July 4, 2014

Much to the delight of everyone here in the Bankstone News News Room, last year’s runaway online video comedy sensation, Broker Apprentice, is back for a second hilarious season.

In Episode 1, (click here to view now) we met six fresh-faced young brokers who, the voice-over tells us above authentic Apprentice-style swirly orchestral-electro combat music, share a single ambition “to be crowned Broker Apprentice 2014”.

Clearly, at least five of them are going to end up disappointed.

Presiding over their fate this year will be Zurich Personal Limes boss Tim Holidays who, the voice-overtells us clunkily, “runs a business that controls in excess of three hundred million of premium.”

Like last year’s Sir Alan stand-in, Chris Hanky, Tim will be assisted by “eyes and ears” Jonathan Swifty and Emmanuel Kenning. The distinction is never properly clarified, but Bankstone News’ guess would be that Swifty is the eyes and Emmanuel (or Emmanuelle, as Tim, who may or may not know something we do not, insists on calling him) is the ears.

The New-Gothic pink Brazilian marble facade of No. 3 Munster Court provides a suitably impressive backdrop to a compelling sequence during which, over plinky plonky cocktail piano, the candidates arrive and introduce themselves.

The segment begins rather tamely with Scots lass Veronica Belle telling us that she works well both as a member as a team and individually, and is good with clients.

Things begin to pick up a bit when fellow Scot Daniel Kinlan pops up telling us, with a nervous glance over his shoulder, that he finds it “dead easy to meet new people” and that, if he ever has to meet a client, he finds it easy to relate to them (the word ‘client’ accented with a dismissive grimace that says “Clients? I’m not afraid of them!”). Dan admits he can be a bit impatient, but cleverly recasts this supposed weakness as a strength – as he always wants “to keep striving to go further”. “I can talk to anybody,” he clarifies, “should it be a colleague or even just friends, and I think I can really implement that in the insurance market in future.”

Suavely saturnine Max Thompson, first seen riding the Munster Court escalators, thinks one of his key strengths is “with my background working towards my CII qualifications,” which gives him a good overall knowledge of “lots of different things, lots about regulations” and says he likes to keep himself up to date generally. “I know a lot about what happens in a broker,” he concludes, adding with affably complacent imprecision: “and, yeah, I have the skills to be able to do that.”

Natalie Marten should have plenty of experience to draw on in the business of apprenticeship, having already worked in insurance for no fewer than 14 years “very much from an office junior up to the position where I am now.” You name it, she’s worked on it. Nat knows risk like the back of her hand and reckons she has all the skills to “build a portfolio that insurers want to see and want to work with us to quote upon.”

Somewhat disconcertingly, Will Glee arrives by taxi sporting what appears to be some kind of collar and leash arrangement around his neck, before reassuring us that he finds it really easy to get on with people “regardless of who they are.” “I can usually put people at their ease,” he continues, “using either current affairs or sports or something like that.” This, he explains, is “just to break the ice and show that, although it is, you know, business, there is an element of customer service that underlies everything.”

Joshua Cryer prides himself on his “ability to analyse and evaluate a risk and then ultimately present that risk to the insurer whilst also keeping the client in mind and having full interaction with the client throughout the full process.” If that sounds quite staggeringly dull, fear not. Josh also has “a great passion” for the insurance industry. A passion so great, in fact, that he actually has to close his eyes briefly and collect himself before sharing this heartfelt profession.

Now that we have finally met all six, Tim Holidays briefs the assembled contenders on their first task: naming the two teams into which they are about to be split.

The first of these comprises Natalie, Daniel and Veronica. “I think it should be something that relates to success, or victory or winning,” Dan suggests. Team Winning, might not be quite right, he concedes, due to its being, arguably, “a bit cheesy”. Yes, the others agree, let’s call it Team Innovate. Which they do.

Deliberations take a decided more outlandish turn with the team comprising Will, Josh and Max. Something “that reflects broking but, at the same time, keep it lighthearted,” suggests Josh. “Something funny or that reflects current affairs maybe,” chips in Will, returning to his passion for the contemporaneous. “Could also go for a bit of alliteration,” he continues, suggesting, with a raised index finger, “Broker Broncos.” This inspires enthusiastic discussion of mascots, logos, flags etc, before transmuting via Brokos to BROkode, a name the trio universally acclaim for being “a bit quirky and silly”, sounding like ‘broke’, and emphasising the fact that, as Josh notes, “we are three men.” “Yeah, that’s it,” concurs Will with a knowingly suggestive chuckle, “three guys!”

With Task 1 “successfully” completed, the trio must now prepare for an even more daunting second task. This, Tim Holidays advises them, involves visiting places of education to persuade future school leavers that insurance is a great career.

Whilst not a single nod animates the dour-faced contestants in the cut-away shots accompanying Tim’s instance that “you guys know what a fantastic career insurance is,” Max’s face conveys a lack of conviction bordering on outright contempt.

Good luck with those kids, guys!

Will


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