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The man with the golden slip case

Dear friend,

High-flying brokers — are they worth the bother they sometimes cause?

I remember one such character being hired by the firm I worked for very early in my career. He sauntered in, plonked himself down, introduced himself to me and promptly reeled off the jumbo-sized remuneration package he had been able to negotiate for himself.

I was a little taken aback — he only had six months more experience in the market than me but was earning almost twice my salary.

Don’t get me wrong, he was a nice guy and worked hard — and the knowledge he had so casually imparted was rather valuable when it came to my next salary review, so I wasn’t complaining!

The guy didn’t hang around long — people like that seldom do — within 3 years he was a director at a large London broker. Meanwhile dear old steady Eddie here was still waiting for an invitation to join the company pension scheme!

Admittedly I’m not a very good example because I didn’t really have my heart in broking and was dreaming about becoming a journalist or writer (but palpably failing to summon up the courage to do anything about it!)

But it highlights the different types of broker that exist out there. He and I had the same skill sets and did the same work to the same standards — but his career path was stellar and mine pedestrian.

The trouble in our business is that it seems that loyalty is rarely as rewarding as deserting to join the ranks of the competition.

And looking at Benfield’s results yesterday one need not look far for confirmation of this.

Benfield bemoaned the fact that a chunk of its Fac team had been bitten off by Aon yet the broker has been doing plenty of costly poaching of its own to stock up its relatively small Benfield Corporate Risks pond with a collection of big fish.

To be fair, at the same time the broker did highlight the effort it has been putting into its own ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Footprint’ internal talent development programmes (and the fact that it is by all accounts a cool place to work).

But it will take strong leadership to nail the problem.

How about a moratorium on poaching brokers from other firms? Why not get up and say that if you can’t get one of your own guys to do it in house, you ain’t going to do it at all. Broking is not rocket science after all.

Or if you can’t help yourself, how about buying and selling teams of brokers more openly – by making formal approaches to the broking houses concerned?

The London rumour mill points to big-bucks lawyers squaring up over this latest high-profile defection, so surely this would save on the legal bills if nothing else?

And how much business do big hitters ever really bring in their gilded slip cases?

It’s rarely that simple these days, is it?

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