The Business On... John McFarlane, chairman-designate, Aviva

The insurer that used to be called Norwich Union?

That's the one. Mr McFarlane, it was announced yesterday, will join Aviva's board as a non-executive director in September, become deputy chairman in January and then succeed the current chairman, Lord Sharman, next July.

So Aviva is planning ahead?

As it should be – ensuring succession at the top goes smoothly is crucial to avoid disruption at a big company such as Aviva. Actually, this recruitment exercise has been going on for some time and Mr McFarlane wasn't even the first choice. Aviva had wanted Sir Richard Broadbent, but he's agreed to chair Tesco instead.

Is it settling for second best?

Don't worry, Mr McFarlane comes with impeccable credentials. He spent more than 20 years working in senior positions at Citigroup and Standard Chartered, but really made his name with a 10-year stint as chief executive of Australia and New Zealand Bank (ANZ). He's a non-executive director at Royal Bank of Scotland too, and at Westfield, the Australian shopping centres group.

Is he from down under?

He has dual British and Australian citizenship these days, but he's a Scotsman by birth – he's from Dumfries, in fact.

A Scottish banker, then?

One of the most distinguished, even if his appointment at RBS – after its rescue – raised a few eyebrows in the local banking community, many of whom weren't familiar with the way he had tripled the size of ANZ.

Any other strings to his bow?

Strings is the right word. Capital Radio once asked him to join its board after learning of his prowess on the guitar. He was a member of a Scottish rock band called Sekrets during the Sixties.

So Aviva is lucky to have him?

Yes, though not everyone may ultimately see it that way. There are already rumours that Mr McFarlane might seek to shake up the insurer's senior management, amid concerns in some parts of the City that its performance has not been up to scratch.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot