Right now, there can be few tougher jobs than being the next CEO of Lloyd’s because of the strategic challenges the market faces and the difficulty of implementing change at any institution with no shareholders and – at times – fractious stakeholders.
On the 6 September, Re-Insurance first revealed that Lloyd’s had selected the former QBE boss John Neal as Inga Beale’s successor and his position was formally confirmed on the eve of the Rendez-Vous.
One of Neal’s first challenges will be to create an effective leadership team. Last month, Lloyd’s commercial director (and interim head of its critical “Brexit” Brussels subsidiary) Vincent Vandendael announced his exit to join Everest Insurance. CFO John Parry is also scheduled to leave once his replacement is identified.
On a positive front, performance director Jon Hancock is winning cautious praise for backing actions with words in his post-2017 results “get tough” approach to Lime Street’s underwriting standards. Neal – a career underwriter – was presumably selected over the other shortlisted candidate, the well-regarded head of Deloitte’s UK insurance Clive Buesnel, because of his underwriting background. It’s a signal that improving results is Lloyd’s chairman Carnegie-Brown’s most important priority.
Neal clearly likes a challenge. He took on the daunting task of cleaning the QBE stables in 2012 after Frank O’Halloran’s long and acquisition-hungry tenure and arguably that was too tough a challenge for any one person. But he now has an even tougher one on his hands. So, he needs a good team around him and the support of the market if he is to restore positive momentum on Lime Street. It won’t be easy. As we are in Monte Carlo, Re-Insurance wishes him bonne chance.