Aviva division head leaves after year in job

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The head of one of Aviva’s biggest divisions is leaving the FTSE 100 insurer after little more than a year in the job in the latest management shake-up under Mark Wilson, its new chief executive.

Robin Spencer joined one of Aviva’s predecessor companies almost 20 years ago but has run the UK & Ireland general insurance business only since July last year.

He will be replaced by Maurice Tulloch, who runs Aviva’s Canada business, after Mr Wilson said he wanted to have “the right people in the right jobs”.

Insiders said that while the new chief executive regarded the financial performance of the UK general insurance operation as satisfactory, he wanted a new face to lead efforts to expand the business.

They said Mr Wilson felt that the division, which sells products including motor, home and commercial insurance, could do more to capitalise on Aviva’s extensive life business, possibly through more cross-selling.

Aviva rebuffed a £5bn offer for the UK general insurance business from rival RSA three years ago during the tenure of Andrew Moss, former chief executive who quit after a pay row last year.

Some analysts think Aviva’s recent rejig of its complex financial structure – the holding company owes billions of pounds worth of internal debt to the division – would make it easier to sell the operation.

However, senior Aviva managers have denied this is the rationale for the changes to the group’s capital structure.

The UK general insurance business is among the most cash generative of Aviva’s units.

However, it operates in one of the most competitive markets for insurance in the developed world and Mr Spencer – who is also a former chief executive of Aviva Canada – has led a cost-cutting push.

For every pound in premiums it received last year, it incurred 98p in claims costs and other expenses. This was the same as the year before.

In contrast, the general insurance business in Canada incurred 93p in claims costs and other expenses last year – an improvement from 95p a year earlier.

Mr Tulloch delivered a 63 per cent rise in profits at the Canada business during his tenure as chief executive, since 2009.

He has sought to expand Aviva’s use of “predicative analytics” to price insurance policies more accurately – modelling, for example, how the height of buildings affects wind speeds and the risks of storm-related damage to nearby property.

Mr Wilson has said Aviva should be better at sharing expertise across its internal operations and Mr Tulloch’s arrival in the UK should herald the expansion of such techniques in the insurer’s domestic markets.

He joined one of the insurer’s predecessor companies in 1992 and has spent most of his career in Canada – home to Aviva’s second largest general insurance business after the UK – apart from a two-year spell in London.

In a statement, Mr Wilson said Mr Tulloch had an “impeccable track record” and was “the best leader to take the UK business to the next stage of its development.”

He added: “Robin has done a fine job for the group, most recently leading the UK & Ireland GI business through the transformation and expense savings programme.

I would like to thank Robin for his considerable contribution to Aviva and he leaves the group with our best wishes.”

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