The legal team at Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) will now report to the bank’s finance team in the group’s latest reorganisation, which led to the departure of chief people, legal and strategy officer and ex-Linklaters managing partner Simon Davies, after less than two years.
The move will shift responsibility for the legal and strategy teams to LBG’s chief financial officer George Culmer, with group general counsel Kate Cheetham reporting directly to him.
The changes, which will be implemented from 4 September 2017 subject to regulatory approval, will also see Cheetham attend the group’s executive committee.
In a statement, António Horta Osório, Group chief executive said the changes were fundamental to prepare the group for its upcoming strategic plan for the 2018-2020 period.
‘They are a key step to ensuring the continued alignment of the bank’s capabilities and strategy as a simple, low risk, UK focused bank with our customers’ evolving needs.’
However, one lawyer in the bank told Legal Business that the move ‘wasn’t normal’ adding ‘it shows things are shifting around a lot and things are a bit unsettled.’
The lawyer added that LBG has recently ran a colleague engagement survey, internally revealing wider discontentment within the bank’s legal team. This came amid one of the largest legal recruitment drives undertaken by LBG.
‘The morale is so low. People feel like they don’t have enough support to do their jobs. Some of the feedback was that the legal structure was very hierarchical and bureaucratic.
‘They have allowed a lot of people to go and have made a lot of people redundant but then they have gone on a recruitment drive and the external market is quite nervous about joining the bank. They can’t get enough candidates interested in some of the roles, particularly in commercial banking.’
However, it is understood that the exact detail of the survey has not been discussed among staff. Additionally, a source close to the bank has said that following the recruitment drive LBG will be making appointments to the legal team in due course.
Last year Legal Business reported that LBG was pushing an incentive scheme to its lawyers to secure new recruits into senior legal roles following a string of exits.