Direct Line names Aviva’s Jane Poole as CFO

  • Poole will replace Neil Manser, who has worked at Aviva since October 2011
  • Direct Line chief executive Adam Winslow was Ms Poole’s superior at Aviva

New job: Jane Poole (pictured) will be the second person to join the board of Direct Line from Aviva this year after chief executive Adam Winslow

Direct Line has appointed the head of Aviva’s general insurance division in the UK and Ireland as its next chief financial officer. 

Jane Poole will be the second person to join the board of Direct Line from Aviva this year following the appointment of chief executive Adam Winslow, who was her superior at Aviva between August 2021 and March 2024.

She will replace Neil Manser, who has worked at the insurer since October 2011, having also previously served as deputy CFO and chief of strategy.

Manser played a crucial role in Direct Line’s £2.6billion listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2012 and eventual separation from parent company RBS Group, now NatWest Group.

His tenure also coincided with a turnaround strategy that saw Direct Line close around half its UK offices and sell its international arm and telematics business.

Since becoming Direct Line’s CFO, the firm has struggled with profitability owing to motor insurance claims inflation and payouts related to bad weather events.

Direct Line swung to a £39.5million loss in 2022 after it paid out significant sums from Storm Eunice, record summer temperatures, and freezing weather across Scotland and North West England.

It was also impacted by new Financial Conduct Authority regulations banning higher premiums on loyal customers – a practice known as ‘price walking’ – and supply chain disruption delays boosting the cost of car repairs.

Last year, Direct Line’s operating losses soared to £189.5million due to continued motor claims inflation, which contributed to a net insurance margin of -8.3 per cent.

Danuta Gray, chair of Direct Line, thanked Manser for ‘steering the group through what has been a challenging time and the part he has played in stabilising the business for the future’.

On his successor, Gray said Poole had ‘impressive experience in the UK general insurance market and an enviable record of success in leading teams in personal and commercial lines insurance’.

Before Aviva, Poole spent 14 years at Royal & Sun Alliance (RSA), rising to become the CFO of its UK & International businesses. She will start at Direct Line in October.

She said: ‘I am looking forward to joining the board and leading the finance function as the organisation looks to drive growth, deliver on its commitments to serving its millions of customers and creating long-term sustainable shareholder value.’

Direct Line Insurance Group shares were 0.6 per cent up at 186.8p just before midday on Wednesday and have grown by around 18 per cent over the past year.

The Bromley-based company’s shares were boosted earlier this year by two takeover offers from Belgian rival Ageas, the latter worth £3.2billion.

Direct Line turned them down, saying they were too low and ‘highly opportunistic.’