16 JUNE 1990, Page 18


Change on its way to the top at Lloyd's of London


Up on the 12th floor of Lloyd's of London all is calm and bright. The waiters, serious, soft-footed figures, glide about in their red-and-blue uniforms. A flock of visiting Japanese, their mouths hanging open respectfully, are ushered across to be received by the chairman. Through the glass wall of the atrium, they can look down on ant-like figures scurrying around the Lutine Bell. In Lloyd's supposedly modern but technologically ineffective building, the chairman's floor is an oasis of tradition. What it needs, and with David Coleridge as chairman may now get, is change. Tradition and ceremonial come easily to Lloyd's. Regulation has pre- occupied the 12th floor for most of a decade when Lloyd's first obligation was to clean up its act. As for the business of Lloyd's, it seemed to be looking after itself. The market had a run of record years, new members flocked in, and a good time was had by most. It is now evident that the good times were not as good as they looked, that bad times were just around the corner, and that Lloyd's can no longer afford to take its ways of doing business for granted. That will come home to the membership when the results for 1989 and (probably worse) 1990 have to be paid for — though the members now getting bills for the unfinished business of earlier years will need no reminding. What is new is to find the ruling Council shaken out of its customary processes of consulta- tion, which begin in the spring with mur- murs of 'does old George want to do another year?' and finish in November with a puff of white smoke from the 12th floor.