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CASE STUDY

NZI rings changes C

hanges at the top level of NZI will only be positive for brokers, the company says. Executive general manager Karl Armstrong is to take up a newly-created role as IAG’s chief risk officer. From September 15, he will be tasked with overseeing reinsurance, risk assurance and compliance. The purpose of the role is to focus on strategic and operational risk, support delivery through strong assurance processes and ensure the business is sustainable and competitive. IAG said Armstrong was one of the most experience and respected leaders in the insurance industry. He has been with NZI for 43 years, since he started as an office junior out of school, and at the helm for the past six. “On day one I was told to get a haircut,” he says. “Now I have no hair.” IAG said the appointment would allow it to benefit from his depth of knowledge and insight into business risk. The NZI executive general manager position will be filled by Travis Atkinson, who has been chief executive of AmGeneral, a joint venture between a large Malaysian banking group and AIG. AmGeneral is one of Malaysia’s largest insurers, providing a range of insurance through a multi-channel, multi-brand approach. In 2013, Atkinson led AmGeneral through the integration of Kurnia insurance, Malaysia’s largest motor insurer. Before his secondment to Malaysia in 2012, Atkinson was IAG’s executive general manager, business partners in New Zealand. Armstrong said it was an opportunity for him to move into a new area of risk, which was becoming more critical as regulatory demands increased. “It’s a great learning opportunity… I’ve been asked ‘what advice have you got’ and I say you’re never too old to learn. After 40-plus years I’m looking forward to developing deeper skills in particular areas.” The best part of his role at NZI had been the people, he said. “Both internally and externally, staff and our broker partners. Not least the fact we’ve had quite a lot of achievement over some quite turbulent times.” The past four years had been the most challenging in his career as the insurance industry reeled after the Christchurch 38

September/October 2014

TRAVIS ATKINSON’S FOCUS IS ON BROKERS AND STAFF AND MAKING SURE THE BUSINESS IS A GREAT ONE TO WORK WITH AND WORK FOR. earthquakes, he said. “We’ve come through in a leadership position and I like to think I can take some credit but it’s also down to the great team.” It was a credit to NZI that it had stuck around for customers through the recovery from the earthquakes, he said. “A number [of insurers] upped sticks and moved.We stood firm and created the capital and capacity to continue cover and had backing of our own organisation and reinsurers.” Armstrong said brokers should notice no difference once Atkinson took over. “He’s been away from the broker market for a few years but he’s not a stranger to brokers and he has a great team backing him.” Atkinson said he was excited to be taking over the running of such an important part of IAG as the company worked through the integration of Lumley into the business. New Zealand’s broker market was in a very good position, he said. “The demise of brokers in the digital age is something that’s been predicted for many years but in reality good

brokers will always be good brokers… in New Zealand we already have a healthy balance of customers that deal direct, through the banks and with brokers but the broker market is exceptionally strong. We all need to adapt to changing times but the broker market is as strong as ever.” Changes under his leadership would be for the better, he said. “We are going to be going through a transition with Lumley and want to capitalise on that and be better than we are today. We bought Lumley to enhance our business… we have the desire and resolve to maintain the best of both businesses.” His experience with integrating businesses in Malaysia would help, he said. “I’ve got a different style to Karl but we’re similar in many ways. I’ll be focusing on brokers and staff and making sure the business is a great one to work with and work for.” But he is hoping for better weather in Auckland in time for his return. “Here, it’s 30 degrees every day. I’ve grown a bit accustomed to the warmer weather.”

Profile for Benefitz

Cover Note September Issue 2014  

Cover Note September Issue 2014  

Profile for benefitz