Having enjoyed a long and successful career with MAPFRE group in Spain, Javier Moreno Gonzalez made the move to Malta at the start of 2021 in preparation for his new role as CEO of MAPFRE Middlesea. Now settled into the position, he reflects on the achievements of 2021 and looks ahead to what 2022 has in store for this leading insurance company.

With a professional career spanning more than two decades, occupying various executive positions at global insurance giant MAPFRE Group, Javier Moreno Gonzalez has brought a wealth of experience and expertise to his new position as CEO of MAPFRE Middlesea.

With the new role came a new set of responsibilities and challenges, not least due to the precarious time at which he took the helm of Malta’s leading insurance company. “On both a personal and a professional level, the situation has been complex due to COVID-19. Generating engagement and commitment with new colleagues through a virtual relationship wasn’t easy, and neither was adjusting to life in a new country,” he states. “But the role of CEO requires a significant desire to learn and an ability to adapt, so it has been an exciting challenge all around.”

Javier adds that his transition was facilitated by the support of his team. “It has made it very easy for me to lead this fantastic company,” he admits. “I believe that, together, we are doing a superb job and will manage to continue developing the company and move it forward.”

Sharing what he hopes to bring to the table during his tenure, Javier says he will be tapping into the experiences gained throughout his long-standing professional career with MAPFRE Group. He has held various executive positions in the technical, commercial and business development areas of the Group, gaining a 360-degree view of how to develop an insurance company.

“On top of that, through the corporate responsibilities I’ve held over the last six years within MAPFRE Group, I have learnt best business practices around the world, some of which can certainly be applied to Malta,” says the CEO. “My goal is to help the company grow profitably and sustainably, while preparing well for future challenges.”

Reflecting on the past year, Javier says MAPFRE Middlesea has done very well given the current circumstances, with several achievements under its belt that he is particularly proud of. “The first is that we were able to keep all our employees safe, as looking after them was one of our major concerns. The second (and one that is equally important) is that, thanks to our employees who continued to perform to high standards, we were able to sustain the standard level of service that we have always provided to our clients.”

Continuing to develop the business and obtaining good technical and financial results marks another notable accomplishment for the CEO. “Compared to 2020 figures, we have continued growing this year and this reflects a development of the business in a profitable way, which, of course, we’re very happy about,” he says, adding that the continued implementation of relevant transformation projects is another feather in the company’s cap.

Reflecting on the country’s insurance sector, Javier believes its ever-changing landscape has enabled it to withstand the crisis better than other industries. “It was extremely difficult because we were not prepared for it. The good news is that we have learnt to provide our services digitally in ways we hadn’t before, and clients, intermediaries and ourselves all see that this is possible,” says Javier. “2020 was a difficult year from a new-business point of view. But in 2021, with the revival of mobility, new opportunities have been presented and we are back on a growth path.”

Both MAPFRE MSV Life (where Javier is a Director) and MAPFRE Middlesea have performed well in the last year, and growth is projected to continue into the current year. Motor insurance continues to be the major contributor to MAPFRE Middlesea’s success, making up around 50 per cent of business, followed by health and home insurance, which altogether make up around 80 per cent of the company’s revenue.

“Throughout 2021, all lines of business have grown except for two areas. The travel business has been impacted and is still low compared to our 2019 figures, as a direct result of the slowdown of the tourism industry. There has also been a drop in demand for nsurance of fleets and commercial vehicles on the motor side, which is also a result of reduced tourist activity.”

However, Javier notes that, throughout this turbulent time, clients have remained loyal to the company and have understood its efforts to maintain the same level of service it has always provided. “We are sincerely grateful for this. We have worked hard to provide and promote an omnichannel approach to suit clients’ various needs – although in the Maltese market in-person communication remains the preferred choice, which we are happy to provide.”

Ultimately, the CEO says, it comes down to providing a choice – “which is the culture of MAPFRE, not just in Malta but in all the countries we are present. A digital transformation for us has to be a consequence of our clients’ needs and preferences. In fact, they are the focus of our upcoming three-year strategy – it is only by understanding our clients that we can understand the future of our business.”

Without giving too much away, Javier asserts that the new strategy, beginning this year and evolving until the end of 2024, is built on three main pillars: customer focus, the digitalisation of the business, and operational efficiency. “At MAPFRE, we have a mature methodology that we use to define our strategy for a new cycle. We are already at an advanced stage, and we are prepared to execute the strategy going forward.”

Sharing his vision for the upcoming 12 months, the CEO says, “we have a lower level of visibility to make predictions today compared to previous years. We remain uncertain because of COVID-19, as well as because of additional economic factors like inflation, commodities and energy costs. But we remain determined to continue developing good insurance solutions for our clients.”

Javier adds that there are opportunities in all sectors, but he is also conscious that competition will be fierce. “Malta is a mature insurance market, and our aim is to continue to be the market leaders while remaining competitive.” On the motor insurance front, for instance, there are clear opportunities in the area of electric vehicles. “We are the first company to launch a specific policy for electric vehicles and we see a good future for this product in Malta. I believe we will be active in all lines of business in 2022 and continue on a path of holistic growth.”

The CEO explains that maintaining a market leader position will be his drive throughout the year. “We are aware it is a privileged position, but it is not a gift. We must work hard to continue gaining and maintaining the trust of our clients and intermediaries. We will continue to develop new products and services for all areas of business – this is our focus.”

This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2022 – an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders.

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