Having been with Storebrand for 20 years, 10 of which were as the CFO, Odd Arild Grefstad was well prepared to take the company’s top office in July 2012. However, there have been numerous challenges that he’s had to confront that have stemmed from external conditions. “I would also say that there is a challenge in running the company and advising our customers with such an unclear regulatory framework that we’ve seen over the past few years,” he says. “Solvency is still in the making and will have a large impact on insurance companies.

“On top of that, the Norwegian regulations are also in the making, so this makes it difficult for our customers to decide upon their future pension plans. At Storebrand, we focus on what we can affect directly, and that is to run the business as ethically and customer-oriented as possible. During my first week as CEO, I went to all of our employees in a public meeting and introduced quite a large cost-reduction program. I was quite concerned about what kind of impact and response that would receive from the employees, but to my surprise, the reaction was positive and proved that the staff are well educated, understood the situation that we were in, and were actually waiting for this message to get out in the open.”

Stepping into the organisation during a transitional period has meant setting a clear two-pronged strategy for the future of the company. “First, managing the balance sheet and ensuring our first move from guaranteed to non-guaranteed products. Second, creating a strong growth platform within corporate unit links and within financial services in the retail market.