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Archived stories from Nov 2019

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Obesity pandemic blamed on electronic trading

In a drive to reduce obesity in the insurance industry, brokers have been advised to reduce both the size and length of their lunches. In recent years, levels of obesity have reached epidemic proportions in the industry, particularly amongst brokers.

Who ate all the pies?

One of the worst affected areas is the London Market where the concept of the long broker lunch was developed, reaching its peak in the late 1980s. A broker lunch would often consist of a dozen courses, and often lasted from 12.30pm through till 5pm.

Changing working practices are blamed for the expanding waistlines. In the past, levels of obesity were kept in check by the amount of golf played by brokers. Also, the traditional method of face to face meetings meant brokers were more physically active. Hopping nervously from foot to foot for hours at a box at Lloyd's waiting to get a 1% line on a marine shipment of potatoes to Russia, could burn off as much as 1,200 calories. Carrying an armful of slips the length of Fenchurch St was the equivalent of an hour's intensive weight training.

In recent years, however, electronic trading has meant that brokers are increasingly seated in front computers. Even where meetings still occur, most modern insurance buildings such as Lloyd's and the LUC have elaborate systems of escalators and travelators to facilitate movement throughout the building.

At a crisis meeting called by the IUA, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver suggested that brokers could "try a sandwich occasionally, or a salad, maybe a packed lunch". His advice was met with derision from brokers, however. One told RISKbitz, "Good god man, it's a bloody sad day when one can't knock back half a dozen oysters, a beef wellington or two, followed by spotted dick and custard. And what about when we have a client to take out? Next thing, they'll be telling us we can't get rat?" Cont p300lbs

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