Firms on tenterhooks over Lloyds panel revamp

Lloyds Banking Group has delayed the review of its customer-pay panel, with law firms left in the dark over the timescale for the process.

The lender’s in-house team is now expecting to send out submission bundles to firms this March after advisers had previously been told the process would kick off in January.

Even the March date is understood to be aspirational, with the possibility open that the review will be pushed back further.

The large banks’ panel reviews usually take at least three or four months to complete from the point at which procurement teams send out documents, meaning firms might not find out if they have a place until well into the summer.

Lloyds declined to comment on the reason for the delay.

The roster, which covers lending work for which fees are passed on to the bank’s clients, is also expected to a undergo a revamp that would see previous sub-panels such as corporate lending, trade finance and real estate finance merged into one. However, the potential changes have not been finalised and are still under discussion.

It currently consists of elite and mid-tier firms and is separate from the own-account panel reviewed last year (2 November 2012). The results of that process were also delayed by roughly a month as a result of the volume of work involved (25 November 2012).

The news comes after Lloyds restructuring panel relationship manager Jonny Williams used a meeting for roughly 20 firms on the roster earlier this month to encourage a partnership-style relationship with advisers, in a move described as a contrast to other banks’ heavier-handed approach to fees and other demands from firms.

Firms present are understood to have included magic circle quartet Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters, as well as Addleshaw Goddard, Ashurst, CMS Cameron McKenna, Eversheds, Herbert Smith Freehills and Hogan Lovells.