People buy into a vision. Janice Deakin’s was to make Aviva number one for brokers. Let’s hope Aviva boss Mark Wilson can build on that

Aviva’s intermediary and partnerships director was the face of the insurer in UK broking circles. She espoused the concept of Aviva being number one for brokers, believing it could be the largest agency and offer quality service. She was also a constant for brokers for more than 13 years.

That’s important considering the number of general insurance chief executives that have come and gone during that period. Her departure to Arthur J Gallagher as UK commercial director is a blow.

But people buy into a vision, and Gallagher certainly has that at the moment. It is the fourth largest broker in the US behind Aon, Marsh and Willis. The aim is clearly to replicate that success internationally, using the UK as a springboard. Deakin will play an important role in helping Gallagher chief executive David Ross make astute acquisitions.

Aviva’s turbulent performance

Just as people buy into visions, however, they’re also unsettled by inconsistency. Aviva is a tale of two stories. Its UK general insurance arm has performed well in the past four years, thanks to focusing on the profitable independent broker segment. Its personal lines business has struck lucrative deals with the major players and regional brokers alike.

But on a group level, Aviva’s performance has been turbulent. The insurer made a £3.1bn loss last year and, as a result, 400 executive directors, including those in UK GI, were ordered to take a pay freeze. Decisions like this can’t be helpful to high-performing individuals such as Deakin.

UK GI is a glittering jewel in the Aviva crown. Let’s hope new chief executive Mark Wilson finally gives it the credit and consistency it deserves.

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