In a week of massive developments in the industry, one story dominated online traffic for several days. On announcing its half year results, AXA dropped an all too familiar bombshell with the announcement that it plans to axe 500 UK jobs in its bid to restructure the business.

As previously mentioned in Weblog, job cut stories have been among the most popular of the year, and this was no different.

AXA has yet to confirm where the job cuts will be made, but its statement said redundancies were expected within its support services and related functions. The insurer insists the cuts will not affect broker support staff – a particularly sensitive area for AXA following criticism over service. AXA staff and the wider market will wait in anticipation for the further announcement expected in the fourth quarter.

Underlying earnings for AXA UK increased 14% to £183m for the first half of 2008, up from £160m in the first half of last year.

The second most popular story of week was on the recurring theme of commissions. Norwich Union chief executive Igal Mayer declared that 30% was the ideal commission rate for brokers, including insurer expenses, after holding negotiations with consolidators, which have demanded commissions of 40% and above.

This story is expected to rumble on, with Mayer facing some criticism from the broking market.

The long-awaited comeback of former PBS Holdings chief executive Jonathan Davey was revealed exclusively by His return saw him appointed as a director of software giant SSP, where he is set to boost the firm’s profile in the UK, with particular emphasis on distribution.’s exclusive analysis, “Davey’s new challenge”, accompanied the story. Weeks earlier, SSP announced that it was set to be acquired by private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, a previous Most Read story.

The fourth most popular story saw RBS Insurance (RBSI) post a £403m operating profit for the first half of 2008, up from £258m at this stage last year. Sir Fred Goodwin, chief executive of RBS, remained quiet on the prolonged sale of the business, but it is thought RBSI’s encouraging results could keep the price high.

Finally, Towergate’s appointment of RBSI’s head of operations, Jim Donaldson, in a new senior operations role in the Towergate broking division, was well read by online users.


The most read stories this week on

1. AXA UK announces job cuts
Insurer expected to make 500 redundancies as part of company restructure.

2. Mayer sets 30% target
NU boss faces criticism over commission rate.

3. Jonathan Davey joins SSP
Former Primary boss returns as director of software giant.

4. RBS Insurance reports £403m operating profit
Bank quiet on insurance division sale as H1 losses total £691m .

5. Towergate appoints ex-RBSI head to broking arm
Jim Donaldson joins in new senior operations role.