The man at the top of an insurer's GI business is not always the one pulling the strings

This week, we take a look at the group bosses of three of the UK’s largest insurers (page 10). AXA’s Nicolas Moreau, RSA’s Andy Haste, Aviva’s Mark Hodges and their peers are seldom seen in the UK broker market, at least in comparison to their general insurance lieutenants. As insurers gear up for some massive changes, including AXA’s sale of its life arm, it’s worth taking a step back to remember that the figure in the front window is not always the one pulling the strings.

It’s not easy to find the balance between developing strategy, looking at the company as a whole, and allowing your front man to shine. But the chief executives we highlight today have got it right. Mark Hodges, in particular, has faced the challenge of dealing with a broker market that, for historical reasons, knows him better than his number two, David McMillan. All three have taken a backseat role, but their guiding hand can be felt. Hodges, for example, is closely linked with Aviva’s journey of reconciliation and bid to rebuild its premium, while Haste is widely credited with turning RSA from a basket case into a force to be reckoned with.

But these three would be nothing without their general bosses, themselves usually seen as the big cheeses of the UK market. Philippe Maso, Adrian Brown and McMillan are three very different characters, each with his own organisational challenges. The dynamics between them and their bosses make for interesting reading and will shape the market in the months and years to come.

Tough task list for the new ABI boss

Talking of front men, or women, it is with some surprise that we say goodbye to ABI director-general Kerrie Kelly just six months into the job. Kelly has kept a remarkably low profile since taking the reins – and now we know why. She had the unenviable job of managing a multitude of conflicting interests within the intractable organisation, as well as the task of increasing its political clout in a country not her own. It looks like she failed. Whoever replaces her will have the even tougher task of turning round market opinion and rebuilding the ABI’s public face. He or she will need to get started quickly. IT