Following some major senior exits of late, we ask: are the big brokers forgetting their staff?

Last week, we warned of cutbacks at all the big brokers: but even we didn’t predict them to come quite so thick and fast. The news that Brendan McManus has departed Willis, along with David Margrett, was a shock. Brendan is an industry leader of long standing, who is widely respected: no doubt he’ll return to the market soon, though. Meanwhile, at Towergate, broking divisional director Dave Partington quit just months after a promotion.

Both Willis and Towergate have taken a financial knocking this week, too. As we revealed on Thursday, Towergate’s EBITDA fell nearly 12% in the first six months of the year. Willis has seen income drop nearly 7% in the third quarter of the year.

Perhaps both brokers have been guilty of pushing too far, too fast. There is talk of low morale at Towergate. As the company moves towards flotation, it is driving its people hard - perhaps some of them have simply had enough. Willis has been cutting expenses back to the bone for some time now, with tales of account execs doing hasty calculations at dinner to see if they’re allowed to buy their clients another round of drinks.

In such weary economic times, workers need to feel valued and inspired”

In such weary economic times, workers need to feel valued and inspired. At Towergate, staffers privately suggest Mark Hodges has yet to fill the vacuum created by Peter Cullum and Andy Homer’s departure from day-to-day roles. At Willis, the loss of McManus, for whatever reason and whether or not linked to the FSA fine of some months ago, will be felt keenly.

Holding on to key staff is all the more crucial in the face of competition. For every broker whose numbers are dropping and whose staff are leaving, there will be one who is growing and hiring. One broker’s pain is another’s gain - and JLT and Gallagher are just two of the brokers whose stars are rising right now.