Lloyd’s of London’s historic base on Lime Street is heading for a radical makeover, with more focus on shared, collaborative spaces along the lines of a WeWork Cos. office, according to its outgoing chief.
“Over the years to come, that place will look very different, guaranteed,” Chief Executive Officer Inga Beale said in an interview in Monte Carlo on Sunday. “I don’t think you will have fixed market stalls like you do at the moment. It will be more around people getting together for short periods of time.”
Beale has been slowly changing things at the 330-year-old institution since she took over five years ago. Last year, she banned corporation staff from drinking during working hours, and it’s no longer compulsory for men to wear a neck tie inside the building, though in practice everyone still does. She’s most proud of introducing an electronic trading platform — 16.5 percent of Lloyd’s business is now placed online. However, it’s still a work in practice with many firms still using a rubber stamp to seal deals on paper.
Lloyd’s executives are under pressure to modernize its antiquated business practices. It lost money for the first time in six years in 2017 and — like other U.K. industries — is facing a more complicated business environment after Brexit. The market is also facing intense competition from overseas rivals, and is struggling to cut expenses.
Lloyd’s last week named John Neal as its new chief, succeeding Beale at the helm of the world’s oldest and biggest insurance market. Neal, who used to run Australia’s QBE Insurance Group Ltd., will take up his new role on Oct. 15.
“Lloyd’s will look totally different in a few years time,” Beale said. “It will look a lot more like a WeWork space.”