BGL announces management changes

March 7, 2013

by Brian Turner

Story link: BGL announces management changes

The BGL Group today announced two new appointments and a departure within its senior team.

Martin Overton has stepped down as Group Director Legal Services and leaves BGL in March. Martin joined the Group in 2006 as Director, Commercial and Corporate Services, and was promoted to Managing Director of ACM, BGL's claims management arm, in 2008. He was appointed Group Director Legal Services in 2011.

David Downie has been appointed Group Director Legal Services. Since joining the Group in 2012 David has successfully established BGL's new 'Intermediated Businesses' Pillar and driven significant growth. His breadth of experience prior to joining BGL positions him well to develop the 'Legal Services' Pillar which is enjoying significant growth through new contracts. It recently secured the claims management operation for RAC, as part of the motor contract renewal with Junction.

Peter Thompson, Managing Director of Junction, has been promoted to Group Director Intermediated Businesses. Peter joined the Group in January 2008 and has overseen Junction's continued success as the UK's leading insurance partnerships business, with more than 1.8 million customers managed on behalf of partner brands. In his new role, Peter oversees the business areas responsible for delivering insurance products to consumers. Our TV screens seem to be overwhelmed by solicitors pleading with us to claim for any little mishap, it seems that there is no such thing as an accident in this day and age. Somebody can be blamed and they must be made to pay!. With this in mind, it would surely be an extremely brave (or perhaps foolish) small business owner who made the decision that they didn't need public liability insurance. Clicking on the following link will answer your questions that you might have on public liability insurance price comparison.These include 'in-house' brand business Frontline, partnerships business Junction, Bennetts, Fusion contact centres, Product and Panel Development and Pricing.

Matthew Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer of the BGL Group, said: "Although David has only been with the Group for a year, he has done much to establish the new Intermediated Businesses Pillar and his expertise will be equally important in leading Legal Services. It is particularly pleasing for me personally to see Peter's contribution rewarded through promotion. I am certain these new appointments will play an important part in achieving our ambitious plans for the future. I would like to thank Martin Overton for his significant contribution to the Group over the last six years and wish him well for the future."

The BGL Group consists of four 'pillars': Intermediated Businesses, Legal Services, Brand-Led Businesses and comparethemarket.com.

AXA appoints Agrical as lead adjuster for farming and agriculture claims

April 17, 2013

by Brian Turner

Story link: AXA appoints Agrical as lead adjuster for farming and agriculture claims

AXA Commercial Lines and Personal Intermediary has appointed Agrical as its lead chartered loss adjuster for all farming and agricultural claims.

Agrical is the UK's leading specialist loss adjuster for farms and landed estates. The appointment is for three years and Agrical has the appropriate level of authority to make decisions on 90% of the claims they handle, making the claims process quicker for customers.

Karen Osborne, Leeds Branch Manager for AXA, comments: "Given the current terrible weather conditions being experienced by farmers in many parts of the country, it is likely that we could see claims coming in as the full outcome of its impact are known. Compounded by the other pressures being experienced by farmers today makes it important now more than ever that farmers know they can rely on their insurance cover should they need it and that it is supported by the very best claims service.

"Our claims service is award winning and our mantra is to get our clients back in business as quickly as possible, so having a specialist adjuster like Agrical on board can make a real difference to efficiently handling their claim in these troubled times."

David Orell, ACII, CIP, ACILA and Divisional Director at Agrical, comments: We're delighted to be appointed by AXA. Our TV screens seem to be overwhelmed by solicitors imploring us to claim for any little mishap, there is obviously no such thing as an accident in this day and age. Somebody is to blame and they must be made to pay!. With this in mind, it would be a very brave (or maybe foolish) small business owner who decided that public liability insurance wasn't necessary. Clicking on the following link will answer any questions that you might have on uk public liability insurance.It recognises the need for a specialist approach to loss adjusting in agriculture to meet the very particular needs of the farming community."

The AXA Leeds branch is an underwriting Centre of Excellence with a particular expertise in underwriting farms and estates business.

Clydesdale Bank hit with £20 million PPI fine

14/04/2015

By Jonathan Davies

Clydesdale Bank has been fined

Gender imbalance in tech sector must change for startups to thrive

Martha Lane Fox wants to put women at the heart of the technology sector. Photograph: David Levene

"It's not OK not to understand the internet anymore," said Martha Lane Fox during her recent Richard Dimbleby Lecture broadcast live on the BBC. During the speech, the tech champion attacked the UK's digital divide, the lack of understanding of the internet among UK politicians and the under-representation of women in technology companies. In her opinion, what is needed is a new institution - she suggests the name doteveryone.org - which could tackle these problems head on.

"Let's create a new institution and make Britain brilliant at the internet. We need a new national institution to lead an ambitious charge - to make us the most digital nation on the planet," she said.

Inappropriate remarks based on your gender are par for the course

Jess Stephens

Across the country, entrepreneurs took note of Lane Fox's words. She was one of the leading lights of the first wave of dotcoms, creating Lastminute.com, along with Brent Hoberman. She remains an inspirational figure for many business people, particularly women working in the tech space. Among these is Jess Butcher, co-founder of "augmented reality" app maker Blippar, who says: "Martha's comments around the lack of women in technology particularly resonate as, like her, I feel that technology suffers from a monumental diversity problem which negatively effects both the culture and the output of the sector."

