The Business On... Andrew Moss, Chief executive, Aviva

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The Independent Online

Happy days at Aviva?

Well, up to a point. The usually softly spoken Mr Moss was a shade defensive yesterday. Some in the City think his company should be broken up and the shares have been rather flat over the last year. He thinks the cost savings and targets he announced are ambitious and stretching and he wants that recognised.

What's the problem?

Well, Aviva is kind of boring, and if there's one thing the City doesn't like it's boredom. Companies are either supposed to be racing up or crashing back to earth. Aviva sort of plods along,a bit like its share price. Mr Moss is hoping that his cost-cutting plan – including the closure of the final salary pension scheme – will get the market excited again.

What like last year?

No, not like last year. That was when Mr Moss had to admit an affair with a (married) colleague. It's the business we're supposed to get excited about. It is Britain's biggest insurer, after all.

I thought all these insurance chiefs were supposed to be dull?

Actually the current crop are anything but. Tidjane Thiam, the boss of Aviva's rival Prudential, was once a finance minister of the Ivory Coast until a coup intervened. His job is a trifle less secure than Mr Moss's, though.

Why is that then?

Well, Mr Thiam tried to create a bit of excitement by taking over AIA in Asia. It all went spectacularly wrong. Mr Moss might have an exciting private life but, when it comes to business, it is more steady as she goes. And let's be honest, we would rather have at least part of the financial services industry solid, safe and dependable — Aviva has not been without bumps in the road but, compared to the banks, it is very safe.

What else can you tell us about Mr Moss?

Well, he is 52 and a father of four. He took over Aviva from Richard Harvey in 2007. The latter also disproved the stereotype of the dull insurance executive: he quit to spend a year doing charity work in Africa.

Look, you keep making this lot sound interesting. It's insurance!

I know, I know. But if you will insist on these old stereotypes, there is always Tim Breedon at L&G.