Getting caught up in the Aviva speculation risks missing what's really important

The City continues to point to Aviva and speculation of a possible takeover of its life business by either Swiss Re or Resolution. At the last count, senior analysts were torn between it being a share price rouse or a symptom of the kind of market positioning necessary ahead of pending Solvency II legislation. After all, insurers, such as RSA, are looking increasingly competitive and nimble as all the senior heads focus on the general business.

But now that the dust at Aviva has settled, its general insurance business is slowly revealing its hand. Mark Hodges set the scene at the beginning of the year, heralding a change in approach, and now David McMillan is filling in with the details. The insurer’s commercial SME business is still a sizeable and significant chunk of premium and is not to be ignored, but there is to be a push in personal lines and the reinvigorated corporate risks market as it completes its first sizeable deal with Comet.

Meanwhile, should you read between the lines and the pragmatism, the message is a very simple one: everyone can come back to the table and get a fair hearing. McMillan, an operations man by trade, is refreshingly frank in his approach: “Janice [Deakin] 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 will be doing that. Mark and I would not be doing our job properly if we were spending our time horse-trading on commission levels.” That’s exactly what is needed: the right people, being left at last to get on with doing their jobs properly.

Fresh faces, new beginnings

Last year, Insurance Times landed in regions across the UK as part of the IT Pack initiative for brokers with less than five years’ experience. Eventually, and following a lengthy interview process, 19-year-old entrepreneur Matthew Stringer was selected as the star performer and crowned at the Insurance Times Awards in December. This year, the IT Pack continues in a similar fashion, except there will be three larger regional events, complete with senior speakers from the market and guests from the world of business speaking on issues such as entrepreneurialism, leadership and customer service. To sign up to the first event on 23 March at the Sketch Gallery in London, and to hear Dragons’ Den champion Levi Roots tell his success story, contact Debbie Kidman on 020 7618 3094. IT