View more on these topics

Richard Harvey

Shareholders in CGU and Norwich Union have until March 31 to give the

go-ahead to the creation of the UK&#39s biggest life office.

The two insurers have launched a charm offensive to sway shareholder

opinion in favour of the proposed deal.

If they succeed, it will be the responsibility of mild-mannered church

warden Richard Harvey to ease CGNU into the aggressive waters of the

European insurance pond to compete with Continental big fish Axa, Allianz

and Aegon.

Harvey, an actuary by training, joined NU in 1992 as chief executive of

its New Zealand arm. He returned to the UK in the following year as general

manager (finance) for NU and was appointed group chief executive in 1998.

The man, described by those around him as “likeable” and “open”, will have

to wait until June 2001 before he can take over from CGNU group chief

executive designate and current CGU chief executive Bob Scott when he

retires from the CGNU post. Until then, he will work alongside Scott as his


The 49-year-old father of three believes his “Antipodean management

style”, which he describes as an open and no-nonsense approach honed after

10 years of living and working in New Zealand, will stand him and CGNU in

good stead when he steps into the group chief executive role.

The Kiwi connection will remain an integral part of his life now that two

of his children have married and set up home in New Zealand.

He is also confident that the merger will give the combined group the critical mass to break into the European insurance market as the biggest UK-based life office operating in domestic markets on the Continent.

To emphasise this, Harvey resorts to a football analogy, despite squash

and skiing being his preferred sporting pursuits. He says: “You can only

play in Europe if you are in the Premier League, it is not something you

can really do from Division One. Until now, UK life offices have only had

the strength of Division One players.”

Harvey is almost apologetic and self-effacing when talking about himself

and his outside interests – he describes his skiing as “incompetence goaded

on by enthusiasm” – making it hard to imagine him ever blowing his own


But get him on to the subject of the merger and his whole demeanour

changes to that of an indulgent parent crowing over a child prodigy.

Like all parents, Harvey cannot abide having his baby criticised,

irrespective of the source of the criticism.

He dismisses analysts&#39 predictions that one of the European heavyweights

could enter the fray and scupper the merger plans. “It is very unlikely

that will happen. That was just a headline-grabbing thought on the part of

the media,” says Harvey.

The church warden&#39s faith stretches beyond conventional boundaries to

include shareholders&#39 ability to focus on the job in hand. “UK shareholders

have concentrated on the deal itself, not media speculation, and I am

confident they will give the deal a warm reception,” he says.

Harvey also takes exception to analysts predicting that IFA business for

the combined group will not hit CGNU&#39s projected figure of 76 per cent of

total group business.

But IFAs themselves back up analysts&#39 assertions and have been vocal in

airing their concerns about the spate of mergers, in particular, the CGU

and NU deal.

Worried IFAs say they will be uncomfortable doing the same amount of

business with the combined group as they have with the two life offices and

will be inclined to split the business among other groups. IFAs account for

87 per cent of NU&#39s life business.

Harvey defends the merger in the manner of an indignant and somewhat

disappointed parent. He says: “I am surprised IFAs would say that. They

have always done a good job in recommending the best products and we have

no plans to reduce the range of products on offer. Our market share will be

no greater than that of Standard Life or the Pru, so I do not understand

where they are coming from.”

He is keen to stress that IFA fears over the impact the merger will have

on administration are unfounded and that they can take solace from the

efforts that the group is making to maintain present service levels.

“I will crawl over broken glass to ensure we maintain our quality of

service,” he says, delivering the line with a tone of sincerity that makes

it difficult not to believe him.

But perhaps his sincer ity and gentle authority owe more to his church and

youth group activities than life as an actuary.

He sits on the fund-raising committee of the Children&#39s Society and admits

he regrets not having the time now to be a youth group leader as he has

been in the past.

Self-deprecating to the last, he chips in that he is prob ably a bit “over

the hill” to join in now, anyway.


Equity-based Isas surge despite warnings

Volatile world stock markets failed to deter UK investors from investing a bumper amount in equity-based Isas in February. Gross sales of equity ISAs totalled £1.07bn in February, which was up 59 per cent on January sales, according to the Association of Unit Trusts and Investment Funds.Although the figure is slightly less than the amount […]

Abbey to upgrade digital channel

Abbey National is upgrading its pilot digital TV service next week giving half a million TeleWest cable customers access to basic banking services through their TV.Customers will be able to order leaflets, request a instant call back from Abbey National and browse for information on the bank&#39s services all from home.Abbey hopes to see customers […]

CGU threatens pull-out of Gartmore race

CGU is threatening to pull out of the race to buy Gartmore because the asking price is too high.The fund manager was originally estimated to be worth about £550m but the valuation has risen dramatically to £900m.Old Mutual, whose bid of around £550 m for Gartmore was thought too low, said this month that it […]

Chase de Vere to launch variable rate bond

Chase de Vere, the independent financial adviser, is launching a fixed term 10-month variable-rate bond for investments of between £10,000 and £1m.The product which is offered in conjunction with the Woolwich pays 7.2 per cent gross interest. Chase de Vere says that rising interest rates could mean investors will enjoy increasing monthly returns.

Global equities: time to de-risk?

While equity valuations have doubled since the financial crisis, Simon Edelsten explains that there are still pockets of value. But not where you might think Macro-economic uncertainty is causing turbulence in equity markets. Artemis Global Select Fund manager Simon Edelsten says his investment themes are taking him in a different direction to some of his peers – away […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm