Insurer’s chair says the business ‘will continue to focus on rebuilding our capital position’ and ‘restoring balance sheet resilience’ after ‘significant headwinds’ in 2022

Direct Line Group (DLG) chief executive Penny James has stepped down from her role leading the insurer, effective immediately.

In an announcement on the London Stock Exchange this morning (27 January 2023), DLG confirmed that James had agreed with the insurer’s board to step down as chief executive and director immediately.

While the firm searches for a new chief executive, its current chief commercial officer, Jon Greenwood, will take up the role on an interim basis - as well as join the company’s board - subject to regulatory approval.

James will assist with the transition process to “ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities”, the insurer added.

Speaking on the news, James said: “It has been a privilege to lead Direct Line Group for nearly four years and to work with such an amazing group of colleagues.

“While the business was impacted by significant headwinds at the end of 2022, the group has continued to make strategic progress.

“I am proud of what the business has delivered for customers, where our technology transformation has seen improved digital capability in our core business areas, setting the group up for the future.

“I wish Jon and the team every success and have no doubt they will build on the underlying strengths of the business.”

Changing hands

James initially joined DLG in November 2017 as chief financial officer, before being promoted to chief executive in May 2019.

Prior to DLG, James held leadership positions at insurers such as Prudential, Admiral Group, Omega Insurance Holdings and Zurich Insurance.

At the Insurance Times Awards 2021, James won the coveted Insurer CEOs’ CEO of the Year title.

Danuta Gray, chair of Direct Line Group, said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Penny James for her contribution, dedication and commitment to the company.

“During her time as chief executive, Penny has overseen significant strategic progress, transforming the technology and capability across the business, accelerating the digitalisation of customer journeys and helping to set the company up for the future.

“She also deserves great credit for the way she led the business through the pandemic, in a very challenging market, ensuring that we continued to serve our customers.

“The board and I are grateful to Jon Greenwood for agreeing to serve as acting chief executive. Jon has a successful track record in leading our commercial business and as chief commercial officer has a deep understanding of the group.

“The board and I will work closely with Jon as he focuses on our priorities of driving our performance and restoring balance sheet resilience, following the significant headwinds the business faced in recent months.

“Yesterday, we announced new strategic reinsurance arrangements, which are expected to increase the group’s year-end 2022 solvency capital ratio by around six percentage points and we will continue to focus on rebuilding our capital position.”