Amanda Blanc: ‘At the halfway stage, we’ve done what we said we were going to do’

AXA has grown its commercial book by 11% to £900m this year and significantly increased profitability, UK commercial lines and personal intermediary chief executive Amanda Blanc has said.

The growth brings AXA closer to meeting its target of £1.2bn of gross written premium (GWP) and a 95% combined operating ratio by the end of 2015. AXA’s combined operating ratio has improved from 106% in H1 2010 to 100% in H1 2013.

AXA’s national trading centre, which handles sales and enquiries from smaller brokers of up to around £5m GWP, has grown by more than 20%.

AXA also performed strongly in its Investor in Customers survey. The net promoter score amongst commercial lines brokers improved from 7.15 to 7.51 out of 10. And personal lines scored 7.73 out of 10, the first year it was measured.

Blanc told Insurance Times: “I look at it as we’re climbing Mount Everest. We’re probably at Base Camp 2 – we can see the summit and now we’ve got the hard push to get to the top.

“In 2011 everybody said we’d never do it, and there were lots of cynical articles written to say it won’t happen.

“Well at the halfway stage, we’ve done what we said we were going to do.”

Blanc was the joint winner with Hiscox’s Bronek Masojada of the insurer CEOs’ CEO award at this year’s Insurance Times Awards.

She was voted for by other chief executives for “reinvigorating the business with a clear sense of direction and purpose”.

Blanc said: “We made a promise that we’d be persistent and delivery in certain areas. Brokers would recognise that we’ve done that. I’m quite proud of where we sit, remembering that we’re not finished yet.”

Getting personal

This year AXA revamped its personal lines intermediary proposition with new products launched at Biba and recruited seven regional managers based out of its branches.

It has rolled out real time pricing for personal lines brokers and will add data enrichment to its real time prices early next year.

“Real time pricing means if there are problems and opportunities you can address them straight away instead of waiting for months to get rates live with software houses. You could argue it’s not just exciting, but absolutely vital,” Blanc said.

AXA also withdrew from some “significant” personal lines MGA businesses at the beginning of the year.

“We looked at it and thought we can’t make money of it that. Our view was that it was value destroying rather than value creating,” Blanc said.

“We had a grown-up dialogue with brokers that we still have relations with in many other areas. In a partnership you have to recognise that one partner can’t consistently lose money subsidising the other.”