Firing line  

The major problem we have is not with alpha-male culture, Amanda Blanc

This comes amid denials from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which is overseeing the pensions dashboard project, that the scheme might be scrapped.

Responding to a story in The Times the DWP said work on the dashboard is continuing, despite reports that secretary of state Esther McVey has moved to kill off the project, saying the service should not be provided by the state.

The ABI has said it is vital the government stands by its promises on the dashboard, as abandoning it would be a “huge let-down” to millions of savers.

Speaking to Ms Blanc prior to The Times story being published she said: “A pension is complicated enough. If you don’t know where all your pensions are or what holistically they look like when drawn together how can you possibly make lifestyle decisions or choices?”

As her start date at Zurich approaches, Ms Blanc is unable to say much about her new role, but group chief executive Mario Greco was a big factor behind her decision to accept the job, a man she describes as being a proponent of transparency and simplicity in financial services.

Additionally, she was attracted to the culture at Zurich where a good number of the women work in profit and loss positions.

She is also very passionate about being a disrupter in her own sector. With her chief executive hat on Ms Blanc warns that the insurance, long-term savings and health sectors are ripe for disruption, and the question will be whether firms will be disrupted externally or from within.

To prevent the threat of external disruption, she is a strong advocate of the industry working in partnership with disruptors to deliver good outcomes for customers.

Ms Blanc herself brings a great deal of experience to Zurich. At Axa, she was tasked with turning around the fortunes of the UK business, which she joined in 2011. 

Prior to Axa, she was deputy group chief executive of one of UK’s largest insurance brokers, Towergate, now part of the Ardonagh Group.

Her experience of dealing with brokers at Axa will be something she will apply at Zurich and at the ABI.

Ms Blanc said: “Advisers are similar to brokers and they play a vital role. They have the same challenges: of relevance, digital and conflict of interests. At the end of the day you have a customer, you have an adviser [or broker] and then you have a provider. You have platforms and various other things. The terminology can be different, but I think the issues are not that different.”

Click here to watch FTAdviser's video interview with Amanda Blanc.

Ima Jackson-Obot is a features writer at Financial Adviser and FTAdviser.com