Lloyd's franchise board has started this year's round of scrutiny of managing agents' business plans. It was widely publicised that after last year's gruelling schedule, Rolf Tolle and his team would start looking at plans much earlier.

One managing agent described the experience: "The market has divided the good and bad by the time spent with Rolf and his men. If you are good, then 20 minutes will suffice. But if you're bad then they stay over an hour."

But a Lloyd's spokeswoman said: "The amount of time allotted on each business plan differs case by case. It takes as long as it takes."