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Suncorp calls for open borders, resets business

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Suncorp has pressed the case for the reopening of borders to help the economy recover from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and says its own program of work to reset its business post-pandemic is well underway.

“The reopening of borders is key to helping restart our economy,” Chairman Christine McLoughlin told the online annual general meeting today.

“We understand that this must be done carefully and sensibly, with health and safety of the community in mind; but it will be a critical step to take us forward.”

Suncorp has highlighted that the pandemic has changed ways of working and consumer behaviours, accelerating the use of digital technology.

“In the early days, like everyone, we saw COVID-19 as a threat. We now see a clear opportunity,” CEO Steve Johnston said today.

“This is because the fundamentals of our business are strong and getting stronger. We have sufficient capital, funding, liquidity, provisions and reserves to support a conservative assessment of the economic outlook.”

Suncorp has announced changes in recent months to its structures and teams, with the Finance Sector Union last month warning job losses would affect both the insurance and banking businesses.

Mr Johnston says the company is managing changes carefully and in a considered way, while recognising that tough decisions taken have very personal impacts.

“We are providing significant support and assistance to our team, particularly those that will leave over coming weeks,” he said.

The insurance business has reinvigorated its brand portfolio and is reviewing its marketing strategy and effectiveness, while the product set is being simplified and coverage reassessed in light of the changing climate, affordability and more demanding community expectations, he says.

Mr Johnston last week visited regional Queensland to meet customers, government representatives and staff, noting such activities remain an essential ingredient, despite feeling “like a luxury” amid the online shift.

“Complex businesses cannot be run exclusively through spreadsheets, PowerPoint or Zoom,” he said. “Sometimes you need to get out into the regional shopping centres, onto the farms and around the barbecues to make sure what may look good on paper can be applied in practice.”