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Wesleyan CEO in ‘Firing Line’ for FT Adviser interview

Wesleyan CEO in ‘Firing Line’ for FT Adviser interview

Wesleyan Chief Executive Mario Mazzocchi is the latest senior financial services figure to feature in FT Adviser's 'Firing Line' series.

In a wide-ranging interview that covered his career rise and how Wesleyan is coping with the difficult trading conditions of 2020, Mr Mazzocchi highlighted how the Society, and the people within it, have been prepared to make their own sacrifices during the coronavirus outbreak to ensure a continued and effective service for our customers.

"Clearly, our segments [GPs, hospital doctors and dentists, especially] have been very much at the forefront of the crisis," he said. "It's critical for an organisation, especially in a segment that was so much involved with managing the unprecedented crisis, to show that actually we were there with them."

While Wesleyan continued to support these key workers' financial needs, soon after the full lockdown began, it also rolled out additional wellbeing support for them, with the Wesleyan Foundation also donating more than £100,000 to mental health charities that specifically assist medical professionals.

"If we think about how pressurised the environment has been, especially for hospital doctors at the peak of the Covid-19 emergency, we thought it was a way to show support to our segment, to our customers, and really do something to support their mental wellbeing," Mr Mazzocchi said.

He also explained how Wesleyan "took the hit" when in April and May it changed the Practice Plan membership fees, returning half of the membership admin fees to particularly hard hit dental customers. "I think it sent a strong message, which was extremely well received," he said.

Mr Mazzocchi also talked about how he and the non-executive board members, including Chairman Nathan Moss, sacrificing part of their salary to make donations to charities raising money for the NHS and other Covid-19-related causes.

As for those Wesleyan employees on the front line serving customers from head office and around the country, Mr Mazzocchi explained how we had prepared for a "worst-case scenario" as early as February, ensuring a relatively seamless service when lockdown was eventually implemented a month later.

"We decided to act very proactively because it was the right thing to do to protect the business and to protect our customers," he explained. "It's never easy for an organisation like ours with 2,000 people based broadly in one building. They are used to operating in a very physical way in terms of interacting with each other, going to the office every day, seeing colleagues."

"We managed still to support our customers with their queries. Phone calls were received as if people were in the office supporting customers with the right security around it. We invested a lot but, more importantly, we invested at the right time to be able to be ready."

Mr Mazzocchi also reflected on how Wesleyan has had to reassess its own financial performance targets for the year, with the twin impacts of the economic upheaval and changing customer wants and needs.

"What we have ended up with is actually a much more benign trading environment than we feared," he explained. "But we are expecting the tail of Covid-19 to be much longer.

"That is being driven by - from an investment perspective - people holding onto their cash because there is uncertainty and when there is uncertainty you want it to be available to you.

"The shift to protection I don't think is entirely driven by Covid-19, but it has been the trigger for some important reflections."

Read the full interview here.

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'WESLEYAN’ is a trading name of the Wesleyan Group of companies.

Wesleyan Assurance Society and Wesleyan Bank Ltd are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Wesleyan Financial Services Ltd, Wesleyan Unit Trust Managers Ltd, Practice Plan Ltd and DPAS Ltd are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.  Advice about investments, insurance and mortgages is provided by Wesleyan Financial Services Ltd.

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