Tom Broughton, Editor

Andy Homer marched his men to the top of the hill. Now he plans to cut up to 10% of the Towergate workforce as the jaws of the recession lock tight (see page 22).

Homer, the company’s chief executive, and Peter Cullum, its executive chairman, can no longer afford to talk about succession planning, stepping back and landmark acquisitions. They’ve got to keep their hands dirty, keep money on the table or face a very real threat to the Empire.

If the past decade has been about growth, deal junkies and bravado, this year is about scaling back, cost cutting, humility and shopping in the bargain basements. The group has just renegotiated its banking covenants and, in an acknowledgement that the business has to change shape; disposals at the right price may be the order of the day.

Homer still consistently maintains that the Towergate model is sustainable despite widespread condemnation that it is not. Just when they wanted out, this market has dragged them back in.

Stop interfering with a good idea

The latest delay to the personal injury reform process until April next year is neither shocking nor a surprise. But what it does do is further highlight how vested interests and politicking can interfere in good policy-making.

Whether it has been the vocal trade unions, the claimant lobby, or just those benefiting from the status quo, the far-reaching proposals for change have been watered down so much that they are likely to be kicked into the long grass come April 2010.

A ferocious debate follows this decision, including regulatory gaps, an underbelly of unscrupulous behaviour, a confused market map and a cloak and dagger approach to referral fees.

Meanwhile, legal fees are out of control, the premium holder is picking up the bill and the insurer lobby is at a loss. So before this debate is forgotten forever, let’s just pause for a moment and remember why this process was started in the first place.