IAG CEO backs ASIC focus

IAG CEO backs ASIC focus | Insurance Business

IAG CEO backs ASIC focus
Peter Harmer, managing director and CEO of IAG, has backed ASIC’s call for a businesses to focus on their culture in a bid to benefit consumers.

In a speech made at the ASIC Annual Forum, held in Sydney earlier this week, chairman Greg Medcraft called on businesses to take a look at their culture as the regulator will begin to “incorporate culture into our risk based surveillance reviews.”

“Fundamentally, good culture is good for the bottom line and it is critical for businesses that want to be around for the long term,” Medcraft said.

“Time and time again, we have seen firms blaming it on a few bad apples driving bad outcomes for consumers, rather than taking responsibility by looking more closely at their organisation and implementing the necessary changes to address the root cause of the problem.

“But most importantly of all, they aspire to building and maintaining a culture that their customers can believe in.

“In setting this culture, actions speak louder than words.”

Harmer told Insurance Business that he agreed with Medcraft’s comments around culture and the importance it plays for consumers.

“Yes, I agree with Greg Medcraft’s comments about the importance of having a customer-centric culture, and also his observation that technology has given customers unprecedented choice,” Harmer said.

“At IAG, we’re investing heavily to improve the experience we create for our customers, and a big part of this is creating an agile culture where our people are empowered to solve customer issues and to speak up about things that could be done better.”

Harmer stressed that small businesses and brokers can also benefit from a commitment to culture as he noted that leadership plays a big role in shaping businesses.

“I do believe leadership sits at the heart of culture, and this is just as true for small businesses and brokers,” Harmer continued.

“It’s important to realise being a leader is not about being the boss. I believe true leadership is almost the reverse – it starts with asking yourself, how can I help or support my team be their best? How can I create an environment where it’s safe to speak up? How can I create opportunities and stretch them to be their best?

“The culture you create will really be an outcome of how you answer these questions.”

Harmer said that at IAG, culture receives continuous investment but the business can still improve.

“We’ve been focusing on creating a positive, constructive culture at IAG for some time now,” Harmer continued.

“We know there’s a clear link between culture and business performance, but more importantly we want to create an environment where our people thrive – where we’re creating opportunities for people to improve and be their best. We believe if we get this right the business outcomes will follow.

“We still have some way to go, but we have seen a significant improvement in leadership and it’s something we’re continuing to invest in.

“We’re also very focused on diversity and creating a workplace that’s genuinely inclusive for all of our people, and again, leadership is key here.”

In his speech, Medcraft stressed “that culture is not something that can be regulated with black letter law,” and called on business to look at their own culture before problems arise.

“We won’t be looking over everyone’s shoulder to test their culture or dictating how a business should be run,” Medcraft said.

“Culture is at the heart of how an organisation and its staff think and behave. It is an issue that companies themselves must address.

“It is the responsibility of each organisation to look at what steps they can take to improve their culture and sustain a ‘customer first’ culture over the long term. At the end of the day, you need to have a culture that your customers can believe in.

“And as we all know, actions speak louder than words.”