It's a year since Independent collapsed, and we still don't know why. Andy Cook says there are lessons to be learnt
One year ago, Independent was entering death throes. By 17 June, the game was finally up and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) walked through the doors at Edenbridge to take over.
We may never get to the bottom of exactly why Independent collapsed. The Serious Fraud Office, after making initially bullish statements, has gone very quiet. And the class action by the creditors of Independent could well settle on the courtroom steps. What we do know is that the Financial Services Authority (FSA), thanks in part to you and your support of our campaign, will keep close tabs on insurers. Last autumn, FSA managing director John Tiner revealed to Insurance Times his ideas for hit squads that could raid the offices of insurers. More recently, the FSA has introduced the idea of regular (perhaps quarterly) reporting.
On a more personal level, most former employees have gained good jobs (Michael Bright knew the value of training) and the legend of Bright's management techniques continues to entertain over dinner. But Bright was more than just a colourful rogue who spiced up an industry perceived as dreary. The legacy is clients trying to replace cover in a market with little or no liability capacity. What do you think they will remember?
Certainly not the jokey tales of Smarden Time (see Backchat). No, they will remember the company that jeopardised their survival. A year on from the collapse of Independent Insurance, we must keep in mind the extra work we will have to do to keep regulators happy and to rebuild trust with clients.