Tuesday 5 November 2019 4:00 pm

Insurance industry must improve corporate culture, Bank of England warns

The Bank of England sent out a warning to insurance bosses today, demanding that they improve workplace culture following a spate of sexual harassment revelations.

In a “dear CEO” letter written to corporate heavyweights in the insurance industry, the Bank’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) flagged recent instances of alleged abuse as of “deep concern”.

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The body reiterated that top executives could face fines or bans if they break conduct rules, sending a fresh warning shot to the sector after months of scrutiny over company culture.

“Recent public reports relating to sexual harassment and bullying within the London market are of deep concern and it is clear that some firms have more work to do to improve aspects of corporate culture and individual behaviour,” said the PRA’s acting director of insurance supervision, Gareth Truran.

He added: “These issues also raise broader questions about whether firms are promoting a culture where staff feel able to speak up about poor practices or unidentified risks within their organisations, including issues relating to a firm’s financial soundness.”

Truran also said “ensuring firms develop and maintain a culture where staff feel able to speak up and raise concerns” was a top priority.

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The comments from the PRA come a little more than a month after Lloyd’s of London released a damning survey that found nearly 500 people working in the insurance market have either suffered or observed sexual harassment in the last year.

The 333-year-old insurance giant produced the findings after Bloomberg reported evidence from 18 women of sexual harassment in the industry.

Lloyd’s boss John Neal has called the findings “truly terrible” and vowed to make cultural improvements one of his key priorities.

As part of an attempt to clean up the culture, Lloyd’s has sought to curb daytime drinking in EC3.