PROSPECTS REMAIN GOOD FOR EUROPE IN THE LONG TERM

Q&A: THE VIEW FROM DAVOS

Q. WHAT HAS THE MOOD BEEN LIKE AT DAVOS THIS YEAR?

A. The World Economic Forum has inevitably had a somewhat sombre feel but it has also been business-like and focused. What struck me was the universal focus on the issue of the young unemployed, not just in the developed world but also in Africa and the Arab world. Approached constructively, this may be channeled into a positive force, but the worrying alternative is the possibility of social unrest.

Q. REGULATION HAS BEEN A HOT TOPIC IN DAVOS THIS YEAR. WHERE DOES AVIVA STAND ON THE ISSUE?

A. The development of an appropriate regulatory model for financial services remains especially important. When it’s right, regulation plays a key role in protecting customers, promoting financial stability and ensuring responsible companies operate on a level playing field. With the high pace of regulatory and supervisory reform, attention needs to be paid to making sure that regulation is effective and doesn’t add excessive costs to either customers or businesses.

Q. WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK?

A. We mustn’t talk ourselves into a deeper level of gloom than is wise or even accurate. The spotlight is on the Eurozone but we shouldn’t forget how much Europe has to offer as a market. There are deep strengths here that get overlooked by some commentators.

Q. AND WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN FOR AVIVA?

A. We’re in good shape because of the actions we’ve taken over the last few years, such as improving our efficiency and increasing our geographic focus. Insurance is a long-term business and Europe’s long-term prospects remain good. People are saving money and they will certainly need to save more because governments aren’t going to be able to fund people in retirement in the way they have over the last few decades. Our job is to be there for our 44m customers in times of need and to help provide prosperity and peace of mind – never more important than at times like these.