorn in a local village pub. That is, until local boy Paul Upton – formerly of Independent and now of Evolution Underwriting – spotted it. The bat has now made an emotional return to more familiar surroundings. You can wipe away the tears now …


It’s time to break a habit of a lifetime and truly quash a bit of gossip that’s been going round the market, yet again. Broker Network boss Grant Ellis is definitely not leaving. In fact, one well-placed source told me the opposite is true: Grant has bundles of energy for 2010 and is aiming to become a champion of broking. He wants to become an ambassador for the industry and raise awareness at a public level about what a great job brokers do for our society. I don’t expect any of this will stop the rumours. By the time he actually does leave, people will have moved on to the next story.

Changing boardrooms

Have you been to Groupama’s swanky new offices lately? A recent trip to the new London premises, off Fenchurch Street, was quite an experience. One conference room has the company logo carved into the edges of the table, while the frosted glass that separates it from the corridor depicts a mural of London Bridge, with the brand splattered in the background. Step outside the boardroom, and you’ll see staff beavering away in a room painted with the insurer’s colours. I suppose it’s quite tasteful in a co-ordinated kind of way. I wonder if dickie bow-wearing boss FXB had any input?

A little birdie told me

At Gary Rhodes’ restaurant for the 25th anniversary dinner of SSP, the boy from Bollington, Paul Moors, came determined to wreak havoc. Although he escaped the humiliation of audience members by after-dinner speaker Alan Creary, he didn’t fail to disappoint with his very own table routine. But it was Moors’ excuse for withdrawing from speaking at the Insurance Times December Broking forum that stole the show. Apparently, Moors will be attending his firm’s own Christmas ‘pirates of the Caribbean’ party that evening and will be dressed as a giant green parrot. But knowing him, let’s not rule out him turning up later for a drink.

It’s Santa’s little helper

In my latest Facebook survey, I asked: ‘What do my insurance colleagues want for Christmas?’. The responses came in pretty quickly considering it was during the working day. Most popular among my friends was a pay rise or a new job – don’t get your hopes up – while other wishlists included designer shoes and a few strange suggestions about meerkats. Serious responses ranged from “the FSA to realise that more paper doesn’t mean more customer understanding” to “a harder market and more consistency”. Santa had better get cracking.

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