Lane Fox says she wants to put women "at the heart of the technology sector". She says sexism is rife in the technology and investment industries - she experienced it firsthand when she was fundraising for Lastminute.com. One investor, apparently more interested in her personal life than the revolution she was spearheading, bluntly asked: "What happens if you get pregnant?"

For Jess Stephens, chief marketing officer at cloud messaging service SmartFocus, such attitudes are all too common. "I would go out on a limb and say that every woman who works in the tech industry has an anecdote similar to the story that Martha Lane Fox used at the start of her lecture. Inappropriate remarks based on your gender are par for the course and represent obstacles that you must overcome as woman in the tech world," she says.

But if the gender imbalance in the tech industry is to be addressed by the creation of a new institution, what methods should it employ? Entrepreneur and investor Mark Pearson, who founded and sold MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, says he welcomed much of Lane Fox's speech, but he is concerned that doteveryone.org would employ positive discrimination, which he feels is counterproductive. "No single group should be at the 'heart' of it," he said. "I have twins - a boy and a girl - and I want each to grow up as ambitious and unafraid to succeed as the other. The UK won't be brilliant at the internet until we stop trying to implement quotas and genuinely celebrate and insist upon the best from the next generations."

The importance of addressing skills shortages was stressed throughout Lane Fox's speech and there is little doubt that the UK has a problem. A recent report suggested the UK needs an extra 150,000 workers with digital skills every year and demand only looks set to increase.

Business owners struggling to find staff could hardly agree more with Lane Fox on this point. Jack Bedell-Pearce, managing director of data centre company 4D-DC, says he regular faces the challenge of hiring good staff: "As an employer, we're still not seeing the relevant skills filtering through from schools and universities. We need kids with a basic knowledge of coding, networking and server infrastructure development.

"It sounds daunting but the earlier you get them thinking about IT not as a social media experience, but in terms of code, networks and connected servers, the sooner they will understand the potential of the internet."

But the creation of a body, which is presumably publicly funded, raises many questions. Our TV screens seem to be full of adverts from lawyers pleading with us to claim for each and every mishap, it seems that there is no such thing as an accident in this modern age. Somebody is to blame and they must be made to pay!. Bearing this in mind, it would surely be an extremely brave (or perhaps foolish) owner of any business, be it big or small who decided that public liability insurance wasn't necessary. Clicking on the following link will answer any questions on Is Not Having Public Liability Insurance Illegal?.Lane Fox avoided laying out a clear blueprint for doteveryone.org, although she did suggest an organisation that was entrepreneurial at heart and far removed from the culture of a government quango.

We need to create a commercial environment which encourages entrepreneurs

Joe Mathewson

Laurie Wang, founder of women's tech entrepreneur group W Kollective, believes this is the right way to do it. "To maximise the institution's potential, I believe it should be innovative, adaptable and have an open architecture. Very similar to how a startup would be run, in fact, fostering the flow of creative ideas with the flexibility to adapt to the constantly evolving digital landscape," she says.

Lane Fox expressed considerable concern about the ability of politicians, whose "lack of knowledge breeds fear", and who are regularly haunted by the words "Government. IT. Failure". The failure of government to get things right with IT projects leads many in the business world to wonder if a public body is the right approach.

Joe Mathewson, founder of education tech firm Firefly, says the UK internet industry doesn't need more quangos or government institutions. "For Britain to be better on digital and for British companies to challenge the American heavyweights, we need a fundamentally non-governmental solution," he says. "We need to create a commercial environment which encourages entrepreneurs, from school age and above, that supports digital businesses and helps them grow."

The UK has a strong startup scene, but in global terms it lacks big hitters. Lane Fox said among the top 100 visited websites in the world, there's only one from the UK - the BBC - which comes in at number 74. So what, then, are the chances the UK can, in Lane Fox's words, "leapfrog every nation in the world and become the most digital, most connected, most skilled, most informed on the planet"? There are many big challenges to overcome, but most entrepreneurs believe a combination of education, greater inclusion and entrepreneurial spirit are the way forward.

However, some argue that it's not just a matter of inspiring schoolchildren and hoping things will trickle through. Richard Rolfe, co-founder of National Coding Week, worked as a teacher until his early 50s but subsequently taught himself to code and now works with adults to help them do the same.

Rolfe says: "It is a myth that the internet, digital skills and the world of tech belong to the youngsters. There are plenty of entrepreneurs and digital professionals who have adapted to the digital revolution, but there are many who think that digital skills are hard to learn.

"If her plan is to succeed, it needs to genuinely reach out to and embrace people of all ages, all members of society."

Sign up to become a member of the Guardian Small Business Network here for more advice, insight and best practice direct to your inbox.

http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2015/apr/13/gender-imbalance-tech-sector-martha-lane-fox

General Election 2015: Conservatives launch manifesto

14/04/2015

By Matt Ayres

David Cameron has promised a "good life" for British workers and families if the Conservative party resume their government after the General Election 2015.

The prime minister announced that he wanted "to finish the job" of rebuilding Britain on behalf of "working people", outlining his pledge to take workers on the minimum wage out of tax and double free childcare to 30 hours a week.

Other key Conservative pledges include extending the right-to-buy scheme for housing association tenants in England, lifting the inheritance tax threshold on family homes to
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