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HOW WILL CUSTOMER FOCUS BE KEY TO SWISS RE?

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HOW WILL CUSTOMER FOCUS BE KEY TO SWISS RE?

Swiss Reinsurance Co.'s goal is: "To be the leading force in the risk transfer industry, combining professional resources and skills with customer focus to deliver economic profit growth."

For readers of Business Insurance Europe the two most important of those 23 carefully crafted words will be the 17th and 18th—"customer" and "focus".

For staff of Swiss Re and the recently acquired people of General Electric Insurance Solutions the most important words will presumably be the 12th, 13th and 15th — "professional", "resources"and "skills".

Only ten years ago the chairman and chief executive of any insurance and reinsurance company may well have been mainly focused on the 4th and 5th words—"leading" and "force".

But times have changed and it is a pretty fair bet that Swiss Re's chief executive Jacques Aigrain will actually use the 21st, 22nd and 23rd words—"economic", "profit" and "growth"—far more frequently between now and the annual results conference call at which his performance will be judged.

Mr. Aigrain has identified four key building blocks to deliver that goal. These are to:

Generate economic profit through "intelligent" cycle management and efficient capital allocation;

Reduce earnings volatility through the group's capital market expertise, scale and diversification;

Expand territorially through organic growth and transactions to "address the needs" of its clients;

Advance organizational excellence through efficient processes, innovative skills and professional expertise.

Mr. Aigrain says that the acquisition of G.E.'s Insurance Solutions business delivers two of those strategic objectives—diversification and growth.

The growth is obvious. Swiss Re's $22.3bn net premium earned plus Insurance Solutions' $5.7bn produces a combined total of $28bn. The diversification is less obvious on top line numbers as Swiss Re's 36% of life and health business becomes only 35% post merger, property stays the same at 21%, specialty drops from 16% to 15% and liability falls from 16% to 15%.

But within the headline numbers there is some significant change. Swiss Re will see a near doubling in its regional and specialty client business, particularly with smaller companies in the Mid-West of the United States.

The addition of a so-called "multi-niche" commercial insurance book will balance Swiss Re's large corporate risk business and the company says that the US casualty facultative portfolio is now more balanced by both territory and risk types.

The group will also enjoy a higher market share and portfolio diversification in aviation, marine and agricultural business and a higher market share in life and health in Europe, particularly in Germany and the United Kingdom.