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ABI Board reforms strengthen focus on improving trust

Reforms to the Association of British Insurer’s (ABI) Board have been announced today as part of redoubling the industry’s efforts to boost customer trust, enhance reputation and tackle future risks such as climate change. 

The ABI has announced the following changes: 

  • Recruitment of a new post of independent Chair and an independent non-executive director (NED) - bringing fresh external perspectives, enriching diversity of experience and reinforcing strong governance.  
  • Creation of a new Board-level Reputation and Customers Committee to provide more focus on good customer outcomes and a greater collective focus on issues proving harmful to the sector’s reputation.
  • Announcing Barry O’Dwyer (Group CEO, Royal London) and Cristina Nestares  (UK CEO of Admiral Group plc) as taking new roles of President and Deputy President respectively on the Association of British Insurer’s (ABI) Board. 

The responsibilities of the new Independent Chair will include chairing the ABI Board and the Reputation and Customers Committee as well as line-managing the Director-General. 

The newly-created President and Deputy President roles will lead for the ABI Board on stakeholder engagement and public-facing industry leadership as well as providing internal leadership among the ABI’s members. Barry O’Dwyer and Cristina Nestares will take up these roles from July 1st.  

The new independent Chair and independent NED are expected to be appointed in the autumn. Current Chair Jon Dye and Deputy Chair Julian Adams will continue to chair ABI Board meetings until the new independent Chair begins.

Jon Dye, Chair of the ABI Board, said:

“These changes will enrich our Board with new independent perspectives while ensuring industry leaders continue to be the voice of the sector in discussions with governments and regulators.

Given the sheer range of challenges the insurance and long-term savings sector faces, our Board has to operate more effectively than ever before. The appointment of the independent Chair and NED will bring valuable insights and help mitigate the risk of group-think.

At the same time, we know many senior stakeholders hugely value dealing direct from experienced industry leaders and we are delighted to announce Barry and Cristina as the ABI’s first President and Deputy President. They bring a wealth of expertise as we face into major issues including improving customer trust and reputation and tackling climate change.” 

Barry O’Dwyer said:

“It is a privilege to have been trusted by colleagues across the industry to take up the position of President and represent the sector on the big challenges we face. Whether it is making our sector more diverse, freeing our opportunities to invest in the future through Solvency II reform, customer reforms to improve trust or leading the race to net zero, we must lift our ambitions and work closely with Government and regulators on the challenges ahead.” 

Cristina Nestares said:

“I am excited to work with Barry, the new independent Chair and ABI Board on the big agenda we have ahead. We must ensure our sector continues to deliver for customers, and is the destination of choice for the brightest and the best talent. We have a lot of work ahead but I can’t wait to get started.” 

Huw Evans, Director-General of the ABI, said:

“I would like to put on record again my thanks to Jon Dye and Julian Adams, who have led the ABI’s Board with such vision, commitment and sure-footed skill over the past two eventful years. We are all very grateful to them.”

Changes to the ABI Board in full: 

  • The changes announced today have been approved by the ABI Board and are subject to a formal vote at the AGM in October, which would amend the ABI’s constitution.
  • The responsibilities of the Independent Chair will include chairing the ABI Board, a new Reputation and Customers Committee and being a member of the Appointments and Remuneration Committee. They may also chair or attend other key Board sub-groups.
  • The responsibilities of the independent NED will include being a member of the ABI Board, the Audit Committee the Reputation and Customers Committee and the Appointments and Remuneration Committee. They may also attend other key Board sub-groups. They will take on the Board’s Senior Independent Director responsibilities.
  • The responsibilities of the President include being a lead voice for the sector in discussions with stakeholders; chairing the Appointments and Remuneration Committee and being a member of the ABI Board and the Reputation and Customers Committee.
  • The responsibilities of the Deputy President include being a key voice for the sector in discussions with stakeholders; being a member of ABI Board,the Appointments and Remuneration Committee and the Reputation and Customers Committee.
  • Barry O’Dwyer was appointed Group Chief Executive of Royal London in 2019. He began his career at Standard Life in 1988 and qualified as an actuary.  He was Managing Director, Marketing of Standard Life when he left in 2007 to join HBOS.  He moved to Prudential in 2009 and was Deputy Chief Executive of their UK & Europe business when he left in 2013 to return to Standard Life plc.  In March 2017, Barry became CEO, Pensions & Savings and joined the Board of Standard Life plc.  Following the merger with Aberdeen Asset Management and the sale of Standard Life Assurance to Phoenix Group, he became head of Standard Life Aberdeen’s UK business.  He served as chair of the ABI’s Long-Term Savings Committee on the ABI Board between 2015-18. He re-joined the Board in 2019 as Group CEO of Royal London.
  • Cristina Nestares is UK Chief Executive Officer of Admiral Group plc. Cristina joined Admiral Group in 2005 following the completion of her MBA at INSEAD Business School. She began her Admiral career by founding Admiral’s Spanish Insurance operation (Admiral Seguros) which she successfully ran for 7 years. Cristina then expanded her remit, managing both the group’s Insurance and Price Comparison businesses in France, Italy and Spain, before taking on her current role of Admiral UK CEO in 2016. In total, Cristina has over 18 years’ international experience predominantly gained within the financial service sector, with other areas including consulting and non-profit organisations, and has completed an Advanced Management Programme at Harvard University.

Last updated 01/07/2021