Passers-by at Lloyd's did a double-take when they saw a French tricolour flying next to the great British institution, instead of the expected Union Jack.

The flag did not symbolise a possible French takeover of the 300-year-old insurance market, but was raised to welcome a group of visitors from Paris-based brokers Groupe Eyssautier.

The firm is the first of six non-UK brokerages to be admitted to Lloyd's, following rule changes last year. Entry was previously restricted to brokerages from Britain.

Managing director Paul-Eric Eyssautier said he was excited about his firm's closer involvement in the world's leading marine insurance market.

Steve Boucher, head of broker services at Lloyd's, said: “We are continuing to receive applications for accreditation from across the world and may soon see more international flags flying over the Lloyd's building.”

Perhaps it won't be long until the outside of Lloyd's resembles the United Nations building in New York.