The Player: Max Taylor, Chairman of Lloyd's: Still a name to reckon with
Wednesday 26 May 1999
CHALLENGE: The insurance market has matured rapidly in the past 10 to 15 years. There is a high level of sophistication in risk management, the market has become global, technology has had a major influence on some lines of business, and competition has grown. "Insurance is now a way, not the way, of covering risk," says Mr Taylor. He recognises the need for organisations to change to reflect the marketplace. "We have reinvented ourselves. It is a big challenge to keep doing it." The most recent results from Lloyd's show that it made a profit, after expenses, of more than pounds 1bn for the third successive year. However, huge over-capacity in the industry has subsequently led to increased competition and lower prices, which in turn has hit profit margins. Mr Taylor believes that history will look back on 1992-96, "as a bit of a golden age for insurance".
CORPORATE BACKGROUND: Mr Taylor joined Willis Faber in 1970 and worked his way up to a board appointment in 1990. After merging with Corroon and Black, he was appointed a director of Willis Corroon Group and chairman and chief executive of Willis, Faber & Dumas, its principal Lloyd's broker. He is a former chairman of the London Insurance Market Network (LIMNET) and was also chairman of the Lloyd's Insurance Brokers' Committee. A working member of Lloyd's since 1975, he was elected to the Council of Lloyd's in 1997, and appointed chairman in 1998.
STRATEGY: Lloyd's has a remarkable brand. Against a background of increased competition, Mr Taylor believes Lloyd's concentration on underwriting as its core competence, "stands us in good stead". Lloyd's is a community of insurance brokers and Mr Taylor says he is keen to "build on our relationship with them, because they are the primary source of business for bigger risk and catastrophe insurance risk". He notes that higher margins are available by specialising in more difficult and complex risks. Mr Taylor says technology is affecting the distribution of certain lines of business and has the potential to improve efficiency.Mr Taylor says that Lloyd's is the "original international market", licensed to operate in 64 countries. Historical re-insurance links with China, East Germany and Asia provide well-established business flows.
MANAGEMENT STYLE: Mr Taylor says Lloyd's is "an interesting place to manage". It has more than 60 managing agents with their own management structures, but who are "bound by the brand and licences in Lloyd's". Mr Taylor says the relationship between the corporation and the partnership works remarkably well. He adds: "The process is very much one of co-operation to mutual benefit".
MOST ADMIRES IN BUSINESS: His predecessor, David Rowland, who Mr Taylor says, "did a phenomenal job" getting Lloyd's through its difficult times. Others he respects in the insurance industry include Jeff Greenberg, president of Marsh and Pat Ryan, chairman of Aeon Group. Outside the insurance sector Mr Taylor admires "the real buccaneer, larger than life characters", such as Patrick Sheehy of BAT Industries, Lord King and Colin Marshall. "History will show they really changed something."
CITY VERDICT: Robert Miller of the Association of Lloyd's Members says being an individual name at Lloyd's is a very good deal: "Reform of the regulatory structure is of enormous importance. It makes the business safer and more attractive than it was before." Mr Miller says that Lloyd's should not become a wholly corporate institution: "Private individuals achieve better and more stable results." Mr Miller believes individuals providing capital have an important role to play in Lloyd's, alongside capital from institutional investors and insurance companies. "Lloyd's needs to be a tripod of different capital. It needs to stand on three legs rather than one or two."
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