Zurich reshapes and simplifies group structure

Added 10th June 2016

Mario Greco, the recently appointed chief executive of Zurich Insurance Group, has announced a company-wide reorganisation and named his new leadership team.

Zurich reshapes and simplifies group structure

The reshaping is being driven by the “changed dynamics of the insurance industry and the turning point at which Zurich finds itself”, the company advised.

Changing world

Following large losses and two profit warnings in 2015, the company is in the process of undergoing a more than $1bn (£690.3m, €879.9m) cost cutting and efficiency drive that will impact around 8,000 of Zurich’s 55,000 employees by the end of 2018.

Zurich has been under pressure since it was forced to call off a planned acquisition of UK-based RSA Insurance Group in September 2015, as it struggled to rebuild after incurring heavy losses following the explosions at the Chinese port of Tianjin in August 2015.

The company also closed its Singapore business to new customers in December 2015 and will effectively exit its general insurance business in the Middle East by the end of 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter.    

Leadership restructure

Zurich will be organised in a customer-oriented structure in which the heads of regions (North America; Europe, Middle East and Africa; Latin America; and Asia Pacific), Global Corporate, Farmers, and Investment Management will report to Greco, who left Generali in February to join Zurich.

"We will see greater market focus and simplification, and deliver the transformation we need for future success in a disciplined way.”

Zurich is also creating the new role of chief operating officer, which is a different approach in that it combines responsibility for operations and technology with underwriting, claims, reinsurance, actuarial and pricing, creating a unified sense of purpose and responsibility for technical excellence, efficiency and business transformation across all parts of the business.

As a result, current chief operations and technology officer Robert Dickie has decided to step down by mutual agreement with the board to pursue other opportunities outside Zurich. He has agreed to support the transition and will leave the company in the coming months.

Executive committee

As of 1 July 2016, the Zurich executive committee will be formed of the following members:

  • Mario Greco - group chief executive
  • Urban Angehrn - chief investment officer
  • Jeff Dailey – chief executive of Farmers
  • Mike Foley - chief executive of North America
  • George Quinn - chief financial officer
  • Cecilia Reyes - chief risk officer
  • Gary Shaughnessy - chief executive of Europe, Middle East and Africa
  • Kristof Terryn - chief operating officer

Work already underway

The global businesses will continue to expand and deepen its footprint by offering broad risk solutions - both life and non-life - to customers around the world, Greco advised.  

The new structure is the acceleration and globalisation of work already underway in key markets like Switzerland, Germany and Italy, combining life and non-life under one leadership team and applying a unified go-to-market approach.

“This new organisation will be more agile and more accountable, with a clearer line of sight between the top of the company and the people looking after our customers,” said Greco. “We will approach our target customers with a unified and distinctive face to the market. We will prioritise sound customer outcomes and in so doing ensure that the business delivers consistent levels of profitability.

“I want to renew the sense of an ambitious, entrepreneurial and innovative culture at Zurich, where talented team members put the customer at the centre of everything they do and have all the tools to develop their business within a clearly defined framework towards a shared vision for the company overall.”

Strong prospects

The prospects for the insurance sector are strong in a world of proliferating risks, but the company must adapt to remain effective at helping customers manage those risks, the company added.

“This new organisation and strong accountability, empowerment and outcome orientation will be the foundation for our future strategy. We will see greater market focus and simplification, and deliver the transformation we need for future success in a disciplined way,” said Greco.

“The simplified structure will also allow us to become more efficient and support the implementation of our communicated cost reduction programmes.”

Greco is expected to outline the group's strategy during the fourth quarter of 2016. 

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About Author

Kirsten Hastings

Senior Reporter

Kirsten is a senior reporter for International Adviser, covering global news stories about the financial services industry. She joined Last Word Media in October 2015 after two years working as a reporter covering the staffing and recruitment industry. Kirsten has a Masters in Financial Journalism from the University of Stirling. 


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