Filling key roles restores faith in the market

Insurance is a people business. Stand in any one of the bars that litter the City and you will see as much. Having the right people with the ability to broker the best deals is where real value lies.

Companies go to great pains to secure the services of talented individuals working for rival firms. And in a softening market, poaching teams is the tactic of choice in order to achieve the necessary growth.

But if a team goes, so too does a firm’s book of business, profit and reputation. That is why Benfield was so quick to sue rival Aon after it grabbed a significant chunk of its facultative solutions team.

People trading is a priceless game, which is why it came as no surprise when concern began creeping out of certain quarters about the steady stream of high profile departures from Lloyd’s.

A month on from the departures of Steven Haasz and Julian James, Lloyd’s has been busy filling the human holes. As predicted, the replacements have come from outside the corporation.

“Lloyd’s has traditionally not looked internally for key appointments, so it’s not surprising that there are external recruits to supplement the existing pool of talent,” says one senior industry figure.

As expected of a corporation of Lloyd’s size and stature those recruits come with a good reputation and proven track record.

Sue Langley, who will become director of market operations and North America, has been instrumental in driving the peer-to-peer platform in the market as chairman of G6, not to mention her role as chief operating officer at one of Lloyd’s largest managing agents, Hiscox.

She not only brings experience and knowledge to the market operation table, but with it the high profile Lloyd’s management surely desires.

Her appointment was swiftly followed by that of Jose Ribeiro as director of international markets and business development.

Ribeiro, previously Willis’ managing director for Latin America and member of Willis international’s management team, will be responsible for promoting the market across the globe, seeking new business opportunities and monitoring the development of emerging markets.

The duo represents the final piece in the international senior management jigsaw and the newly restructured team formed under Richard Ward’s leadership.

He may have received criticism for his alleged “crude” handling of senior management, but Ward has recognised the key element to sustaining a healthy market.

As one market commentator puts it: “Globally there is a lot of confidence back in the market and people are investing money again because they can see it is a properly managed organisation.”