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Time for a change of pace for Vero boss A

fter 37 years in one place, it was time to look for a new opportunity, says Vero’s former executive general manager, commercial and personal. Andrew Aitken left the company two months ago, hoping to build a portfolio of directorships – and “do more of the good things in life”. He said there were already opportunities for board appointments on the horizon and he had become more involved in local sports clubs, of which he had been a member for many years. “It was time to look for new opportunities and a different way of approaching life.” He was also looking forward to spending more time travelling, on his boat and skiing. The insurance industry had changed a lot over his career, he said. “When I started, insurance brokers dealt with the very large and the very special. A lot of business was sold direct to customers by insurance companies using agents. It’s gone from that to the insurer with the balance sheet often being almost invisible to the end consumer.” He said the industry tended to go through cycles. “One of the things I look at with New Zealand versus Australia is that the broking industry in Australia is not as strong in the personal insurance market. In New Zealand, brokers still have a larger share of that market and a number of brokers do quite well with personal insurance. The industry at the moment is in a pretty interesting place and going through a number of cycles. It’s fairly clear that things are going to change in the next few years.” 48

September/October 2014

WHEN I STARTED, INSURANCE BROKERS DEALT WITH THE VERY LARGE AND THE VERY SPECIAL. A LOT OF BUSINESS WAS SOLD DIRECT TO CUSTOMERS BY INSURANCE COMPANIES USING AGENCY SYSTEMS. IT’S GONE FROM THAT TO THE INSURER WITH THE BALANCE SHEET BEING ALMOST INVISIBLE TO THE END CONSUMER. The big insurers were still picking up the pieces after the Canterbury earthquakes, he said. “I think New Zealand needs a strong primary insurer market. A lot of that is now consolidated under the IAG banner. IAG and Vero are still working through the Christchurch response. When new players, or those who weren’t exposed to Christchurch, come in with a different set of offers... Brokers have to think: How do we support primary insurers while not exposing ourselves when others come along who can offer different solutions and aren't still paying those costs in the background?” He said, although regulation had become tougher, it was easier for foreign insurance firms to set up in New Zealand now, because of the advances in technology and communications. The Christchurch earthquakes were an insured event like no other in history, he

said, and it would take time to work through the consequences of that. “It is reported that most claims will be finalised by 2015. Will that be achieved? I think the bulk of it will be. But the longer things take, the harder they are, the more they cost. The fall-out will take time.” Aitken said he would miss the people he had worked with at Vero and the process of doing business, making things work. He would not rule out a return to the insurance industry eventually. “Never say never.” He said he would recommend the industry as an option to young people considering their futures. “It has a lot to offer at a lot of levels. There’s been a bit of a gap and that gives an opportunity for young people coming into the business.”

Profile for Benefitz

Cover Note September Issue 2014  

Cover Note September Issue 2014  

Profile for benefitz