Despite turbulence, regional brokers remember Independent with fondness
Despite the damning verdict that has finally brought the Independent trial to a close, regional brokers retain much of their former respect, and even affection, for the one-time insurance giant.
Six years on from its spectacular collapse, brokers still talk of Independent as if they had been placing business with it just yesterday.
As well as the difficult times following the collapse, they remember the colourful personalities of its disgraced leadership, the vibrancy of the institution as a place to work, and the strength and innovation of its business practices.
It was the first insurer to segment its broker base, it used cutting edge advertising and, perhaps even more memorable, was its flagship box at Wembley, where provincial brokers gathered to view the likes of Gary Lineker and Michael Jackson.
Despite this week’s dramatic denouement, the word dishonest does not feature in any of their remarks.
“It was ahead of the game. In a parallel universe, it would have been the number one player in commercial insurance,” says one managing director.
“Anyone can create a model. What you canâ€™t create is making people love you. And brokers loved Independent
A regional broker
“Brokers in the 1980s voted with their feet,” adds a former Independent employee.
“Anyone can create a model,” says another source. “What you can’t create is making people love you. And brokers loved Independent.”
It seems that the business went wrong only when it shifted its gaze towards the capital.
“Its regional broker business was spectacularly good. If it had stuck to that instead of the London market it would still be here,” one broker lamented
“It never gave any reason to think it lacked integrity,” concludes a chief executive.
“Now everything it did is lost.”