An Interview with Outside Directors (Scott Trevor Davis)

Scott Trevor Davis

Address Social Issues
through Mainstay Businesses
and Enrich Society

Scott Trevor Davis

Professor of the Department of
Global Business, College of Business,
Rikkyo University

- With regard to the Sompo Holdings Group, what impression have you formed since becoming a director three years ago?

Before becoming a director, I had a connection with the former Sompo Japan in relation to its CSR report. My impression then was of a severe company that placed value-judgement criteria outside the organization and always considered what would be acceptable to counterparties as it proceeded through plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycles. After I became a director three years ago, I realized the reason for this. This strictness is the approach of both the management team and of the organization. As a corporate group that has succeeded, the Sompo Holdings Group has earned the trust of many different people and been entrusted with significant assets and is highly aware of the attendant stewardship responsibility.I see it as a group with an uncompromising and extremely sound philosophy that regards achievements as stemming from consistently being forward-looking and thinking about what to do in the future.

- How would you assess the Group’s governance?

I think the quality of decision-making is very high. Managers engaged in actual operations explain agenda items at meetings of the Board of Directors. Outside directors and outside Audit & Supervisory Board members ask questions about agenda items, and such exchanges can go on for hours. As a result, agenda items are postponed in some cases. Sometimes, such items are amended at meetings of the Board of Directors in light of the opinions of outside directors and outside Audit & Supervisory Board members.
Thus, anything that does not make sense from an external viewpoint does not go unchallenged. The Group takes so much care over decision-making that you would almost not think it was in the process of rapidly implementing major reforms.

- As an expert in CSR, how do you evaluate the Group?

At first, the vision of building a “theme park for the security, health, and wellbeing of customers” does not seem related to insurance, but this is not the case. The theme park vision refers to the Group leveraging capabilities developed in its mainstay insurance business to steadily offer services in new fields and thereby enrich the day-today lives of consumers. The Group’s advantages are risk management and risk assumption capabilities fostered in the insurance business. The theme park vision boldly seeks to assume the risks that Japan is facing and will face and to enable Japanese people to enjoy fun, active, and fulfilling lives. If we define CSR in terms of society’s expectations of a company and its role in society, it is important to determine whether mainstay businesses can contribute to wellbeing. Having succeeded in doing this very well, the Group has received a variety of awards in the CSR field. Leaving the risk set unchanged would make it easy to continue receiving plaudits.
Without being tied to past, however, the Group is boldly taking on the nursing care business and other new fields. For this reason, I view the Group as a truly forward-looking organization.

- What initiatives should the Group take on, and what are your expectations of the Group?

If you had asked me three years ago if the theme park vision was a good idea, I would have replied “yes.” However, if you had asked if I thought the Group would have progressed this far in three years, I probably would have said “no.” I think the Group has come this far at an amazing speed through sheer effort. While there are still things for the Group to do, I believe its major tasks will be discovering how to sustain the current momentum and working out how to communicate the significance of its efforts to society.