Following the announcement on Friday that Lloyd’s CEO Inga Beale will leave the Corporation later this year, re-Insurance.com looks at the likely candidates that will be considered by the Corporation’s chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown to succeed her…
Carnegie-Brown, who became chairman of the Society only last year, now has the opportunity to handpick the executive to steer the market’s strategy as profound headwinds hamper progress on Lime Street.
He will be advised by the Lloyd’s nominations and governance committee and will appoint headhunters who will presumably scour both the industry and outside.
In the past, Lloyd’s has selected figures without direct underwriting experience such as former life insurance boss Nick Prettejohn or even no industry knowledge at all, like ex-futures trading platform head Richard Ward.
But many of the current challenges faced by Lloyd’s are integral to its place in the insurance industry - namely high expenses, underwriting losses and a lack of clarity on distribution - and re-Insurance.com believes the ideal candidate would therefore be one with significant (re)insurance experience. In addition to that heady mix is the continued uncertainty over Brexit and the need to drive greater process reform.
The ideal candidate would also be one who can reach a stronger entente with the brokers and, in particular, the three global heavyweights: Aon, Marsh and Willis.
Their distribution dominance - the three firms provide over 40 percent of business to the market - makes them crucial to the health of Lime Street.
The support of the big three is also crucial to driving improvements in market processes yet brokers are all too often confronted by reasons not to do business with EC3 - not least fierce competition in local markets. They also face the ongoing FCA wholesale investigation, which was partly inspired by complaints from Lloyd’s insurers who were angry over perceived strong-arming.
It is for those reasons that executives with broking experience feature highly among re-Insurance.com’s list of early favourites for the post. They may have an advantage delivering an olive branch to the broking barons.
They include Steve McGIll, the former Aon president who was the architect of one of the most controversial and seismic distribution initiatives in the market’s recent history: the follow-form arrangement with Berkshire Hathaway in 2013 followed by the Aon Client Treaty.
McGill - who combines a Calvinist work ethic with a reputation for getting things done - is also passionate about Lloyd’s and has done much to support the market over the years, not least in persuading a sceptical Hank Greenberg to back the market after the traumas of 9/11 with the launch of the Ascot syndicate, the first time AIG had invested directly in Lime Street.
Other executives with direct broking experience include Dominic Christian, a popular reinsurance and retro expert who has been a leader of Aon Benfield since its creation in 2008 and is also a Lloyd’s Council member as are a number of other candidates in our list. But as our table asks, would he - like McGill - want the job?
Carnegie-Brown’s former Marsh colleague, Mark Weil, may also be considered for the role. He left Marsh earlier this year after many years with the group which included time heading the broker’s UK operations.
Among the executives from underwriting organisations then an obvious stand-out candidate is Mark Cloutier, the former CEO and now chairman of Lloyd’s insurer, Brit.
Cloutier has wide respect both in London and internationally and, together with Matthew Wilson, has transformed Brit into a top quartile Lloyd’s insurer following its buy-out by a private equity consortium in 2015.
He is a popular figure known for possessing a rare combination of attention to detail and broad vision, which have helped him develop a track record of delivering. He would be an excellent Lloyd’s CEO if he considered putting himself forward.
Other figures who may be considered - if they are willing - include Matthew Fosh, the long-serving Novae CEO who sold the company to Axis last year for almost £480mn, as well as Paul Jardine, the former Catlin COO.
Another possible candidate is Clive Buesnel, the current head of Deloitte insurance UK who has a strong understanding of process issues through his previous experience at Xchanging and was briefly a Lloyd’s insurance CEO himself with Jubilee.
There are others to choose from: senior underwriting figures such as Neil Maidment and Rupert Atkin are available as they have both moved away from executive roles at Beazley and Talbot respectively.
Bronek Masojada - CEO of Hiscox for almost twenty years - would also be excellent however he is highly unlikely to consider it.
Nonetheless, what this proves is that there are a lot of potentially excellent candidate for what is a painfully difficult role.
The CEO of Lloyd’s doesn’t manage a market P&L and isn’t immediately responsible for managing underwriting standards or protecting the Central Fund, duties that fall to performance management director Jon Hancock.
But the CEO needs to set the market’s priorities, targets and ensure that all of Lime Street’s competing stakeholders have a sufficient collective purpose to ensure strategies and arguably a new vision is delivered.
In essence, these should include:
Returning Lloyd’s to a position of underwriting excellence by supporting Jon Hancock as he shrinks Lloyd’s to become profitable again
Being prepared for the howls of protest when underperforming syndicates are closed down
Considering bold new initiatives - such as approved status for being a class leader or follower which could drive cost efficiencies and improve underwriting standards
Getting greater broker buy-in to process initiatives and market reform by improving relations with the market’s distribution partners
Continuing the decent work of Lloyd’s in supporting the Brexit planning
Providing greater visibility and results on cost-cutting (see comment 1)
Ensuring that Inga Beale’s positive legacy of encouraging the industry to be more diverse is not forgotten
Building consensus on a clear vision - based around underwriting excellence - of what Lloyd’s should be
Arguably, the final point is the most important of the eight priorities. Capital is fluid, distribution is fast evolving and Lloyd’s cannot compete on those terms but it gain the edge with underwriting excellence. The market cannot risk being marginalised by cheaper pools of capital or by alienating its distribution partners. It surely needs to reshape itself to ensure that it offers a compelling vision to attract and incubate underwriting talent and to work with capital providers and brokers.
On Friday, re-Insurance.com said the next CEO needs to combine the diplomatic skills of Henry Kissinger - in the sense of bringing warring factions together with a common purpose - with the resolution of Sir Thomas More, the man who had the moral courage to stand up to Henry VIII.
It was a slightly tongue-in-cheek comment with a serious undertone: just like our table of candidates that may well be considered for the post if Carnegie-Brown elects for someone with insurance experience (as we think he should).
One of the most important roles as chairman of any organisation is to appoint the right CEO. Carnegie-Brown has studiously spent months taking soundings from the market and considered that it was right for Inga Beale to leave the Corporation.
It may well be he has someone in mind already. But if he doesn’t, then we hope this list may be of some help…