The Insider ponders the latest manoeuvre in the economy blame-game, and highlights some sporting feats and failures
I wonder what Hank Greenberg’s secret is? The 84-year-old former AIG supremo tells me he plays tennis whenever he can. Apparently, he’s still a fine player and has been known to humiliate men half his age. He also skis whenever the conditions are good and moves with lightening speed. Hank even looks pretty good, in a Mr Burns kind of way. What has kept him so sprightly, I wonder. Surely it couldn’t be all that rushing between court rooms and congressional hearings?
Harman on a mission
Left in charge of the country while Gordon is on his hols, Harriet Harman pinpointed the blame for the whole of the financial crisis at the door of – yep, you’ve guessed it – men. It must have taken a couple of weeks for it to sink in, but it appears that after reading the in-depth feature produced by my pals at Insurance Times concerning the lack of senior women in the board rooms of insurers, Harman felt it necessary to speak out. Is she just a politician jumping on the bandwagon? Or was she attempting to capture the silly season headlines to mount a leadership challenge? Another school of thought is that she is setting herself up for a few nice finance-related non-executive directorships once Labour gets voted out of power.
To glorious Goodwood for a day of racing with the new bloodstock underwriting team at Markel and affable company president Paul Springman. Based in Virginia, USA, Springman is a bulldozer of a man and has a personality to match. Markel was the sponsor of one of the races but, as the day wore on, it emerged that the team’s expertise did not translate into pounds and pence at the tote.
Rising from the Ashes
Isn’t it glorious to watch England take apart the Aussies in the Ashes? It must be heaven over at Lloyd’s underwriters Sportscover. They can watch the cricket all day long, and pretend they’re actually working. But, best of all, they get to fire off taunting emails at the sitting ducks down under at Sportscover Australia. It wasn’t so long ago that we suffered the Aussies’ unbearable gloating after the 5-0 series whitewash. We can only keep our fingers crossed that England don’t somehow mess it up – it wouldn’t be the first time – and manage to snatch back the Ashes. One wag informed me that the plan is to throw “a few verbal shrimps on the barbie, and give ‘em a good frying”.
Enfield’s chum hired
So Aviva has picked funny man Paul Whitehouse to star in its latest TV advertising campaign. The word is that the actor – best know for roles such as Ron Manager and one half of the “Old Gits” in comedy sketch shows The Fast Show and Harry Enfield and Chums – will tell commercial clients to use a broker. But will Whitehouse set a new trend for broker service at the same time? It may not suit everyone, sir.
Strictly highland fling
The Biba crew were out in force at the Trade Association Forum Best Practice Awards last week, where the broker body was crowned Trade Association of the Year. Journalist and TV presenter John Sergeant was in attendance, as was Biba chief executive Eric Galbraith, looking dapper in a dicky bow and tartan kilt. Last year Sergeant made quite an impression on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, but rumours that Galbraith was doing his best to upstage him with his own Scottish highland dance are as yet unconfirmed.