When the going gets tough, the tough brokers get going. But when and with whom?
Who would be a broker? Never mind European banks, right now UK general insurance feels like one of the toughest trading climates out there. And it’s particularly hard for those brokers that were built for better times. Top-line growth just isn’t happening, so belt tightening is the weary order of the day.
But with a few stories yet to be concluded, there’s a lot of questions to be asked about the broker market at the moment. Here’s our top five:
1) What’s happening with Giles? Boss Chris Giles has been uncharacteristically quiet in recent times, and there’s never-ending speculation about the possibility of a merger with Oval or a swap of private equity backer. In the words of one pundit, who shall remain nameless: “Chris Giles and Phillip Hodson are like two people who need to eat. One’s got a knife, one’s got a fork.” Either way, surely there’s got to be some action soon?
2) Who is Marsh going to buy? The mega-broker is known to be on the prowl, and has run the rule over all the big names, including Oval and Towergate, it has been whispered. It has tied up the HSBC acquisition neatly now - so who’s next?
3) What has David Ross got up his sleeve? The Gallagher boss has notched up Heath Lambert, and with the departure - or rather, ‘sabbatical’ - of Adrian Colosso, has firmly stamped his authority on the business. Will that be the end of his UK ambitions?
4) When will Mark Hodges start making his moves? The former Aviva boss will want to make an explosive entrance at Towergate - and the market is watching.
5) Why on earth has Andy Homer decided to be chair of Biba - and who will he offend first?!
Answers on a postcard please.