Marc Lieberman talks to Helen Morrissey about his new role at The Hartford and discusses how he thinks the company will develop going forward
Tell me about your career to date?
I initially started in this business as an IFA just over 23 years ago so financial services has been the only business I've ever worked in. I think starting out as an IFA has given me a good insight and I can now really understand the challenges they face doing business on a day to day basis. From there I moved into the investment banking side of things and then moved into Europe. Immediately prior to moving to The Hartford I was with ING in New Zealand for eight years.
Why did you decide to join The Hartford?
The Hartford is a company that I have known throughout my entire career, first as a provider and then as a competitor. It is known for delivering top quality products and service that meets its customers' needs. I was very happy during my time at ING and when the first approach came initially I wasn't interested. However, when I realised that the approach was coming from The Hartford then I was very excited.
What do you perceive as being the main challenges you will have to face in your new role?
While The Hartford is a huge, well established company in the US it has been relatively unknown in the UK until its entrance into the market three years ago. The UK retirement marketplace is dominated by some very large brands and so we've had to be very careful how we have introduced The Hartford brand. I think the way this has been managed so far is great and it's important to realise that no-one thought it would be easy.
However, the team is dedicated to developing a growing business going forward and that is what we are doing.
Looking ahead I'm excited about establishing new markets for The Hartford to enter as well as further developing those markets where we already have a presence. For instance we recently opened operations in Germany. However, this is more than just looking to plant a flag in as many different areas as possible as we will need to show real commitment to the markets we choose to operate in. For instance we are committed to developing a strong business in the UK and we have and will continue to make a bold and sustained effort to ensure that this is what we do.
The Hartford has a senior leadership team based both in Dublin and London and I will be working with them very closely. They are a very strong team with a wealth of experience and they have been instrumental in helping me get up to speed since I joined The Hartford in August.
Up until now you've worked overseas. What experience have you gained that you can apply to the UK marketplace?
One topic that has really hit the headlines is that of personal accounts. The introduction of this is very similar to what happened in 2007 with the New Zealand Kiwi Saver scheme. As part of my job at ING I was heavily involved in working with the New Zealand government on how KiwiSaver would look and I think this experience will serve me well in the UK market. In the end ING became the largest provider of the KiwiSaver. I would say that if I took anything from this experience I would say that providers need to look carefully and know exactly what they want to accomplish from the start and follow a steady course going forward. We have to be committed to finding attractive ways for people to save for their retirement and be prepared to look at all avenues available. The government and regulator also need to be prepared to work closely with providers and get to grips with their business so they know what providers are capable of delivering. At the end of the day we need transparent, simple savings products that drive value to the consumer.
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