An opportunity to speak up for the broking sector on breakfast TV had an unexpected side effect

The reputation of the financial services industry seems to take a hit every week.  We at Biba constantly have to demonstrate that, despite the negative headlines generated by bankers, the insurance broking sector is a successful, client-focused, scandal-free profession, which contributes 1% of GDP and employs more than 100,000 people.

Following a spate of bad-news stories about motor insurance, we were recently able to give a different angle with the news that sales of telematic black boxes had risen five-fold in the last two years to 180,000 live units.  These sales have helped to reduce young-driver premiums, and importantly moderated driving behaviour, which should lead to safer roads.

So it was a pleasure to be invited on to BBC Breakfast to talk about something positive amid the doom and gloom. Usually I tune in to Breakfast while getting ready for my commute, and the only insurance stories the programme seems to feature involve insurance representatives fending off criticism of increasing premiums.

I was all set to go on air and talk about the black box with Breakfast’s Stephanie McGovern. Remaining professional, and resisting the pastries in the BBC green room for fear of making a mess of my shirt and getting food stuck in my teeth, I met with Steph just before the interview. 

We had a quick chat about how to pronounce my name and what to say and do – wave an actual black box to the cameras, explain how the technology works, a mention of who loaned Steph the box … and maybe a joke about my wife’s driving, as a German mayor had recently created wider parking spaces for women drivers, and this could be linked into the story.

Five minutes later and it was all over. At last a positive story about motor insurance, with brokers offering new products that can help young drivers reduce premiums. The fact that less than 10 seconds before the live broadcast the black box had vanished (recovered by a whirling Steph from her office in an Olympic-style dash), my name was pronounced incorrectly, and the BBC failed to mention the box sponsor was all swiftly forgotten when I declared in front of 8 million people that my wife was a terrible driver.

The main feedback, by mobile and email, from brokers immediately after was: well done, it was a positive interview about the sector, but will you get any dinner tonight?

Well I am glad to confirm that after a phone call to my wife to emphasise how much fun it was to broadcast her name live to the nation, she bought into it.  Amazingly I did get dinner, so all in all an encouraging end to the day for what I believe to be a positive, and valuable sector of the financial services industry.

Graeme Trudgill, Biba