Lloyd's must act to counter the brain drain

In the past 12 months it has been all change at Lloyd’s, and that’s aside from the market’s sudden awakening to the electronic revolution that has long served the banking sector and London Stock Exchange.

Key personnel have left for pastures new and, while Lloyd’s has been trying to stem the flow of its best talent, who will replace them is seemingly worrying the Lloyd’s faithful.

Since Richard Ward’s coronation in April 2006, he has set about making his mark on the corporation as any chief executive would.

But if you believe comments creeping out of certain quarters of the market that his management technique is in need of “polishing” then it is his handling of the corporation’s leading lights that has led to a number handing in their passes and walking out.

Out of the door has gone Steve Quiddington, the man charged with handling the corporation’s reaction to contract certainty, the director of worldwide markets and once CEO hopeful Julian James, and most recently Steven Haasz. And they’re just the cream of the crop.

Lloyd’s claims it is just natural churn, after all people do move on to better paid jobs with fresh challenge. But it’s not a question of why they left, although rumours persist, but how the corporation will respond.

There can be no doubt that new management brings with it a certain degree of unrest. As one Lloyd’s stalwart puts it: “It is often a good thing if there is some refreshing change.”

But where are the high profile replacements? Prudential has done quite well out of using Lloyd’s as a recruiting ground, but the same cannot be said for the corporation to date. Wouldn’t it be in Lloyd’s best interest to parade new blood, or at least demonstrate that’s what it intends to do?

Apparently the recruiting sergeants are out to fill the vacancies – a relief to some who feel the internal pool is lacking a certain punch.

With stormier weathers predicted for the market in 2007, a strong and united management at the helm is crucial to build on Lloyd’s success and keep up the momentum of maintaining London’s competitiveness in the face of growing pressure from the likes of Bermuda.

Chairman Lord Levene has gone to great lengths to fight his corner among fellow City grandees at Gordon Brown’s exclusive high table.

While suggestions of Rolf Tolle’s impending departure have been laughed off by Lloyd’s, the question over Levene’s future is trickier.

The Lloyd’s figurehead is nearing the end of his allotted term and despite speculation that he is keen to extend it, as the end game gets ever nearer the interest will perhaps centre not on the replacements for James and co but on the head honcho himself.

Companies have long survived the problem of executive musical chairs, but Lloyd’s will have to play a much cannier game to recover from the departing talent in challenging market conditions.