Scots-born CEO vows to ‘re-energise’ Aviva after unveiling full-year results

Aviva’s Scots-born chief executive said he is determined to “re-energise” the insurer as it became the latest firm to flag pressure from Brexit uncertainties.

The insurance giant, which announced Maurice Tulloch as CEO earlier this week, said it would be “difficult to sustain” the earnings growth notched up over the past two years in the face of Brexit-related woes.

But Tulloch said he sees “huge opportunity” in the insurer as it reported a 2 per cent rise in underlying operating profits to £3.1 billion in 2018.

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Tulloch said: “We have strong foundations but we are only scratching the surface of our full potential. There’s a huge opportunity here. At the heart of it, it’s all about insurance fundamentals, delivering excellent customer experience, tackling complexity and injecting a different pace of change into Aviva.”

Earnings per share grew 7 per cent last year, although this was boosted by share buybacks, debt reduction and reserve releases due to changes in life expectancy.

Aviva unveiled a “difficult year” for the investment market, with earnings in its fund management arm, Aviva Investors, down 11 per cent at £150m.

But its UK general insurance arm saw operating profits lift 4 per cent to £415m.

Earnings rose 7 per cent to £198m across its long-term savings business.

The group said: “Given current uncertainties, including the unknown future impacts of Brexit on the economies of the United Kingdom and Europe, our near-term outlook entering 2019 is more muted than our outlook a year ago.”

Aviva’s comments on Brexit follow approval last month for the firm to transfer around £9bn in assets to a new Irish company ahead of Brexit.