It's all change and no explanation, says Andy Cook
I had a fascinating call from Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) last week. The conversation revolved around the announcement that R&SA is making 200 people redundant and consolidating a number of business units. R&SA's problem was that Insurance Times failed to mention that the company's Enterprise proposition will be "stronger" now that the company has consolidated the seven Enterprise offices across the country into two. After all, the caller pointed out, this was clearly mentioned on the press release.
Of course, I replied, Insurance Times is in the business of reporting facts in its news and there was no way that we would regard, as a fact, that the closure of offices would lead to an improved service. Now, if R&SA had asked a senior manager to explain how the reductions would improve Enterprise there would have been a chance of convincing us. A faxed press release would always be an unpromising advocate.
Indeed, when AXA cut jobs and offices earlier this year, chief executive Peter Hubbard explained what the objective was. And when Groupama did the same in the summer, managing director Tim Ablett explained the changes. In both cases, the reasons for the changes were given a fair hearing.
Following the conversation, R&SA put forward small business manager Simon Cooter to explain the changes. This is good. But with respect to Cooter, brokers, end users, contractor partners and fellow risk carriers want the bigger picture explaining.
Brokers like R&SA. It currently provides cover for risks that others will not touch and is fondly remembered by brokers for taking on Indie risks when no one else would touch them. And Insurance Times has respect for R&SA. It dares to be different. Taking claims in-house while everyone else is outsourcing is a brave move, but one that could build incredible customer loyalty.
Even rival risk carriers are concerned. They don't want another big company to go under, dragging the reputation of the market down with it.
The industry is pregnant with goodwill towards R&SA. To give birth, all we need is someone to talk to us. We have been asking for an interview with Duncan Boyle for weeks now. And still nothing. Please talk - the industry is all ears.