Javier Moreno Gonzalez boasts decades of experience in the insurance industry, having begun his career working for MAPFRE Group in Spain. Together with his wife and two teenage children, he moved to Malta in 2021. Today, he is focused on leading a team of specialists intent on broadening their client-centric approach.

When Javier Moreno Gonzalez first arrived in Malta, he was concerned about how he and his family would settle on the island they now call home. He had spent his career working for the MAPFRE Group in Spain, initially focusing on their local market and impressing his superiors over his two decades with the firm.

As a result of his hard work, he had enjoyed a series of promotions, holding responsibilities over the group’s international operations until he was, later, promoted to CEO of the Malta outfit.

In 2021, he found himself moving to the EU’s smallest nation-state. “It was a different culture, a different language,” he says. “But we found the country safe and I can honestly tell you that, from a professional point of view, I received a very warm welcome from a team with whom I’m able to work very closely.”

This was his first experience taking on the mantle of CEO and, as he explains, “I still learn something new every day. My position here is a very interesting one, since I don’t only lead MAPFRE Middlesea, but I run the entity tasked with representing the MAPFRE Group in Malta too.”

It’s a task he has taken on with relish. “I enjoy working with my colleagues, and collaborating with them to see how we can do things better for the future of our clients and for the business. Facing daily challenges motivates me, since I like to be involved in analysing a situation, and finding solutions for it,” he explains, admitting that he does “have the habit of becoming a little impatient when things take more time and money than I would wish.”

Over the past three years, this client-centric approach has trickled down to become the firm’s business ethos. “Our main slogan is ‘we care about what matters to you’ and this is what we keep in mind every time we come to the office, every single day. We want to work together with our clients, giving them the level of security and peace they need so that they, in turn, are able to focus on the other things in their lives.”

Leadership in the insurance sector, in his view, must be founded on a firm knowledge of the technical intricacies of the field. “This is not an easy business, and it requires an understanding of how it all works, in its essence. We’re not selling something tangible. We sell a promise; a promise that you’ll have what you need when you’re confronted with something you’re not facing today. So, we need to have that expertise, to gain the confidence of our clients, and to gain their trust.”

This sense of altruism is also reflected in Javier’s desire to see the firm broaden its participation in social projects. “We do believe our role goes beyond the insurance business. We want to give back to society. We are, for example, very proud of the voluntary activities we embark on, and we encourage the team here at MAPFRE Middlesea to play their part. In other words, we don’t consider only the business aspects of the company. The MAPFRE Foundation is our major shareholder, so part of the group’s profits are invested into that stream, so that the foundation can organise community projects across the globe,” he explains, attesting that the group attempts to spearhead at least two to three initiatives per year.

Last year – and as testament to this socially conscious approach – MAPFRE was involved in a number of ESG projects, including a charity football tournament, participation in Global Volunteering Month last October, a car wash day, volunteering at the Valletta Soup Kitchen, as well as fundraising initiatives for charity, and initiatives focused on elderly care. “In parallel, we promote corporate wellness among our employees – so we’ve organised a sunset walk for all the staff, as well as medicals, flu vaccines, and an eightweek weight management programme, delivered by a nutritionist on our premises.”

Gender equality is also a priority for the firm, Javier says. “It’s central to our strategy and we have a task board to investigate the situation and consider how we can improve it.” He cites some figures to illustrate his point: “women comprise 60 per cent of our workforce, with 35 of our chief officers and 54 per cent of our heads of department being women.” The staff complement hails from 16 countries, and racial integration is also “a priority” as well as a “way of developing our business,” with “the human element at the centre of our culture and part of our DNA.”

Javier’s keen interest in local contexts has also resulted in new business directions. Indeed, MAPFRE Middlesea launched a new commercial home insurance policy last year. “It’s quite simple. I’m also a tenant here in Malta and I have my own landlord, so, I felt we needed to optimise what we offer our clients in terms of what’s needed on the market. Our insurance protects both the tenant and the landlord, giving both peace of mind when they enter into a rental agreement. And, of course, there are plenty of homes which are currently being rented, so we saw this as an opportunity,” the CEO attests.

This year, Javier plans to lead the firm in continuing to develop their client-focused strategy, “actioning all the resources and projects to address this important goal.” To affect this, he is intent on further boosting efficiency. “We need to be more agile, more detailed in our work and more responsive. We need to be there for our clients, and we need to demonstrate that the way we’re approaching issues is constantly being reevaluated,” he explains.

The firm will, he foresees, continue operating in a market context which will retain its stability. “I’m not expecting to see any major changes within the insurance sector,” he says.

Despite this, he insists, there is need for data when it comes to future contingencies, particularly with regards to climate change. “There’s room for improvement here, and we need to garner information related to Malta. The island is small, and we tend to follow sources of data from other areas of the Mediterranean. But, as an industry, we need a better data model to identify what will be needed in the future and how to progress in that direction. Having said that, Malta is a developed country and there is already significant insurance protection for any catastrophic events,” he asserts.

Apart from these considerations, 2024 will see MAPFRE Middlesea “adjusting our offering to the current conditions for the life business and non-life business, therefore improving our value proposition,” he continues.

Inflation, however, will continue to be a source of concern, throughout this year. “We need to be sure this is not going to impact costs severely, since this will in turn impact our premiums. We’re trying to define the issues to mitigate the effect here, but it’s not in our control. If we observe a sustained and significant cost increase over the next few years, it will have a broad impact on the entire insurance industry. And this will be the case every time a claim is made, assuming it will become more expensive to repair a home, a car and so on,” he says, adding that the insurance sector is “part of the real economy”, with inflation and any international shifts also leaving their mark on its stakeholders.

Concluding, Javier insists that by the end of this year he would like to see MAPFRE positioned as the “market leader for both non-life and life insurance. But, most of all, we’d like to close 2024 having made the right steps towards providing the best quality and service in insurance in the country,” he says.

This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2024 – the sister brand to MaltaCEOs.mt and an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders

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