Peter Harris is an international businessman who resides in Auckland, New Zealand. He began his career working as a chartered accountant. In 1989, he became the finance director and shareholder of Boston Marks Group Ltd. After a four-year stint at General Capital Ltd. as its chief executive officer, he joined CBL in 1996. He was named CEO and managing director of the insurance firm in 2007.
Under his leadership, CBL became the largest insurance firm based in New Zealand. It had clients around the world, including Malaysia and France. Its financial health was rated as A-(Excellent) by the international rating frim AM Best. CBL was earning more than $400 million a year in 2018. Peter Harris was recognized with multiple accolades, such as the EY Awards naming him “Entrepreneur of the Year.”
In 2018, French insurers unfairly targeted CBL. Peter Harris explains this resulted in the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) investigating his company. RBNZ assigned an inexperienced liquidator to the case, which resulted in Peter Harris and his fellow shareholder Alistair Hutchison losing what they had built up over the years. Peter Harris has been working to make sure all of his company’s residual creditors and policyholders are taken care of.
Earlier in his career, Peter Harris realized that a great profit could be attained by taking on more risk than most banks. He saw the risks could be mitigated through innovations. This included surety solutions, guarantees, and credit enhancements. He put the plan into action in 1996 after buying an insurance company. It was a small business, but Peter Harris and his business partner saw enormous potential.
Peter Harris recalls that they realized they would need to expand internationally to be truly successful as New Zealand had a population of just four million people. They sought clients and opportunities overseas, including in Asia and Europe. This coincided with the rise of the internet and email making it far easier to do business on a global scale. He put the long-term good of the company over short-term results, a strategy that paid off in two years as the company became profitable and had tremendous growth.
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