The week on the web
The FSA came under even heavier fire than usual this week after it published two controversial documents relating to Northern Rock and commission disclosure respectively.
The regulator succeeded in elevating the disclosure threat from orange to red, after its discussion paper left no doubt it would intervene if the market proved unable to provide its own solution. The story provoked the expected backlash among brokers, and proved the most popular story of the week on insurancetimes.co.uk.
The review of Northern Rock, carried out by the regulator’s internal audit division, conceded that the FSA had shown a lack of adequate oversight of the quality, intensity and rigour of the now stricken bank’s supervision, while failing to ensure that all available risk information was put to full use.
The governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, will be just as unpopular as the FSA among financiers. He told a Treasury Select Committee that the banks should pay the price for their dangerous lending habits. He claimed the recent turmoil had been caused by hubris and warned that further crises would follow.
Across the Atlantic, with the near collapse of Bear Stearns, Bloomberg.com reported that America’s financial system was set for its biggest overhaul since the Great Depression. This followed suggestions by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that the regulator, the Federal Reserve, should widen its scope to Wall Street investment firms.
Readers of insurancetimes.co.uk converged on the latest insurance development in the crisis, with Bear Stearns’ £22m liability dispute with Chubb featuring third on the Most Read list.
One place above that was the news that the Broker Network had added its second member – and made its first acquisition – since being bought by Towergate in December. The online version of the magazine’s exclusive interview with Towergate chairman Peter Cullum saw unprecedented levels of traffic for a feature over the first 24 hours.
The completion of AXA’s acquisition of SBJ and the defection of Heath Lambert National chief Tom Ernoult to lead Oxygen’s broking subsidiary rounded out the list.
Meanwhile, the insurancetimes.co.uk blogosphere continues to gather momentum. Joining incumbent bloggers Biba chief executive Eric Galbraith, RSA chief executive Bridget McIntyre and CII director of general insurance Lee Gladwell, the latest efforts from impassioned CETA managing director David Quick and Trevor Latimer, managing director at MYI loss adjusters (see opposite), add a broader insight into the inner workings of the sector.
The most read stories this week on insurancetimes.co.uk:
1. FSA publishes discussion paper on commission disclosure.
Mandatory commission disclosure not ruled out.
2. Broker Network announces new member and acquisition.
Survey reveals member satisfaction has risen.
3. Bear Stearns in insurance battle.
Insurer wins 22m pounds court case.
4. AXA completes SBJ deal.
Offer accepted by over 90% of SBJ
5. Oxygen appoints Heath boss.
Tom Ernoult joins as managing director of broking subsidiary.