Spotlight on Otto Thoresen
Director general, Association of British Insurers
The ABI (Association of British Insurers) went through a torrid spell a couple of years ago following the departure of long-serving director general Stephen Hadrill. He was replaced by Australian import Kerrie Kelly, who quit in June 2010 after just six months at the helm of the UK insurers’ trade body. There was another long hiatus before the ABI secured Thoresen, who moved from the top job at life insurer Aegon.
However over the past year and a half, the actuary has put his stamp on the organisation, despite having to commute from his native Scotland on a weekly basis. During that time, the ABI has been at the centre of a number of industry controversies, with insurers attracting particular flak over charges. However, the organisation has responded with a series of initiatives, including the joint code on charges recently published by the ABI with the National Association of Pension Funds.
This job has given me the opportunity to work with people from across the sector to get good results for people in the long-term. It’s an area that has always been close to my heart and it’s been a strong theme for me.
Given how long that the pension reform agenda has been in development, seeing auto-enrolment happen is fantastic. I’m looking ahead to pushing on with the auto-enrolment process. This is about beginning to see change in the savings culture in the UK and making people take more responsibility for their old age .It’s a huge challenge for society and there’s a lot of work afoot to deal with it.
We’ve started important work on transparency and the open market option. The launch of the ABI’s retirement choices code in March: increased transparency around annuity rates is an important step forward for the industry.
All of this is about pension reform and getting the system to work more effectively for consumers.
I’m a great man for focusing on delivering what we’ve begun.We need to get these initiatives across the line, but we also need to keep up the momentum because there are other aspects of the way we deliver pensions solutions that we need to keep improving.