What is that strangely sinister thudding sound Bankstone News keeps hearing? Could it be the dismal thwock of airborne steel brought down on wood through flesh and bone as insurance firms up and down the land wield the chopper of headcount rightsizing?

Is pound-shedding building confidence? Corporate mugshots in the papers grin on grimly, but haunted eyes reveal despair. The game’s as good as up, and we all know it. At current growth rates, austerity will last another thousand years. Long before which, we’ll have left our fuel-less cars to rust, sold all our goods and relatives for beans, and burned our homes for winter fuel. And still we won’t have paid back what we owe.

So cheer up, you miserable lot, things could (and will) be a whole lot worse. Business volumes and profitability are only somewhat down as yet across all sectors of the insurance market, according to this week’s Insurance Times.

Brokers, of course, will be the first to be spared the drawn out death-throes of this once great industry, as what little is left to insure falls prey to margin-slashing direct writers.

After “confidence fell for the second quarter running due to a decline in business volumes and profitability,” the latest CBI/PwC Financial Services Survey claims, “numbers employed fell sharply and brokers are planning to cut back on capital expenditure in the year ahead.”

And things are little better for insurers, the report reports, as “profitability decreased for the second quarter running due to stagnant or declining fees.” Insurers too are axing staff, as “anticipated improvements in premium income and the much hoped-for rate rises have not materialised,” the report is reported to have reported.

Still, it was fun while it lasted!


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