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Sam Pentecost Contributor

EXHIBIT 1: Lloyd’s of London is a hotbed (I use the word advisedly) of over-sexed and over-paid brokers and underwriters getting it on and carousing through the night, according to a racy new novel by former Lloyd’s broker Victoria Neville. Thursday Nights, Monday Mornings reveals the racy underbelly (pardon the use of that word) of the London insurance market. It’s a kind of 50 Shades of Lloyd’s, peopled by such characters as Tony the Philanderer (a broker, natch) and underwriter Sarah “Shagger” Smith. When these characters aren’t living it up at posh restaurants they’re appreciating each other in long paragraphs of panting purple prose. There are also some handy technical hints offered by Ms Neville from her 21 years as a Lloyd’s broker. A textbook it’s not, but.

Maybe there’s something to be said for the way most people end up in insurance. Very few of us finished high school with a burning ambition to work here. Yet once you’re in, you’re usually in for life. Because there are so few barriers to entry and because there are so many different ways to join, we’re a varied bunch. As individuals we mainly suit the jobs we do, and collectively we do a very good job. There are very few posers in insurance (Oh, okay, there are a few… you know who you are, Figjam!); we understand each other pretty well and there’s plenty of respect among rivals. So while we’re all hardedged and gritty with the business of transferring risk, we’re also a bunch of soft and gentle spirits who appreciate the support of others. The following snippets are offered as supporting evidence:

EXHIBIT 2: We all love a good office romance story, and few people could see these two together at the AIMS Conference in Honolulu in May without feeling the need to smile. Broker Casey Hall moved to Melbourne from Perth in 2009, joined Austbrokers Phillips, and after many hesitations about office liaisons eventually agreed to a date with director Mark Van Der Haar. She recently became Ms Van Der Haar. While they’re both busily pursuing their business ambitions – Casey has set up shop as an authorised representative of Austbrokers Phillips – they still have plenty of time for each other. Nice.

EXHIBIT 3: Here’s IBNA Chairman Gary Gribbin and Austbrokers Chief Executive Mark Searles getting up close in Honolulu, proving yet again that partnership is also about friendship, especially when the venture is joint. It reminds one of that Karen Carpenter song about “strangers in many ways”. No, on second thoughts perhaps you’re right – it doesn’t.

EXHIBIT 4: As we’ve already established with Exhibit 1, insurance people are horny little devils. These Aon types made that abundantly clear recently when they shed their office clobber for more interesting gear as part of a scavenger hunt organised by CGU. This exhibit merely illustrates what we already know: the insurance industry knows how to have fun. Our hellish types from Hades are Najibi Bisso from CGU and Brett Batson, Kylie Moody and Giselle Levens from Aon.

EXHIBIT 5: Brokers go to lots of conferences where they absorb words like energy, dynamism, action. Sometimes all that seizing of the day clashes with the energetic seizing of the night that preceded it, at which point the presence in the Steadfast Convention exhibition hall of NTI’s Heavy Recovery vehicle suddenly makes complete sense – as does a soft and sympathetic shoulder.

The moral of all this? Insurance people like (and occasionally love) other insurance people. That as individuals we don’t take ourselves too seriously. That we enjoy working and celebrating together. And that, all in all, we’re pretty much like everyone else out there. Just better-looking. 86


August/September 2013

Profile for Insurance News (the magazine)

AUG/SEP 2013 - Insurance News (the magazine)  

The insurance centre of London is our focus in the latest edition of Insurance News (the magazine). We’ve got an exclusive in-depth intervi...

AUG/SEP 2013 - Insurance News (the magazine)  

The insurance centre of London is our focus in the latest edition of Insurance News (the magazine). We’ve got an exclusive in-depth intervi...