The Business On... Otto Thoresen, Director general, ABI

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The Independent Online

A Scandinavian running the British insurance lobby?

Nope. Mr Thoresen's Norwegian name is from his fisherman father who came here during the Second World War, but he's Scottish and is one of the leading lights of the Edinburgh financial scene. After heading Aegon UK (formerly Scottish Equitable) since 2004, he's moving to London to run the Association of British Insurers.



Sounds like a cushy number

Unlikely. Otto's ambitious. His overhaul of Aegon UK last year cost more than 600 jobs, so ABI staff may be in for a lively time, and he's only taking a long weekend off before starting next month. Otto will want to make more of a mark than his predecessor Kerrie Kelly, who headed back to Australia after a few months.



What's his plan?

Well, he says there's a ton of regulatory change about to drop on the industry, including tougher European solvency rules and the break-up of the Financial Services Authority into consumer and prudential agencies. Then there's getting the Government to keep the UK as an attractive base for international insurers.



How about the customers?

He admits there is "more we can do on the consumer side". Insurance isn't the country's most loved industry but Mr Thoresen wants to spread the word about what it does to protect us from floods and plan for old age.



Yeah, whatever

In fairness, Otto has got credentials after heading a taskforce that came up with the Consumer Financial Education Body, which provides information to teach children and families about managing finances.



What else should I know?

Otto got a double first in maths and statistics from Aberdeen University before training as an actuary with Scottish Equitable and doing the rounds of other insurers before rejoining the firm in 1994. At 54, this will be his first job in London and he's looking forward to living near the ABI's City HQ. At the weekends he'll be back north of the border with his wife and golf clubs.

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