July 3, 2013 8:07 pm

Lloyd’s of London chief resigns

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The chief executive of Lloyd’s of London is to resign from the historic insurance market amid tensions over the pace of modernisation.

Lloyd’s said Richard Ward would quit the three centuries-old institution – whose often archaic business practices he sought to overhaul – at the end of the year.

Senior colleagues said there had been questions about Mr Ward’s future since Lord Levene, who recruited him, was replaced as chairman by John Nelson, an ex-Lazard banker, in October 2011.

Mr Ward, a scientist by training who was appointed from outside the insurance industry, pledged upon his arrival in 2006 that most of the market’s main activities would be carried out electronically by 2009.

Allies on Wednesday highlighted the progress Lloyd’s had made in updating its paper-based infrastructure, including introducing an electronic message service between brokers and underwriters. But critics complained that the reality failed to live up to the vision.

Mr Ward’s tenure at Lloyd’s has been less revolutionary for the market than his leadership spell at the International Petroleum Exchange.

Under the leadership of Mr Ward – who has a doctorate in physical chemistry – the IPE was demutualised and closed its “open outcry” pit to become fully electronic.

Lloyd’s provided little explanation for Mr Ward’s departure other than to highlight that with almost eight years in the role, he had had a longer tenure than any Lloyd’s chief executive.

Mr Ward, 56, who was paid £1.7m including bonuses last year, declined to comment beyond a prepared statement.

“This has not been an easy decision to make,” he said. “I believe it is now right to hand over the reins to someone else.”

Mr Ward has sought to ensure that the British market stays relevant in the face of competition from overseas rivals such Bermuda and as emerging markets develop their own insurance industries.

He led the opening of hubs in locations including China and Brazil, and helped formulate Lloyd’s so-called Vision 2025 – a development strategy that has won support from David Cameron, the prime minister.

Mr Ward’s tenure at Lloyd’s – which comprises several underwriting syndicates – was marked by relatively healthy financial performance, but also one of the biggest losses on record, for 2011. The market stood firm and remained well capitalised in spite of a series of natural disasters.

Lloyd’s said it hoped to appoint a successor by the end of the year.

Mr Ward’s pay structure was changed soon after Mr Nelson became chairman. Top managers have been granted salary increases but their maximum potential bonuses were cut.

Mr Nelson said in the statement: “The Lloyd’s market is in a significantly stronger position than when he joined, and Richard deserves great credit for this.”

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