From the so-called “Angry Summer” of bushfires to the East Coast Low high wind event in February through to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has been an extremely challenging time for all involved in Australian insurance. It’s heartening, then, to hear Hollard Insurance CEO Richard Enthoven’s optimism about the industry’s outlook.
“We’ve stood up well to incredibly difficult circumstances, and it’s really become clear that insurance plays an incredibly valuable role in Australian society,” Enthoven (pictured above) told Insurance Business. “There will be challenges for the industry, of course, but, overall, I’m positive about what the future holds for Hollard and insurance in general.”
Since founding the Australian branch of Hollard in 1999, Enthoven has overseen the company’s rapid growth. Key to this success is the people that form Hollard, and so, when the coronavirus reached Australian shores earlier this year, unique measures were quickly implemented to provide some peace of mind for employees.
“In March, there was a lot of uncertainty about how COVID-19 would impact our business and, in turn, immediate job security for Hollardites,” Enthoven said. “After discussing our options, and in service of our company purpose to ‘Empower a Resilient Future’, we established a Hollard Charter.
“Our strategic goals were to prioritise the jobs of our people in step with our commitment to meeting our existing obligations to our 800,000+ policyholders. Our shareholder agreed to forgo dividends for three years, our board and the Hollard executive team voluntarily took a temporary pay cut, and Hollardites participated by forgoing merit increases and discretionary bonuses in 2020. In return for these shared sacrifices, we collectively prioritised avoiding COVID-related redundancies from May to September 2020.”
The rapid response provided comfort to many Hollard stakeholders during a troubling time, Enthoven noted, and helped to foster a “shared sense of commitment – we were able to establish, there and then, that we’re all in this together.”
For Enthoven, this sense of commitment extends to issues and causes that exist well beyond Hollard’s bottom line. As a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, he is proud of the fact that women now make up more than half of the company’s workforce, and he serves on the advisory board of Head Over Heels – a NFP that supports a portfolio of high-potential women-owned businesses.
Enthoven is also an active champion of Male Champions of Change (MCC) and has taken the MCC Panel Pledge to decline speaking engagements unless there is equal gender representation. He told Insurance Business of his admiration at the fact that over 85% of Hollard’s senior leaders have followed his example by taking Hollard’s own gender equality pledge themselves.
“I’m proud our leaders have gone a step further by also committing to step up as inclusive leaders and promoting the achievements of women within Hollard and our industry,” he noted.
In addition, Enthoven is also a past president and chairman of the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), and remains part of the council’s board to this day. During his time as ICA president, Enthoven “made it a mission to take a position on climate change because it will continue to have a profound impact on insurance and Australia in general.”
“There are significant opportunities for growing our economy while dealing with climate change,” Enthoven remarked. “This can only be achieved, however, by developing an infrastructure-led economy that allows for resilience during natural disasters and other climate events to be built into Australian communities.”
Looking towards Hollard once more, Enthoven expressed admiration for how the company has responded during this difficult period.
“I’m heartened to see how we’ve reacted and continued to work with a shared goal in mind,” he said. “We’re a purpose-led organisation and, by empowering resilience of our stakeholders we can contribute to a better future for customers, partners, communities and all Hollardites.”