Rude words and quite rude dancing are on the Insider’s radar this week. And then there are the koala bears ...
Language, John, please
I got a call from an ecstatic broker friend the other day – he had just finished a phone conference with Norwich Union’s top executives and more than 200 broker members of its Club 110. It seems John Kitson, the sales and marketing director who was leading the call, got frustrated when he began talking but got no response. After he launched a barrage of F-words, the problem was fixed.
What Kitson didn’t know was that there was nothing wrong with the technology, it was just that the brokers were on mute. So his Christian Bale, Boris Johnson-style rant went out loud and clear to all of them.
Kitson later apologised, but the brokers couldn’t resist a giggle at his gaffe.
Henry dares to bear
My chum Henry Engelhardt, chief executive of Admiral, is well known for his rather colourful turn of phrase – and his comments in the company’s year-end results were true to form. He likened the UK motor market, with its rather sluggish efforts to boost rates, to a koala bear. Engelhardt wrote: “There are a number of idiosyncrasies about the koala bear that resonate with similarity to the UK car insurance market. Here are three, I leave it to you to pick and choose which ones best represent the UK car insurance market: koalas sleep some 16 hours a day, they can be nasty if provoked and they are known to smell quite bad.”
I have never met a koala bear (and I don’t think they would be allowed in my club) but, given that an Australian friend of mine lost a great deal of money on an ill-timed foray into the UK motor market, my guess is that all three descriptions apply.
Way of the samurai?
Not all brokers are booze guzzling, fine dining, corporate entertaining louts, you know. Bassem Kabban, the boss of United Insurance Brokers, is a rather more refined character. A lover of Japanese culture, he prefers to relax by tending to the bonsai trees in the garden of his Surbiton home. No word yet on how Bassem feels about those other icons of Japanese society: manga, samurai, drunken salarymen and geisha.
Pop goes the real world
You mean to tell me television isn’t real? Those complaints from jobbing musicians who have been unable to get “Swiftcovered” made me laugh. Apparently, some were surprised to discover that Iggy Pop isn’t even a policyholder with the insurer he advertises. Oh dear. Just for them, then, I have some more disturbing news. Duffy doesn’t really chug Diet Coke while riding a bicycle and warbling badly. And a new car won’t change your life. Well, not the kind of car you could afford, anyway ...
Two weeks in and my Facebook page is taking shape. I have almost 25 friends and my son is not sounding quite so confident about his bet. It’s a curious thing, this social networking. I’ve had various approaches from, ahem, close friends of years gone by. Nothing we need worry my wife about, of course. Do join the fun. “Backchat Insider” is the name.
AXA à la discothèque
Whoever said AXA had a problem with service? The French insurer swept the board at last week’s National Sales Awards, held at the Hilton in Park Lane. Les garçons (et les filles) picked up gongs for account manager of the year and best innovation in sales – take a bow, Karen Taylor and Paul Burton. No wonder Philippe Maso, Paul Meehan and Ant Middle were smiling: acclaim is a rare and wonderful thing for AXA. The celebrations went on well into the night and my spies at Insurance Times can confirm that, as well as being generous with the champagne, the AXA team can really shake their stuff on the dancefloor.