Smashing through the glass elevator

Kate McCann
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Inga Beale will be first female chief executive of 325-year-old Lloyd’s of London market

LLOYD’S of London yesterday appointed Inga Beale as its new chief executive – the first woman to be given the role in the insurance market’s 325 year history.

Beale will take over from Richard Ward in the New Year, and joins the company from Canopius, a privately held Lloyd’s insurer.

Chairman of Lloyd’s, John Nelson, said he was “absolutely delighted” to appoint Beale to lead the historic insurance market, adding: “Her CEO experience, underwriting background, international experience and operational skills, together with her knowledge of the Lloyd’s market, make Inga the ideal chief executive for Lloyd’s.”

Beale started her career as an underwriter at Prudential before tackling various international roles for GE Insurance Solutions. She also spent four years with Zurich Insurance, including a period as global chief underwriting officer.

Of her new role Beale said: “I’m looking forward to working with the Lloyd’s team and the wider market to deliver a strategy for profitable and sustainable growth alongside Lloyd’s robust market oversight.” She added that Lloyd’s has an “extraordinary opportunity to cement its position as the global hub for specialist insurance and reinsurance”.

Roger Bickmore, who works at fellow Lloyd’s underwriter Kiln, hailed Beale as a “high calibre candidate,” adding: “While Inga’s appointment attracts attention because of her gender, it is also interesting that she is a market insider with an insurance CV and all of the credentials to lead on Lloyd’s vision for the future.”

Charlie Voller of High Finance Group, which founded the Women in Insurance network earlier this year, called the appointment “testament to the insurance industry’s recognition of talent” and said: “The industry has strived to deliver above and beyond the diversity agenda,” adding a note of caution that there remains “plenty of work to do” next year.

In an interview earlier this year Beale highlighted the gender gap in the insurance industry and called for more awareness of women who drop out to run their own consultancies “because they’re sick of the politics in these large corporations”.

“Until we get more women around the decision-making table women are unlikely to get enough encouragement to really aspire to reach senior positions in the industry,” she said.

Her appointment comes amid reports that current employer Canopius is the subject of a bid approach from Japanese firm Sompo. A deal worth around £600m could be announced as soon as this week.