Insurer says job cuts will not affect service

AXA Insurance’s cull of 560 jobs was the natural consequence of a business-wide review of its operations, rather than a reaction to the recession, chief executive Philippe Maso said this week.

He added that the cuts would not affect the insurer’s bid to improve its service, with all customer-facingroles remaining. “This is the last thing we want to jeopardise – customer service remains our priority.”

Half the job losses would come from redundancies, with the other half through natural attrition and redeployment, he said.

Maso, who took over as AXA’s chief executive 18 months ago, reviewed the entire business, pulling back from certain areas, such as MGAs, while planning to extend others, such as direct products in personal lines. Some of the job losses would come from areas where AXA has retreated; others from its outsourcing centre in India.

“This is completely a consequence of the choices we made last year,” he said. “It is not linked to the current [economic] circumstances at all.”

Maso said that the job cuts had been announced together deliberately, and that he did not envisage any further losses. “I cannot make any guarantees, but everything being equal, and if we are seeing the first green shoots of recovery, then we have done what we need to be a more efficient organisation.”

Maso has taken a strong line on commissions and work transfer arrangements. “We are not a growth engine at any cost any more,” he said.

AXA has reviewed its contracts with all its brokers and renegotiated terms. A small number of brokers had had their agencies cancelled, Maso said.

He predicted that GWP would remain relatively stable for 2009.

The job losses are confined to AXA Insurance, and do not affect AXA’s broking arm, Bluefin.