10/04/2017 - 12:25

Van der Wielen to lead HBF

10/04/2017 - 12:25

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The new chief executive of HBF believes his international experience will help the not-for-profit health fund grow and prosper in the current challenging market conditions.

Van der Wielen to lead HBF
Incoming HBF chief executive John Van der Wielen.

The new chief executive of HBF believes his international experience will help the not-for-profit health fund grow and prosper in the current challenging market conditions.

HBF announced today that John Van der Wielen will succeed outgoing chief executive Rob Bransby, starting in the role on May 8.

Mr Van der Wielen commenced his career in Perth but has worked extensively interstate and overseas.

He moved back to Perth one year ago with a portfolio of non-executive board roles spread across the UK, New Zealand and Australia, but will step aside from most of those roles after accepting his new position at HBF.

“When I got the call, I saw a great opportunity,” Mr Van der Wielen told Business News.

“I think my experience will help HBF get through the next stages of its development.”

Mr Van der Wielen said the HBF role had many attractions.

“This is not a subsidiary of an Australian bank or a foreign multinational, it’s a truly independent CEO role where I can use my skill set and influences to make a difference,’’ he said.

“I’m looking forward to working directly with the board and developing plans for HBF to expand and be even more successful than it already is.”

Mr Van der Wielen noted that health insurance in Australia was a challenging sector but expects HBF’s longevity, large market share and strong balance sheet would all help.

“I take the view that in challenging times, the strong and successful companies go on to be even better,’’ he said.

“I think HBF will go from strength to strength.”

Mr Van der Wielen said he would resign all his current board positions, except for being chairman of fintech start-up Kyckr, which listed on the ASX last September.

Born in Perth, Mr Van der Wielen began his career in the State Government Insurance Office before joining Fortis Group in 1989.

He was recruited by Bank of Scotland to establish and lead the greenfield insurance group St Andrews Australia, a role that earned him a 40under40 award in 2002.

He has since had two stints in London, serving as chief executive, clerical medical, Halifax Life & Heidelberger Leben at Lloyds Banking Group, and more recently as CEO, UK and international, of Friends Life.

Mr Van der Wielen has also run ANZ Banking Group's wealth management business.

“The search for the organisation’s new leader was exhaustive and, considering the challenging landscape that confronts health insurance Australia-wide, required someone who is not only experienced and aware in the field of insurance, but also someone who is able to bring innovation and financial efficiency to that role,” HBF chairman Tony Crawford said.

“We believe John is that person – someone exceptionally well qualified to lead HBF into the future.

“John brings experience from leadership roles in some of the world’s top financial institutions and I am delighted that we have secured someone with that capability and perspective to lead Western Australia’s top health fund.

“He has more than 30 years’ experience in senior roles in the fields of insurance and financial services, including chief executive roles in global financial situations.”

Mr Van der Wielen will begin in the role as managing director and CEO on May 8, replacing Mr Bransby who announced plans to step down in 2015 originally to take on a leading role at Perth Racing, but instead remained with HBF for another year.

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