Richard Ward reminisces about working at his ‘temple’
As Lloyd’s announces its first female chief executive, Inga Beale, GR interviews the outgoing chief executive Richard Ward on his time in the role.
Describe your first day at Lloyd’s.
When I was chief executive of the International Petroleum Exchange I had a few friends in the insurance industry and I was fascinated by the building, but it wasn’t until 2005 that I first stepped into it. A broker friend took me inside and showed me around and I was absolutely fascinated. Years later, I am still struck with the energy you get from the underwriting floor. It is so dynamic and full of enthusiasm and opportunity. So when I was feeling a bit low on energy I would go for a wander around. It is an uplifting experience. When you stand in the centre you look up at the magnificent atrium and it almost feels like you are in some sort of temple.
Describe your most memorable meeting as Lloyd’s chief executive.
Meeting [UK] Prime Minister David Cameron in my office to discuss Vision 2025 was a particular highlight. Showing Prince Charles and Camilla around Lloyd’s was also memorable. I welcomed Camilla into the building and introduced her to the team and she quipped that it was not the first time she had been inside as her family had lost a small fortune in the past and so had to visit their insurer.
What is the best thing about working at Lloyd’s?
The great thing about working at Lloyd’s is that you are always meeting interesting people with fascinating stories to tell. Perhaps one memorable moment was when Scott Moser (Equitas chief executive) rang me up in late 2006 saying that Berkshire Hathaway want to buy Equitas and asking if we can support it with $90m.
Whom do you admire in the industry?
I have great respect for members of the Geneva Association, especially Nickolas von Bomhard (Munich Re chief executive). I thought his leadership of the group was excellent and what he has achieved at Munich Re is well deserved. I admire Greg Case at Aon and also I look at the problems AIG had and I think what Bob Benmosche achieved was fantastic; he has real vision. Closer to home, I think the way Denis Kessler turned around Scor is to be applauded. There are some great people in this industry, that’s why I don’t want to leave it.
What makes a good chief executive?
There are many factors to being a good exec. Ultimately you have to inspire your people to do extraordinary things.
How would you want your time at Lloyd’s to be remembered?
I would like my eight years at Lloyd’s to be remembered for the continual improvement for both corporation staff and in market performance, perhaps capped off this year with Lloyd’s best-ever credit ratings.
Do you have any regrets from your time as chief executive?
My only regret is the time that it has taken to convince the market of the benefits of new technology initiatives.
If you could change one thing about the way Lloyd’s operates, what would it be?
Simple, I’d like to see less paper consumed in Lime Street.