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Aviva Life will ride digital wave for next phase of growth, says CEO Trevor Bull

Hindu Business Line
August 28, 2015

The reality is that 10 years ago people did not use tablets and mobile phones as much as they do now, says Trevor Bull, the new CEO and Managing Director of Aviva Life Insurance Company India. And, it is this significant shift in the way people live their lives that is prompting the company to “refresh” itself and look at a “strategic shift” in its operating model in India. “Digital will be the core,” Bull said, seated in his swanky office at Gurgaon, as he shared his plans for Aviva Life with Business Line in his first interview in India after assuming charge early this year. The aspiration clearly is to be as good and nimble as an ecommerce player and understand better the changing lifestyles of customers, he said, pointing out that the best companies in the world continue to reinvent themselves and align to customer expectations. Edited excerpts: 

Hindu Business Line: What will be your focus areas? Have you devised a new business plan for Aviva Life in India? 

Trevor Bull: We have firmed up a new roadmap after a lot of research on customers. Our business plan for the next three-five years is almost ready and being discussed with our shareholders. By the end of this calendar year, we should start implementing it. Digital will be the core, while we look to align ourselves with changing lifestyles of our customers.

Hindu Business Line: Why digital? 

Trevor Bull: We have to catch up and we can’t anymore interact with customers in the same way as we are used to. Other retail distributors are leaving us behind. We will go with multi-channel distribution, but would like to expand our digital play. Going digital has tremendous benefits, such as consistency, access to information, etc. In fact, ‘Digital First’ is one of the top three strategies of Aviva globally.   

Hindu Business Line: What are the initiatives you plan in the digital space? 

Trevor Bull: We now have an agents’ portal. Very soon, we will re-launch our web site that will be mobile compatible. There are also plans to launch a mobile app. We also want to increase digitisation in our headquarters and all our branches.   There is too much of paper moving around. The idea is to have a fully digitised ecosystem to help us spend more time with our customers who trust us with their hard-earned money.   

Hindu Business Line: What are your other priorities?

Trevor Bull: We want to improve the quality of advice given by us (agents, bancassurance partners). We also want to expand the footprint via bank partners. The other important focus area is to increase our brand visibility.   
Aviva Plc has announced plans to hike its stake in the Indian unit to 49 per cent. How will this transaction happen? Will it lead to capital coming into the company or will it be one between joint venture partners? 
This is something you will have to ask the shareholders. All I can say is that both the shareholders are committed to the Indian market. We are here for the long haul. There is good appetite among them to infuse more capital into the joint venture.  There is so much opportunity to tap in the life insurance market here in India.   

Hindu Business Line: What is the current business mix between unit-linked insurance plans and traditional products? Any plan to reorient focus on this front? 

Trevor Bull: As of end-December 2014, we were 26 per cent ULIPs and 74 per cent traditional products. Going forward, it could be a mix of both, with no particular preference. It won’t be a simple ULIP or a traditional one.  Ultimately, the effort will be to listen to customers and meet their needs. Focus will be on protection.

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