Longstanding client relationships will have little bearing in this brave new world

Like it or not, there is a continuing shift in the way your largest clients buy insurance (see 'Shop tactics'). It’s not just an issue of risk management being propelled to the boardroom or an increase in recession-proofing in times of duress. Professionalism, transparency and scrutiny are sweeping through the transaction as vulnerable corporate buyers become increasingly sophisticated and aware.

What this translates to on the ground is time-consuming bureaucracy and an increase in tender bid costs. And, depending on where you sit on the spectrum, you can see this as an opportunity or a threat.

For some, the time and respect earned from that age-old repeat client may suddenly be replaced by a 200-page questionnaire and a series of interviews from overbearing procurement officers.

For others, this whole process is a battle of attrition and a gateway to new business that had never been on the radar. The likelihood is, however, that this shift will be a major pain in the backside for most people. But it is one you’re going to have to get used to or risk being left behind.

Aon’s new boss feels the heat

Aon is still feeling a little hard done by, following its £5m FSA fine for bribery relating to securing work overseas last year. At the time, chief executive Peter Harmer said he was sure that other players would face the same kind of wrath from the regulator – there was a feeling of injustice at Aon being singled out. Privately, some of his competitors were outraged by his comments, as there had been no public action against them.

This week, in an unremarkable interview, the new Aon boss Rob Brown explains that he will furnish the house that Harmer has built and get on with the business of running the business. He will shake up management and then focus on Aon staff. But, interestingly, he points out that although Aon has turned the corner on the regulatory front, “heat is still being felt across the industry as a whole”. Read into that what you will. IT