Aviva MD on bringing together legacy businesses

"We have asked a lot of our brokers in the last few years"

Aviva MD on bringing together legacy businesses

Insurance News

By Mia Wallace

Bringing together two legacy businesses with their own distinctive cultures, ways of working, client propositions and broker relationships is always an intricate undertaking. So, what happens when you add a third legacy business to the mix?

That has been the task at hand for Ann Owen (pictured) and the team she leads as managing director of Aviva Private Clients over the last three years. Having spent her whole career in the high-net-worth insurance market, Owen joined Aviva as part of the 30-strong team that came across following its acquisition of AXA XL’s private clients business in 2021. Less than a year later, Aviva affirmed its ambition to become the market leader in high-net-worth personal lines when it acquired Azur Underwriting – a deal that brought over another team of 30.

“An acquisition on top of an acquisition probably isn’t the easiest thing you’re ever going to do, but the opportunity was there,” she said. “Aviva already had a team of 50 people doing high-net-worth in Norwich. So, today we stand as a really sizeable high-net-worth team which has been formed from smashing together three legacy businesses.

“When we were moving across from AXA XL, it was a lot of business and a lot of customers and it really was a mammoth effort – and we’ve retained 96% of that business, which if you’d told us would be the case before we did the deal, we wouldn’t have thought possible. Then with Azur, we’ve retained about 87% which we’d targeted as there were a few bits of the business we didn’t necessarily want to bring across. So, we’ve hit or exceeded our benchmark both times, which has been a great success story.”

What complications face the legacy business integration process?

Owen noted that complicating the integration process was the fact that every piece of business that came over from Azur or AXA XL had to be quoted as new business. As an asset purchase agreement rather than a renewal rights deal, she said, every policy had to be manually migrated as a piece of new business – and this is where Aviva’s brokers have proven their mettle.

“We have asked a lot of our brokers in the last few years,” she said. “Because the same brokers have had to migrate both AXA XL and Azur because they had business from both of these legacy businesses. They have been so supportive of us and they’re the reason we’ve got such great retention rates.”

How getting the right cultural mix is the key to leveraging opportunities

Having joined the business as part of one of these migration journeys herself, Owen has first-hand experience of what it means to come together.

“Part of getting that cultural mix right has to do with the nature of our little high-net-worth market,” she said. “Everybody in our market tends to have the same ethos no matter who they work for. It’s very service driven.”

Building a market-leading private clients proposition – what’s next?

Having spent her whole career in high-net-worth, serving in both broking and underwriting roles, supporting the evolution of a healthy and sustainable market is a deeply personal proposition for Owen.

“So, what’s next? That’s the question right now because we’ve all had to dig deep for the last two and a half years,” she said. “We’ve asked a lot of our people and we’ve asked a lot of our brokers, and now we’re entering another year of equally hard work. We’ve secured a very significant investment from Aviva to re-platform with a brilliant high-tech IT system. And as part of that, we’re also going to be launching a new product early next year.”

Having held in-depth discussions with brokers, it became clear that there was a significant gap in the mid-net-worth market as a result of a number of carriers pulling out of that arena over the last 18 months in the UK. This is creating a real problem for brokers and customers, she said, so Aviva is crafting a new tech-driven product on its new platform to support that market segment.

In addition, Owen said, as a result of its acquisitions, the business has ended up with too many products so it is looking to streamline its offering. This will see the closure of the legacy ‘Distinct’ Aviva product with those risks migrated to its new tech-driven product or into its high-net-worth product. Aviva Private Clients’ new slimmed-down offering will now address all private client customer requirements from entry level, all the way up to the UHNW sectors.

“That means that when brokers come to us, they can easily pinpoint where their customer fits within our proposition, which is really exciting,” she said.

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