Doctors, dog groomers, Daimlers…

Any insurance broker who’s still in business after almost five years of financial crisis should congratulate themselves. But with the weaker players out of the running and the economy basically flat, the market is now more competitive than ever. Achieving organic growth means holding fast to existing clients while they are bombarded with better offers, while pulling in new ones from rivals who are clinging on just as tenaciously as you, something one broker compared to Olympic track cycling: you have to get everything right to be successful. In this article for Insurance Times, I looked at the best growth strategies for the months ahead, and at how brokers can transform themselves from passive “farmers” into efficient “hunters” , ruthlessly pursuing new business, eliminating distractions and cutting timewasters loose. One of the keys is specialising in niche areas, whatever they may be – it’s much easier to get everything right when you’re only trying to do one thing.

Home economics

Housing is always a key battleground in cities, where planners face a constant struggle to provide enough good quality, affordable homes within the constraints of local economics. Squaring this equation with the complexity and expense of staging the Olympics is one of the greatest challenges host cities face – and it’s what’s most likely to determine whether their residents feel it was money well spent in the long term. There are notorious failures such as Athens, where the accommodation built for the 2004 Games has become a crumbling, semi-deserted sink estate. But even where regeneration is considered to have been successful, in cities such as Barcelona and Sydney, there are often significant compromises on affordability and sustainability. I investigated how London’s Olympic delivery team are trying to keep their promises in this piece for Modus, the magazine of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.