Mike Wilkins insists he won’t be selling up and shipping out, but he needs to take assertive action to prove his commitment to the market
IAG boss Mike Wilkins is bullish about the future of his company’s UK interests, in his first profile interview with the British press. IAG UK was one of the biggest losers from the explosion in bodily injury claims, with hundreds of millions of pounds injected into reserves, half-year losses of £115.3m and the small matter of an FSA investigation.
So will he sell it? He says not. Wilkins insists that the hardline action he has taken on price and distribution will return the insurer to profit next year. You’d hope so, given the current state of the motor market and the insurer’s willingness to take a hit on some heavy reserving.
The bigger question is why does IAG want to retain its UK interests? It flogged half of them to former chief executive Neil Utley two years ago, before parting ways with him last summer. What was once a sizeable UK portfolio now looks more like an afterthought, particularly for a business based on the other side of the world.
Utley’s replacement, Ian Foy, has kept a noticeably low profile – understandable, perhaps, but unlikely to persuade the market of his employer’s long-term commitment.
If Wilkins is serious about holding onto IAG’s UK business, it’s time to get on the front foot, and out into the market.
• The insurance industry was one of the greatest losers in the tragic events that unfolded in the USA 10 years ago this week. Aon and Marsh both had offices in the World Trade Center, and hundreds of their workers’ lives were lost.
Many people in the industry lost friends and colleagues that day.
The business of insurance also faced up to a new kind of risk, on a previously unimaginable scale. Ten years on, we remember September 11 and trace its far-reaching effects.