Tom Broughton, editor
You’ve got a pocket full of business cards, a shortlist of leads and the late night memories will long stay with you. But just in case you didn’t make the Biba conference, or are struggling to remember the good bits, here are ten things to take away:
1. Brand power and the noise. If the Biba conference is anything, it is a measure of intent from the leading players and new entrants. It’s not just about snazzy displays and cocktail bars. It’s about who has the biggest stand, who is most confident, who knows all. Of the pack, LV= certainly looks to be manoeuvring rapidly and neatly. One to watch.
2. What to say when the small talk runs out. “The market is soft … and remains soft, surely?”, it’s just not what the bulk of the insurer chief execs are telling us, is it?
3. If you ever needed proof that everything must change to remain the same, the chatter surrounding the new battle lines for the SME market were repeated over and over. Better still, read Deloitte’s Ian Clark on page 20 or, to view the full picture, see Markets&Risks on page 26.
4. The big deals. The transformational deals. Oval? Giles? Towergate? Bluefin? So much speculation, so much whispering. The only questions at Biba were who and when?
5. The characters and the come-back kids. Peter Hubbard, Paul Meehan and Paul Donaldson, but still no sign of Bridget McIntyre. Just who will be popping up again and where?
6. Did you meet Jon Greenwood, the new boss of NIG? If history tells us anything, the person in that chair usually goes on to big things.
7. The detail. One plenary session focused solely on grilling the rating agency community over its confidence and competency. A long time coming.
8. Family. The independent brokers, the small guys and the family-run firms were out in force. What’s more, they were having their day in the sun, as insurers raced for their attention, their injustices heard in a public forum and real broking reared its head again.
9. Style. In a market full of clones, a little bit can go a long way, can it not?
10. Next year. To London and to the Excel again. It’s not gone down well with some, but with more London market players on parade than usual, Biba may welcome the additional foot count the capital brings. But let’s hope it doesn’t mean the troops miss out on their annual party.