What can advisers expect from the change in management at LV=? New managing director of protection Myles Rix gives his first interview to Fiona Murphy
In August 2014, LV= hurriedly announced the departure of its managing director of protection, Iain Clark. LV= said Clark had left the business to “spend more time with his family.”
Shortly after, in October 2014, LV=’s former head of protection Mark Jones left the insurer. Jones role was not replaced.
Their two roles have been consolidated into one and have been filled by LV=’s former commercial and financial director Myles Rix. He is now the managing director of LV=’s protection business.
Rix had been at LV= for four years, initially joining as actuarial and strategy director before becoming the finance and commercial director for LV=’s life and pensions business.
Prior to working at LV=, Rix was at Aviva UK Health for 11 years in roles including head of protection and financial and commercial director. He started his career at Skandia Life where he held roles in pricing, product development and financial reporting.
Rix certainly holds an impressive CV and a thorough internal knowledge of LV=. But with any major change, the big question will always be, what does this mean for the insurer? Will the changing of the guard translate into changes at LV=?
Clearly this is something advisers may have been anticipating. However, Rix is keen to alleviate fears and stress that for the moment, in a period of great change, the message is business as usual for advisers.
He says: “I was already within the business – that meant I know the team, some of our products and propositions already. I’m familiar with many of our key accounts and commercials because I’ve worn that side of it and I have all of the relationships with our reinsurers. So I started with a fair degree of a head start as a result of that.
“My successor was also appointed from within, so that enabled me to make a relatively quick transition into the role. It has been very pleasing to hit the ground running and not go through the first phase of acclimatisation that one usually has to do in a new role.”
Rix’s appointment comes during a period of relative instability for life offices.
Many advisers may be wondering what the changes mean and what happens with new people come in. So what are his plans for 2015 amid the internal changes at LV=?
He says: “I assume you are referencing both Iain and Mark, who were big names and well-known throughout the protection industry. It doesn’t signal a fundamental change of direction for us. We’re committed to the protection market.
“I have put a new hire into the team. We’re not seeking to scale down or change our team composition.”
He continues: “We are about growth in the protection market. We think it is an important market for consumers. And we believe it’s an important market for society in general.
“We also think that we offer something different and fresh within the market, and we are keen to continue to grow particularly with our strong position in income protection. That is a product that we believe meets consumer needs very strongly and very directly.
“That is particularly our area of expertise – we are experts in income both before and after. Our retirement business focuses on annuities and income drawdown. Our protection business is very strongly about protecting peoples’ income.“
Going back to Rix’s point about the team structure, who is the new hire that he briefly mentioned?
“A gentleman named Richard Hoad is now in my team. He is looking after the intermediated part of our business, and is working through our change programme and our decisions around commercial choices that need to be made in that part of the business. He won’t be a name familiar to people in the industry.
“From our point of view, it is pleasing that again we’ve been able to promote from within. It reflects the strength of the team we have built here. Yes, there have been some departures. But we have been able to fulfil all of the roles we require and it’s been good to bring talent from within the business into new roles.”
What about the wider protection industry? What is Rix’s view of how the industry will develop throughout 2015?
“I don’t think we anticipate fundamental disruption in 2015 the way
we did with elements such as the gender directive [in 2013], which were notable shifts. 2015 will be a continuation of current trends. We haven’t planned for – or anticipated – the industry and the market suddenly turning into a period
of accelerated growth. It has been benign for some time and we anticipate that to continue.
“Nonetheless, we think we have strong propositions to bring to the market and we think advisers recognise that. There are good opportunities for us in the market regardless of its overall scale.”
It is clear that 2015 is going to be a big year for insurers. Aviva announced its merger with Friends Life in December 2014, in a deal to make the two firms the largest life office in the UK. Aviva also announced an intention last year to revive the direct salesforce prior to the deal being announced.
Before the news, in September Friends Life announced it would restructure its business from a product focus to four segments: workplace and intermediated; customer marketing and engagement; proposition and pricing; and customer service.
Steve Payne, the then managing director for UK protection, left the business and the firm’s group director of protection David Williams is also set to depart.
Business as usual
In other big news, AIG is buying Ageas Protect and Scottish Widows’ intermediary offering will go live during 2015. Are LV= predicting any fundamental changes as their life office peers gear up for change? Rix says no, adding that there is nothing on the horizon and expects business as usual to continue for LV=.
“[Those changes are] exciting for those involved. For us, the fundamentals of what consumers need remains unchanged.
“We are in a fortunate position that we can focus on advisers and our customers. We don’t have any of those wider corporate issues to distract us, perhaps.”
One thing Rix is certain of is LV=’s unwavering commitment to the advised market: “We fundamentally believe in advice and advisers. We would say it is the first best route for consumers to meet their protection needs.”
But when I ask if we can expect any new propositions or policy changes, Rix remains tight-lipped: “I’m not planning on making any fundamental changes to products. We have been strong on innovating our products and have some things we will continue to bring to market. I wouldn’t want people to know what we’re going to bring to the market until we’re ready.”
In terms of steering LV=, Rix sounds like a safe, certain pair of hands in a time of uncertainty for the wider market. LV= says it will continue as business as usual. But when will it gear up to meet the innovations and big changes from its peers?
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