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New executive lineup in Suncorp overhaul

Steven Deare
Suncorp has made a string of leadership appointments as part of a wide-ranging overhaul

Insurance and banking major Suncorp has made several leadership changes as part of a wide-ranging overhaul that it says has been accelerated by the economic impact of COVID-19.

Chief Executive Steve Johnston said the pandemic had prompted customers to more quickly adopt digital channels, and staff had found more agile ways of working.

As part of the changes, Suncorp's head of insurance Gary Dransfield will leave the company in July.

Suncorp said its Australian insurance business will contribute a larger proportion of group profit following the sale of its life insurance operations, and will require greater focus.

It will now be jointly led by two executives.

Chief customer and digital officer Lisa Harrison has been promoted to the role of Chief Executive insurance product and portfolio, while Paul Smeaton has been named chief operating officer insurance.

Mr Smeaton has led Suncorp New Zealand for five years. The organisation will search for a permanent replacement.

Consolidating the insurance and group head offices was the most fundamental change in the operating model, Mr Johnston said, adding that this would improve decisions and provide greater efficiencies.

The new operating model would help the bank make decisions more quickly and better use digital channels.

Mr Johnston said the changes did not signal any shift of intent about the role of the bank.

Current Chief People Experience Officer, Amanda Revis, will also leave the company but has agreed to stay until a permanent appointment is made.

Meanwhile, former Commonwealth Bank executive Clive van Horen will fill the vacant chief executive role at Suncorp Bank.

Suncorp had announced the resignation of its newly appointed CEO Lee Hatton in May after just three months in the job.

The banking and wealth division will gain more control over business functions such as finance, marketing and digital distribution.

The raft of executive changes follows the insurance and banking giant outlining in May a hit of $133 million on account of the coronavirus crisis and revealing a separate $70 million due to incorrect payments to staff.

Suncorp on Wednesday also said it has set an upper limit on its catastrophe reinsurance program to $6.5 billion.

It also expects natural hazard costs to rise by between $90 million and $130 million for the full-year 2021.

It earmarked $820 million in the previous year as surging claims from wildfires, drought and hailstorms weighed on the sector.

Shares in the company were down 2.2 per cent to $9.02 at 1240 AEST.