NOVEMBER | OPINION “I say “I’m an insurance broker”. A guaranteed conversation stopper.” Conversation stopper Luker Rowe’s Peter Tilsed on industry misconceptions I was at the party of a good friend recently and came to the conclusion that I should be employed in the event industry. It was a typical party where you chat to friends, but you also start conversations with people you’ve never met before. You have a few beers and you start a talk about holidays, cars, where you live and how old your kids are. Then comes the question “So what do you do?” This is the point where I think if I was employed in the event industry I could say “I was a cameraman on the Rolling Stones worldwide tour”, or maybe “We’ve been installing screens for a new stage show which was valued at £1m” or even “I had to source trapeze artists, jugglers and stilt walkers for the recent street festival”. Instead I say “I’m an insurance broker”. A guaranteed conversation stopper. They 18 might politely comment “That sounds interesting” but wouldn’t really mean it, or they might just decide that it’s time to get another beer. It wouldn’t even be as bad if I could provide some true examples similar to the Jasper Carrot sketch where he read out real life statements from insurance claims. For younger readers, he was a comedian who as part of his sketch just read out insurance claims such as: • “I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way.” • “Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.” • “The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.” • “The pedestrian had no idea which way to run as I ran over him.” • “The accident happened because I had one eye on the lorry in front, one eye on the pedestrian and the other on the car behind.” After an initial pause, the conversation continues with those that have still got enough left in their glass that they can’t leave with the excuse that they want another drink. There then can follow a very strange logic which seems to go like this: Insurance is part of the financial services industry → Bankers are part of the financial service industry → City bankers earn a fortune → therefore you must be earning a fortune. If only it was true! It is probably a similar analogy to saying Harvey Goldsmith (younger readers may need to look at Wikipedia) produced many of the biggest music events and became a millionaire, so every other event organiser must be a millionaire. The party moves on and I gain the friends back by talking about my other interests – cricket, ballroom dancing, scouts and gardening. They are so enthralled that they go away to bring their friends over but for some reason never return. So I’ve now changed my approach. I say “I’m a risk advisor to the event industry”. That’s true. It’s what I do. Just means that people are still happy to have a beer with me. Until I go on to cricket, ballroom dancing …. It’s time to go home so I look for my wife who has disappeared. It turns out she was chatting to some guy that was on the recent worldwide Rolling Stones tour.