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A vision of opportunity


A vision of opportunity

As the chief of one of the world’s biggest insurers, AXA’s Henri de Castries has a unique perspective on the challenges facing his industry. But he prefers to focus on the many long-term positives he sees for a company rapidly expanding its global footprint.

Given the many and varied challenges facing the insurance industry, ranging from the global economic downturn to financial instability in Europe to challenges on both the underwriting and investment sides of the balance sheet, it is tempting to fall into the trap of constantly discussing negatives when pondering the state of the industry. And it is fair to say that many insurance and reinsurance executives are happy to bemoan the difficulties they have.

It is very refreshing, therefore, for an insurance executive to turn this dynamic on its head. That is just what Henri de Castries, the chief executive of French insurer AXA, does when asked about the challenges facing his company. He sounds distinctly fed up of hearing this question and focuses instead on the positives he sees.

“For the last five years, most interviews have started with this question,” he says. “But it overshadows the even more important fact that there are significant opportunities for us in the form of structural growth drivers that we can seize. There will be a billion new cars that will need to be insured in the next 20 years; the global over-65 population is forecast to increase three-fold by 2050 triggering new needs for retirement covers, health and protection, estate planning. And they are just two examples. The long-term opportunities are huge!”

AXA, Henri de Castries, Regulation, Solvency II, Insurance, Reinsurance

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