New Aon CEO shakes up financial businesses

Lambros Lambrou

New Aon Risk Solutions CEO Lambros Lambrou is making his presence felt, integrating the firm’s existing financial businesses into one operation.

The Financial Specialties segment takes in Mergers and Acquisitions, Environmental Services, Trade Credit and Surety and Financial Services, and is aimed at giving clients a single point of access.

“The depth and range of solutions offered by the enhanced segment is a key differentiator for Aon Risk Solutions,” Lambrou says.

“The decision to bring these specialist teams together means we can leverage strength to maximise the value we provide clients, delivering growth and improving the scale of our technical and subject matter capability across key market segments.”

Jennifer Richards, the previous Client Director of Aon’s M&A Solutions, will head up the 30-strong team.

Lambrou sat down with IRP recently to discuss his vision for Aon and the future of the insurance industry.

Read the full interview below.

Insurance & Risk Professional: You’ve worked extensively in Australia previously. How ready do you feel?

Lambros Lambrou: I was here for 17 years until six years ago. My career with Aon started in 1986 in London, where I worked on the wholesale broking side with the Lloyd’s market for six or seven years before I came to the Australian market in 1992. I worked on the reinsurance side and then moved across to the direct side I moved to the States in 2008, to the head office in Chicago for three years during a time when Aon was coming together as a global business.

In the three years I had in Chicago I worked in a number of areas where we felt we could differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and provide the best solutions and advice to our customers. In the latter part of my time in Chicago I was also involved in the emergence of analytics, taking the data that we are able to extract from our business and creating insights with it.

IRP: There has been a lot of talk about the importance of big data. Are your efforts here bearing fruit?

LL: For us it continues to be a journey. We really are now starting to see some great things in terms of what it’s enabling us to do.

What we’re able to do is really assess what is happening in the marketplace, both in terms of rates and buyer behaviour around deductibles.

We now also have a global benchmarking database and we can, in a matter of minutes, put together a global benchmarking report for a client, which previously would have taken forever and multiple phone calls.

The data has also helped us around product innovation. Earlier this year we launched Aon Sidecar. We could not have done that without data, period. The other area that we are looking at is that clients and carriers are increasingly interested in understanding what is the risk management gene that you need to have within a client who dictates how your risk profile behaves.

Insurers are interested in aligning with those clients who have the best risk profiles. Trying to figure out what is the risk management gene that actually drives that is difficult. With the Wharton Business School, we’ve developed something called the Risk Maturity Index, which pulls data from our clients and asks them what they do around risk management. The very interesting thing is we’re able to positively correlate the index number with shareholder return.

Insurance is potentially losing its relevance to its customer base.

IRP: What are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?

LL: Globally, if you look at insurance premiums as a percentage of GDP it’s going backwards. Some could turn around and say that’s because the market is soft but the bigger issue for us is that it is sending a message that insurance is potentially losing its relevance to its customer base.

We do annual research with our clients all over the world around risk management trends and what have you. When we ask executives from the C-suite what are the top 10 risks that they see today, what is keeping them awake at night, six of the top 10 are currently not insurable risks.

So, for us we look at that and say that is a wonderful opportunity for the insurance industry to make itself more relevant to clients and that’s great.

There can’t be too many industries out there with that sort of opportunity in front of them.

IRP: When you arrive, what will your first order of business be?

LL: My key areas of focus are going to be around seven themes, and they all happen to begin with the letter C because it’s easier for me to remember that way. It’s going to be Clients, Colleagues, Carriers, Culture, Connectivity, Communication and a Change agent.

You can look forward to greater innovation. I don’t say that on the basis that we haven’t been innovating in Australia. It’s just the journey never stops. As the insights we are able to develop from either the data that we have or the feedback that we get from clients become more granular then that is going to enable us to innovate and be more effective in providing insurance advice to our customers.

IRP: What do you hope to achieve in the medium term?

LL: Growth is a very important one for us. We’ve just been through a significant program of work called the Change for Success program. Our operating model is now exactly where we want it to be. For me it’s not about structural change; it’s about execution of the strategy.