Exasperated bosses slam franchise board's 'heavy-handed' approach

Senior figures in Lloyd's businesses have criticised the "heavy-handed" approach of the corporation's franchise board.

Chief executives claimed that they have been badgered by irate officials demanding disclosure of their business plans.

One chief executive said franchise performance director Rolf Tolle's "aggressive" behaviour had become a matter of concern.

Another company was astonished to find itself being "screamed at down the phone".

Both companies were angered by accusations that they had failed to tell Tolle's office about plans to develop their businesses.

They both felt aggrieved at what they saw as the board's unjustified complaints, over-reaction and tendency toward a high degree of control over businesses.

The franchise board was established in January in order to promote the profitability and competitiveness of the Lloyd's market.

One business leader said: "What are we supposed to tell them? It seems that [Tolle] is getting more and more aggressive."

Others felt the market was now worried that its support for the franchise arrangement had paved the way for a far more dictatorial system than many wanted.

A source said: "I think some people are beginning to wonder what they have got themselves into."

There was also a suspicion that the franchise board was specifically trying to cultivate a tough and threatening image in order to exert more control over the market and keep syndicates and businesses in check.

A Lloyd's spokesman said: "The franchise board and the franchise executive have gone out of their way to explain their agenda and to make sure that individual businesses understand what they are trying to do. There have been countless meetings with individual businesses to discuss these very matters."