McMillan describes Comet deal as a ‘fantastic start’ for newly launched corporate risks division

Aviva’s Janice Deakin will have complete control over thrashing out commission deals with consolidators and brokers, marking a shift away from the controversial rule of former chief executive Igal Mayer.

The insurer’s new UK general insurance chief executive David McMillan this week told Insurance Times he would take a back seat from face-to-face negotiations unless it was “really essential”.

The decision distances McMillan from former chief executive Igal Mayer, who placed himself at the heart of negotiations while squeezing consolidators over commisssions.

McMillan said Deakin’s role as director of intermediary and partnerships had been moved onto the Aviva’s executive team to “recognise its importance”. She was previously corporate sales director under the leadership of Mayer.

“The principle person that will negotiate on deals, commissions and things like that is Janice Deakin. Janice leads the broker marketplace, so I don’t imagine that I will be sitting across from people negotiating commissions unless it’s really essential. I certainly don’t imagine that Mark [Hodges, Aviva’s chief executive] will be doing that. Janice does the vast majority of the negotiating and deal hunting at the moment and has done over the last couple of years,” he said.

He said his main focus would be to lead the business, developing strategy and performance as well as relationships.

McMillan said: “I’m sure I’ll get pulled into individual deals occasionally but that’s not the main purpose of the role. Janice is a top-class relationship builder, trader, negotiator, and that’s what she’s paid to do. Mark and I would not be doing our job properly if we were spending our time horse-trading on commission levels.”

The move comes as Aviva confirmed it had sealed its first major account win in its recently launched corporate risks division. The Comet deal is thought to be the largest fleet account won by Aviva in over a year. McMillan described it as a “significant win”, adding: “We have had a fantastic start. We’ve been winning business across the market, across a number of sectors.”

In the new corporate risks arm, Aviva has appointed Mark Wanless as senior motor underwriting manager from Mitsui; John Davies as technical manager from Capita; Michael Dobson as head of technical claims from Hiscox; and European development underwriters Nick Layton, Stuart Somerville, Mark Holder – a former property team from Zurich.

The division is currently headed by chief underwriting officer Axel Schmidt and Deakin, but is expected to announce a number of senior appointments, including a managing director, shortly.

McMillan said the insurer will concentrate on growing its corporate risks and personal lines broker businesses over the next year and confirmed there would be less growth in its SME business. “If you look at it top down, we are relatively strong [in SME], so the opportunity for growth there is not as strong. But I see corporate risks and personal lines as where we can really fire up top line in the broker space.”

Meanwhile, Giles is to lock horns with the likes of Bluefin and Heath Lambert after snapping up the Brightstar team to establish a new corporate risks division.

Giles’s corporate and financial risks division will attack the SME sector, with the Brightstar staff, including founder John McLaren-Stewart, working out of the consolidator’s new London-based office.

For more, see: David McMillan Q&A part one