Simon English: Death and disasters don't make much difference to Lloyd's of London bosses

Outlook Under what circumstances would bonuses to executives at Lloyd's of London fall? The answer seems to be: under no circumstances whatsoever. Last year was one of "unprecedented catastrophe" in the insurance market's own words.

It plunged to a loss of £516m, the second-worst result in Lloyd's 364-year history.

There were tsunamis and earthquakes, floods and typhoons. Death and destruction.

What does this mean for the directors? Nothing much. Richard Ward's pay went down a bit, but for some reason the chief executive merited a higher bonus of £752,000.

Insurance is about risk, a phenomena from which Mr Ward seems to be protected. He isn't pricing that risk, he just runs the market, but still, it's an odd signal to send.

It's a similar tale for finance director Luke Savage and for Tom Bolt, who at least has the decency to have a comedy job title. He is director of performance management, a position he likens to being a good football referee.

"In a great game you don't notice the ref" claims Mr Bolt, who this year strolled under the radar to a £450,000 bonus and total pay of £1.05m.

Former chairman Lord Levene of Portsoken, who would have been content enough with the "rarely struck Gold Medal" that, according to his own press release, he was "humbled" to receive last September, reluctantly took £538,000.

That was down on a year earlier, in fairness, another show of humility. He also does a huge amount of work for charity, about which he prefers not to talk.

Anyway, back to the bonuses. Lloyd's says that overall executive pay was cut and that no bonus was paid "in relation to the market's year-end result".

So the bonuses are for achievements from previous years. Multi-choice exam: Is this a) a sensible way of incentivising talented executives to do good work? b) a fix that is rife across the corporate world to ensure the top brass never need engage with economic reality?

Lloyd's spokesman Matt Drage, an affable fellow who spends his evenings threading needles through his eyeballs to distract from the pain of his day job, notes that "following an external review of executive remuneration, a number of changes have been made to executive pay for 2012 which sees a reduction in bonus opportunities".

So they are overpaid then.

s.english@independent.co.uk

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