Towergate is losing its biggest personalities, but is gaining a great asset

Congratulations to Towergate on the appointment of the year – and farewell to the bolshy broker as we knew it. Securing Mark Hodges for the top job was an outstanding coup. Hodges and chairman Alastair Lyons form a team that has the full confidence of the market, investors and potential shareholders, as the company moves towards a flotation.

The consolidator has defied its many critics to reach this stage, but in doing so it will become a very different beast. Lyons told that neither he nor Hodges wanted to “stamp their image” on the company, which is exactly what Peter Cullum and Andy Homer did. Towergate was them – from the practical jokes and fierce negotiations to the two fingers up at the world. But the creation has taken on a life of its own and is no longer an entrepreneurial outfit that can do as it pleases. While Hodges will be the face of Towergate, he will not be its essence.

Towergate has lost something, but potentially gained more. It has, without a doubt, been the winner in this week’s events – and Aviva the loser. In Hodges, the latter has lost a well-respected, experienced leader. On the plus side, he leaves it in a strong position. He steered the general insurance business back from the brink, rebuilding relationships and premium after Igal Mayer’s fiery tenure. Aviva did well to replace him so quickly, but Trevor Matthews hasn’t got Hodges’ general insurance experience or broker profile. Further change seems likely.

• Meanwhile, this week’s Airmic conference is a timely reminder that insurance companies are nothing without an end client. It is all too easy to forget that there is a buyer at the end of the value chain. The buzz from Airmic is that risk managers want consistency in pricing and integrity in claims. It’s not rocket science, but it is the secret to success – even more than securing the best leaders.