The reshuffle at Aviva may be good news for GI but sparks some questions about group chief Moss

Aviva’s director reshuffle raises more questions than it answers. One thing that is certain, though, is that UK general insurance chief executive David McMillan will be a potential contender to take over from Andrew Moss as group chief executive.

McMillan’s CV is shaping up nicely. The shake-up means he’ll be working directly with Moss and he joins Aviva’s general executive committee, so he’ll have a crucial say in shaping the company’s future. Added to this, McMillan has shrewdly used the insurer’s unparalleled infrastructure in the UK to move away from high-commission brokers and managing general agencies to where the profit margins are more juicy. Together with a renewed focus on broker personal lines, this has helped Aviva attain an impressive 96% combined operating ratio for two years in a row.

But if McMillan is on the up, the same can’t be said of Moss. Blown off course by the financial crisis, Moss has failed to communicate a clear strategy to the City and, partly as a consequence, Aviva’s share price is depressed. This latest reshuffle is a good example of Moss’s weakness in executing a coherent message.

European head Igal Mayer’s exit is an odd one: did he jump or was he pushed? He leaves the business just as his reputation was growing. Meanwhile, Trevor Matthews moves from UK chief executive to head of developed markets. Matthews has seemingly been distanced from the core UK market, so it’s a strange ‘promotion’, if that was the intention.

The knives are out for Moss among analysts and certain shareholders, who have been whispering their discontent to the media. New chairman John McFarlane is likely to feel pressure to usher Moss out the door when he arrives later this summer. The company needs a big name with big-picture thinking. Andy Haste, are you listening?