Business Strategy and Outlook| Henry Heathfield, CFA |
As a good middle-of-the-road insurer Aviva has had its fair share of problems over the years. As with many previously poorly run companies, these issues have stretched across leverage, controls, turnover and likely relatedly, its sprawling business portfolio. While prior leadership teams tried to get a handle on this business, up until now none have really done so. We mainly attribute this to a focus on growth and innovation, without a focus on strong capital management and discipline. Mark Wilson’s tenure was characterized by the Friends Life acquisition, the digital garage and his appointment at BlackRock. It felt like Maurice Tulloch would tilt the business more toward general insurance but we think it is likely that the business' problems became too much for him. Present CEO Amanda Blanc is now set on making things right and has divested noncore assets, promising now to focus on the U.K., Ireland, and Canada.