It's been a long road for American International Group (NYSE:AIG) since the financial crisis, but the insurer seems to finally be back on its feet and ready to move forward. Though there are still challenges ahead, AIG is taking steps to position itself for greatness and is on its way to realizing some big goals. Here are the top three reasons AIG is poised for greatness, and how you can cash in on its progress.

Reason 1: Focus
The financial crisis not only took the wind out of AIG's once-billowing sails, but it added heavy burdens to the company as it made its way through the storm. With the final traces of governmental ownership shed in late last year, the weight has mostly been lifted, and AIG has refocused its energy on long-term goals.

Not only has the insurer dropped its ownership matters, it's also shed a number of non-core businesses that put a drag on its traditional operations. Though there is a new hiccup with the sale of its aircraft leasing operations, AIG has largely focused on renewed vigor in its insurance operations, expansion, and reductions in non-essential programs.

Focus has also been a cornerstone of management's approach to the company's balance sheet and shareholders. Though investors and analysts alike have been predicting and calling for a dividend or share buyback, management made it clear that neither of those would occur until other priorities were completed. One of the main priorities being liabilities management -- by reducing their liabilities, the company now carries a lighter interest expense, leaving more capital available for other priorities or disbursements.

Reason 2: Expansion
AIG made a big investment in China last last year, with a $500 million price tag. In its work with the PICC Group in China, AIG has already realized a 10% return as of the first quarter. With a renewed confidence in the opportunities the People's Republic provides, AIG is now partnering with PICC Life Insurance to form an agency distribution company, of which AIG will own 24.9%. Expanding outside of the property and casualty insurance lines their initial investment afforded, AIG is pressing forward into a new middle class that will be reaching out to providers for the first time in search of new insurance products that meet their needs. Though the current expansion news speaks mostly of activity in China, the moves made by AIG prove that the company is willing to put its money on the line in emerging markets that afford new opportunities -- and that it can succeed in doing so.

Reason 3: Renewal
With its recent title of hedge-fund darling, AIG has had a renaissance among Wall Street elite. And with renewed vigor for its stock from top money managers, the insurer only has to wait a bit longer for that feeling to spread beyond Wall Street and Broad. Once Main Street gets on board, the insurer's stock will soar.

Renewed confidence in the company itself will also propel investors to its shares, leaving behind the villainous reputation that it acquired during the financial crisis. With management open to discuss the company's successes and shortcomings, shareholders should feel that openness to disclosure lift some negative sentiments toward the company as it moves forward.

Greatness
Before the financial crisis, AIG was a great power in the financial sector. But it may have taken the precipitous fall during the crisis for the insurer to realize what it takes to achieve true greatness. With its focus aligned with long-term success, aggressive strategies propelling it forward, and renewed confidence on Wall Street, AIG is poised to launch itself to greater heights. For investors, this is an opportunity to rise with the insurer from the ashes and cash in on greatness. 

Fool contributor Jessica Alling has no position in any stocks mentioned -- you can contact her here. The Motley Fool recommends American International Group. The Motley Fool owns shares of American International Group and has the following options: Long Jan 2014 $25 Calls on American International Group. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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