Thinking Long-Term in a Long-Term Industry – Ballantyne


Partners Life Managing Director, Naomi Ballantyne, has warned the insurance industry that more thought needs to be centred around the longest-held customer and the lowest-paid employee.

Ballantyne and Reserve Bank Governor, Adrian Orr, discussed industry conduct issues during a panel session at the recent Financial Services Council’s conference.

Ballantyne told the audience that certain things need to be demonstrated “…including your value proposition for your longest held customer, how you look after your lowest paid employee [and] how we support people to speak up when they see conduct problems.”

She said although we are in a long-term industry, there is a culture of short-termism.

“We’ve got companies where leadership tenure is short,” Ballantyne told the room, “We’ve got deep chains of command where the people at the top haven’t talked to a customer for 150 years, if ever and we’ve got people driven by shareholder returns, by career outcomes, by profit, by bonuses. So we’ve got long-term promises and short-term behaviours and that’s how we end up with conduct problems.”

“…we’ve got long-term promises and short-term behaviours and that’s how we end up with conduct problems.”

Commenting on Orr’s call for a longer-term approach towards business, Ballantyne said, “I don’t know how we regulate for long-termism, but I know that we can ask companies to report on more issues and over a long-term…”

Orr also commented on the Reserve Bank getting deeply involved with the banks and insurers via the Conduct and Culture Review.

Naomi Ballantyne and Adrian Orr in a panel discussion during the FSC Conference

He said they are determined to establish the moral compasses, guiding lights and navigation stars that can assist and create long-termism.

Ballantyne said that although money is the main outcome in the insurance industry, it is about making sure “the people who need it end up with the money when they need it – that’s what we do, it’s just the share of the money and how we make sure that that money is there when it’s needed…

“…we make long term promises to people that we’ll be there with the money and it’s making sure that they have the confidence and the outcome that they expect long after any of us in this room are still here in the jobs that we’re in today,” she said.