World-leading insurance market Lloyd's of London has named its first female boss in 325 years of history.
Inga Beale was appointed chief executive and will replace Richard Ward from January 2014, Lloyd's said in a statement.
The milestone announcement comes 40 years after the first woman entered the specialist insurance market's dealing floor as a broker.
Ms Beale said: "Lloyd's is already an international leader, but this unique market has an extraordinary opportunity to increase its footprint and to cement its position as the global hub for specialist insurance and reinsurance.
"I'm looking forward to working with the Lloyd's team and the wider market to deliver a strategy for profitable and sustainable growth alongside Lloyd's robust market oversight ."
The 50-year-old has more than 30 years experience in the insurance industry, having previously held senior positions at Zurich Insurance and the insurance division of General Electric.
She follows in the footsteps of Liliana Archibald, who in 1973 became Lloyd's's first female broker and Name - individuals who back the market with their own capital.
Lloyd's, which traces its origins back to 1688, began life in a London coffee house where merchants insured ships.
Today it is home to a group of almost 90 competing syndicates which insure anything from a singer's voice to a footballer's legs.
Ms Beale, who began her career as an underwriter at Prudential, was appointed after an "extensive global search" and has already been approved by the regulator.
Chairman John Nelson said Ms Beale's "CEO experience, underwriting background, international experience and operational skills" would make her an ideal chief executive.
Business Secretary Vince Cable has set a goal of 25% female representation on FTSE 100 boards by 2015.