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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

You’re our top priority, new Suncorp chief tells brokers

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Brokers will play a crucial role in Suncorp’s future strategy, new Group CEO Steve Johnston says.

He told that recent “noise” surrounding the insurer’s Marketplace strategy had masked “good work being done in other areas” and wrongly gave the impression that intermediaries had slipped down the priority list.

“Our previous narrative was very retail-centric and I have been very focused on making sure brokers understand how important they are to us as partners, and providing better service to them as they interact with their customers,” he said.

“It’s a key part of what we are going to do over the next couple of years. The team that has been working on that area has been really focused on [brokers] but our narrative has made it seem like they have been less of a priority.

“They haven’t, and shouldn’t be. Brokers will be a top priority going forward.

“We have been doing some good stuff, but the narrative just became overwhelmed by discussions around the Marketplace. Our strategy was far broader than the Marketplace… but it just got lost in all the noise.”

Mr Johnston was confirmed Group CEO yesterday, after holding the role in an acting capacity since the departure of Michael Cameron in May.

He had already outlined a revised strategy at Suncorp’s full-year results announcement last month, shifting emphasis away from the Marketplace strategy towards its core banking and insurance identity.

Mr Johnston also scotched market and analyst speculation the company is looking to spin-off its bank.

“What tends to happen if you oversell the narrative and you aspire to something that is unrealistic or very difficult to achieve, the attention starts to move away from the core of your business,” he told yesterday.

“I am very keen to make sure that we get back to focusing on what is important to an insurance company and a bank.

“We have got great brands – they are very valuable. We need to invest in them, we need to support them, we need to make sure they are lined up against their target markets.”

Marketplace CEO Pip Marlow left the company last month, but Mr Johnston is not anticipating other high-level changes.

“We had a few changes around the results time, which was appropriate given the change of emphasis,” he said.

“But the team as it currently stands is a very strong team.”