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Author, Angela Urso, Consultant at Leathwaite.

Our insurance technology market update explores the key people moves, trends and themes over the past year. From a technology perspective, the insurance industry continues to play catch-up with the wider financial services sector but the gap between the two is shrinking. 2015 was an active year for hiring and 2016 looks on course to replicate the trend. As the technology sector shows no sign of slowing down on its digital journey, insurance is another sector eager to follow suit.

2015 was a year of transformation for the insurance technology industry; this was demonstrated by the numerous and varied appointments that took place, but additionally by the emergence of a new age of insurance technology and the arrival of InsurTech. A wave of innovative ideas and products flooded the market threatening to disrupt the insurance industry.

The high volume of hiring activity can, to a certain extent, be attributed to the movement at the chief executive level. With organisational restructures being driven from the top down it is also worth taking note of some of the CEO changes that have happened:

  • Aviva appointed Colm Holmes as Chief Executive Officer of Aviva UK General Insurance. Maurice Tulloch was promoted to Chairman
  • Luisa Barile has been promoted to CEO of Charles Taylor Insurance Services from chief operating officer of non-life insurance support services
  • Steve Hearn joined Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford as CEO, from Willis
  • Generali SpA appointed Philippe Donnet as Chief Executive Officer
  • Towergate has hired David Ross as Group CEO
  • Uinsure has hired Barry Smith, as a non-executive director from Ageas where he was previously UK Chief Executive
  • Zurich appointed ex Generali CEO Mario Greco as its new Group CEO

In addition to the significant number of appointments, insurers are placing renewed attention on the quest for profitable growth. 2015 was the year of mergers and acquisitions within the insurance industry with a number of insurers joining forces in response to the Solvency II capital regime.

Key Themes:
InsureTech emerges as a new trend. 2015 saw the arrival of the first UK insurance accelerator. A number of large insurers including Allianz, AXA and Hiscox have invested in new ideas and products. Among the hot areas are price comparison, where insurance giants have invested in comparison start-ups for parking, auto insurance and car repair.

2015 has been a significant year for mergers and acquisitions within the insurance industry including; ACE and Chubb, XL and Catlin, Aviva and Friends Life. Insurers are keen to partner with associates, whether in specialised products to diversify their portfolio, or to combine forces with others to create synergies and reduce costs.

Advanced analytics in relation to customer behaviour continues to be an area of focus. Insurers are recognising the benefits of using advanced analytics to develop products and distribution strategies. A number of insurers have created functions dedicated purely to data and behaviour analytics.

Some of the latest moves and hires in the global insurance technology market include:

  • Mark Bloom has joined Aegon as Global CTO, from Citi where he was the Global Head of Consumer Digital and Operations Technology
  • Kevin Miller has joined Aegis as the COO, from Aspen where he was the UK Operations Director
  • Lyn Grobler joined Hyperion as CIO, from BP where she was Corporate CIO
  • Joe Cooper, CIO of ManuLife is exiting the organisation and is being replaced by Gregory Framke who joined in January. He was formerly COO at E*Trade
  • David Nichols joined Zurich as UK GI Chief Operating Officer, from Endsleigh Insurance

Other notable hires and moves over the last 12 months:

  • Annabelle Bexiga joined AIG as the Commercial Insurance Business Information Officer from TIAA-CREF
  • Mike Brady joined AIG as Global CTO from Kaiser Permanente
  • Sean Connelly joined AJ Gallagher as the Global CIO from Guggenheim Partners
  • David Jack joined Metapack to be Group CIO from Hyperion. He also became Chair of the Technical Advisory Board at AJ Gallagher
  • Jacob Abboud joined Allianz as CIO, Insurance, from Legal and General
  • Adam Warwick joined Aviva as CIO, General Insurance, from Zurich where he was the Director of Business Change and IT
  • Pete Marsden joined Aviva as CIO, Digital. Pete was previously CIO of
  • Steve Cottrell joined Aviva as the CISO for UK & Ireland, from Vodafone where he was the Chief Technology Security Officer – Africa, Middle East, Australasia
  • Marta Zarraga joined Aviva as the CTO, from Vodafone
  • Jason Sahota joined Charles Taylor as Group CIO, from KPMG where he was a director within the CIO advisory practice
  • Sharmila Thayer joined Charles Taylor as Director of Application & Production Management, from E2Exchange where she was the Chief Digital Officer
  • Darren Coomer joined Co-operative Insurance as Interim CIO
  • Tom Maleczek joined Charles Taylor as CTO, from KPMG
  • Denise McDonagh joined Direct Line to be the Interim CIO, from Home Office where she was the CTO. Denise reports directly into Steve Maddock the MD of Claims and Business Services
  • Ron Guerrier joined Farmers Insurance Group as CIO, from Toyota
  • Bruce Hodges joined Generali as the Group Head of IT Systems, from NN Group where he was the CIO
  • Conor Whelan joined JLT Group as Group CIO, from logistics firm TNT
  • Brent Kruger joined JLT as Interim CIO for LATAM, from Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford where he was Group CIO
  • Tony Spilsbury became Interim CIO for Lloyds Insurance. He was previously a director within the quality assurance division
  • Helen Crooks joined Lloyd’s of London as Chief Data Officer. She was previously the Group Head of Customer Data for Tesco
  • John Brisco joined Manulife as Chief Information Officer and Chief Operations Officer for Manulife’s Asia division. John was previously CIO (Emerging Markets) and COO (Latin America) at QBE
  • Phil Jones joined Prudential as UK Change Director, he was previously the CIO at Lloyds Insurance
  • Darren McKenzie moved to RSA to become the COO for the UK and Western Europe, from Santander Consumer Bank
  • Gordon Walters joined Towergate as Interim CIO, from Deloitte
  • Adam Braff joined Zurich as Global Head of Data and Analytics, from DIRECTV where he oversaw the analytics function

What should we expect?

It is clear that several wider trends complement what we have witnessed from the talent moves that we have discussed in this overview.

There have been a number of instances over the last 12 months where a change in CEO has acted as a catalyst for organisational personnel cutbacks and hires.

It is a well-known fact that two key motivators to move are both related to leadership change: the relationship an individual has with their line manager being one, whilst a close second is leadership direction and style of the organisation.

This trend is also aligned with M&A activity, where the uncertainty caused by such activity (even rumoured) can unsettle the current team and increase their likelihood of seeking a new role.

InsurTech is definitely shaking up the Iandscape and we expect to see growth of this sector play and increasing role in shaping demand for talent.

In addition we will witness an acceleration of technical change within the sector. The rate of growth, adoption and change is only going to increase, and this will also stimulate variations to the roles and skills that will be required to cope with this change.

How can Leathwaite assist?

With a global network of offices that are constantly communicating with the insurance market, Leathwaite is perfectly placed to advise clients on the future demand cycle for talent. For a discussion on how the talent landscape is changing within this sector, please call Angela Urso on +44 207 151 5151 / email