Penny James appointed Direct Line chief executive

Direct Line has announced that its finance boss Penny James will succeed Paul Geddes to become the insurance giant’s new chief executive.

Ms James will take up the role in May, becoming one of only a handful of FTSE 100 female chief executives.

Direct Line announced in August that Mr Geddes – who oversaw Direct Line’s split from Royal Bank of Scotland and its stock market flotation – is to leave the firm after 10 years at the helm.

Ms James will receive an annual salary of £800,000 and a pension allowance of 9% of that figure.

She will also be eligible to participate in Direct Line’s annual incentive plan, which could see her scoop up to 175% of her salary, as well as the long-term incentive scheme, which amounts to a maximum of 200% of pay.

Direct Line chairman Mike Biggs said: “The board is delighted to appoint Penny James as chief executive.

“The board is confident that Penny is ideally suited to leading the delivery of Direct Line’s short-term strategic imperatives, including technological and business transformation, and the development of the next stage of our strategy.”

The company has started the hunt for a new chief financial officer.

Ms James was appointed to Direct Line’s board in 2017 and became finance chief in March 2018.

She has also done stints at Prudential, Omega Insurance and Zurich Financial Services.

The chief executive designate said: “It is a privilege to be taking over the leadership of Direct Line.

“This year we are beginning to execute the next phase of our business transformation strategy, in pursuit of our mission to make insurance much easier and better value for our customers.

“I feel excited about the long-term potential of the group and confident that we will continue to deliver for our customers, our shareholders and our people.”