Lloyds looks to old hands

THE SLEW of changes at the top of Lloyds marks a stark departure from its recent strategy of bringing in brand new faces to turn around the ailing lender with the aim of privatising it as quickly as possible.

While António Horta-Osório brought with him a string of new executives and promotions to shake up the bank’s management, his departure has marked a retrenchment into a “safe pair of hands” appointments style.

With incoming head of wholesale Nathan Bostock, a Horta-Osório recruit, abruptly reversing his decision to join the bank, its board opted to stick with experience and keep Truett Tate in the role he has filled for seven years.

Similarly, the decision to appoint non-executive director David Roberts, a Lloyds insider, as interim CEO should Horta-Osório fail to return, suggests that the board is now reluctant to take too many risks.

Insiders privately admit that the bank has seen too much instability all the way down its hierarchy. As well as undergoing repeated restructurings, it has had to devote time and energy to managing political demands to lend more and offload more than the 632 branches it was being forced to sell.

The latter, in particular, saw the bank mount a huge lobbying operation of letters from investors and bidders that saw off the threat from the Independent Commission on Banking, but nonetheless took its toll on senior management.

With his eye on retirement next year, chairman Sir Win Bischoff will be hoping that a retreat to relying on Lloyds insiders will help speed its return to “boring banking”, even if privatisation is still far off.