The Corporation of Lloyd’s senior management have been signalling their commitment to cost-reductions for some time - so one can imagine there was a collective groan when it published its market-wide results last month.
Not so much about the widely-expected dismal bottom line – the market’s worse headline result since 2001 – but because of the limited impact this virtue-signalling on costs had on reality.
For example, despite the well-trailed alcohol-at-lunch ban and a headcount-reduction plan announced by CEO Inga Beale in June last year, the Corporation’s overall costs were effectively flat at £306mn (£307mn in 2016).
But when Angerstein combed through the notes to the accounts, it transpires that the Corporation’s headcount actually leapt by 12 percent in 2017 versus 2016. The average number of employees in 2016 was 1026 while in 2017 it was 1157, according to Lloyd’s annual reports.
But before members of Lloyd’s get too irate – it is, after all, they who pay for the Corporation as a civil service/quasi-regulator and administrator – they can take solace that the commitment to cost reduction is meaningful.
A correspondent recently asked for a print copy of the 2017 Report & Accounts - only to receive this somewhat impersonal rebuff from “marketing”:
“Due to budget restrictions direction from the board to move the report towards a digital approach, we only printed copies to meet our regulatory requirements to members who requested a hard copy. Unfortunately, there are no spare copies and the report is digital for all other purposes”.
One way, I suppose, to stop concerned members from scrutinising the fine print…