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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Towergate and the archaeological old boys' club

Towergate seem to have bought themselves some breathing space – so all of those archaeology insurances are safe…..for the time-being.  I don’t even want to understand the financials, as even the press are reporting them with a degree of ‘mirth’: the senior secured debtors turning their £700m debt into a £375m debt; then the unsecured debtors jumping in with £300m against the £700m debt…..

And now… is thought likely that yet another major player in the insurance industry is set to swoop in and take the lot from either secured or unsecured debtors or whoever else wins round 2...or is it 3?    

Of course, this happens all the time in big businesses and having built a business on the acquisition of small entities, Towergate is certainly not naive in these matters – and is certainly used to getting its own way.  What we don’t know any more is who’s way they are going to get! Or who who is!!

Anyway that was all reported last Friday – and we haven’t heard anything since, but no doubt there were some sleepless nights among….who?  No idea!

What are the implications of all of this to UK Archaeology – and why do I keep going on about it?  Well, not a lot really.  Towergate is a massive insurance broker and archaeology is one tiny insurance ‘scheme’ within it.  If it fails, it is only one supplier of one service (insurance) to the industry – all be it, the ONLY insurance business promoted by the CIFA, the CBA, the “Badger” (BAJR to be more formal) etc  – and others (like me) will still be here to pick up as many pieces if it all falls apart. 

Presumably whatever it is that maintains what looks from the outside like something of an old boys' club might not be flowing quite so freely in the future (be it sponsorship, advertising revenue or just bonhomie)……so maybe one or two of us hungry yet insignificant insurance minnows might eventually get a look-in.

Bitter?  Not me!  And certainly not upset with Towergate (ironically, a business which I helped to build in my own small way) as all they are doing is trying hard to survive in order to sell insurance the best way they know how.  It is the maintenance of a 'closed shop' approach which gets to me - it is about time the CIFA and the CBA put an end to this one. A bit of fair competition would be good for all of us - archaeologists and insurance brokers alike……

Well, really, it’s only insurance……yawn!

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