Redundancies hit QBE’s IT department


Insurance giant QBE this afternoon confirmed it had made a number of staff in its IT department redundant and was seeking to hire a new chief information officer, as the company’s profits took a hit following the global series of natural disasters.

The Financial Review this morning reported the insurer had made up to 200 IT staff redundant, following a review of its operations, and was currently seeking a new chief information officer.

This afternoon, QBE confirmed sections of the AFR report, stating that, following a recent review of its IT function, it had recently implemented “a new operating model” aimed at providing more effective and robust IT services for its staff and customers. “Unfortunately, this process has resulted in a number of IT roles being made redundant,” the company said in a statement.

The company said it remained committed to redeploying staff wherever possible, and still maintained “a significant IT presence in Australia”, with over 400 IT staff employed across the country. The insurer was also currently recruiting for a new chief information officer as part of what it described as its “continuous improvement cycle”.

The news comes as QBE has recently suffered a number of financial headaches. In mid-June the company’s share price hit a six month low after the company downgraded its projected profit margins on its insurance lines. A statement the company sent to the Australian Stock Exchange at the time laid out the extent of the damage which had recently hit its operations.

“Large catastrophe claims for the financial year to date include Queensland storms, Cyclone Yasi, Victorian storms, other storms in Australia, Christchurch earthquake, Japan earthquake and eight major tornadoes in the US,” it said. But the company’s group chief executive office, Frank O’Halloran, was upbeat about the company’s woes.

“The unprecedented frequency and severity of catastrophes in the first five months have materially impacted a large number of insurers and reinsurers, with many announcing significant underwriting losses,” he said. “However, our diversification and comprehensive reinsurance protections will enable us to outperform the majority of our peers in the first half [of the financial year].”

It’s not clear which companies are key technology suppliers to QBE in Australia. However, internationally, the company is known to have a strong relationship with IBM, following the signing of a strategic outsourcing deal with Big Blue to transform and manage QBE’s UK and Western European operations in October 2009.

Image credit: Jeremy Tarling, Creative Commons