Sandy Maxwell asks why Lloyd's chose an 'outsider' chief exec

' Is there a dearth of quality management in insurance? That's the obvious question prompted by Richard Ward's appointment as chief executive of Lloyd's.

What are the skills that Ward brings to the role from his six years as boss of the International Petroleum Exchange? Interestingly, Ward closed down IPE's pit trading floor in favour of a fully electronic platform and demutualisation.The potential parallels with the underwriting floor at Lloyd's are intriguing.

Crucially, Ward has proven that he can deal with the abuse of hard-nosed traders, so opposition from underwriters and brokers won't worry him.

But Lord Levene says Ward has been brought in for his "deep first-hand knowledge of financial markets", and not necessarily to implement radical changes.

Ward is just the latest executive brought in from outside the industry to shake up entrenched attitudes. Marsh's Bruce Carnegie-Brown (banking) and Hiscox's Steve Langan (beverages) are two other examples.

It doesn't always work, however. Back at Lloyd's, former chairman Iain Saville had a great track record at Crest, introducing a clearing processing system at the London Stock Exchange. But, for whatever reason, it just didn't happen for Saville at Lloyd's.

JLT's new chief executive, Dominic Burke, jokes that he has bucked the trend by working his way up from chief operating officer.

But is Burke part of a dying breed? That's what Julian James must be wondering.

In the wake of Nick Prettejohn's departure, James was the leading internal candidate for the Lloyd's top job, but there were questions about his financial experience. Does this filter down to all levels of the industry?

The subject of skills shortages caused intense debate at our latest Young Professionals meeting (see next week's issue).

Mansion House's Terri Grainger called for "people who have the ability to read the policies or lead the industry," as the insurance sector has "to compete against other industries". Absolutely.