A merry dance

Corporate Adviser is of course pleased to be welcoming man of the moment John Sergeant as host for our awards ceremony. To secure the services of a man who has single-handedly knocked Barack Obama off the front pages in recent weeks is most welcome.

But of perhaps more import is the decision of Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health and Work, to join the judging team for the adviser awards of a financial services industry magazine.

Dame Black’s decision to participate in the judging of the best health and wellbeing solution category of the Corporate Adviser Awards 2009 reflects an attitude to our sector from those in power that is most welcome. By so doing, she clearly sees the benefits that these awards bring in recognising those advisers who work hard to raise the standards of service they offer.

Dame Black’s report, Working for a Healthier Tomorrow, was received in some quarters as high on theory but low on workable solutions. But perhaps this view should be challenged. As detailed in the group risk feature in this issue, her Business HealthCheck tool gives further government-sponsored support for the work that corporate advisers do, by helping HR directors quantify, and therefore explain to their finance directors, the value of workplace wellbeing solutions.

Even though the market continues to teeter on the edge of the abyss, there are other signs of room for positive growth in the corporate intermediary sector, niches that give our industry a small level of insulation from the painful blows that are hitting the broader economy and the financial services industry in particular.

For example, as our feature on international private medical insurance shows, an increasingly mobile global workforce is creating a demand for consultancy services to find the way through ever more complex local requirements.

And this month’s cover feature with Andrew Fisher of Towry Law offers food for thought on how corporate intermediaries can grow their businesses. The firm’s radical position on managing clients and switching from fees to commission makes challenging reading.

Working as we do in the financial services industry, depressing news is all about us. Which is why I for one will be asking John Sergeant to show me how to dance the Cha cha cha.