The world of the London Market feels, with all that Passleing, posting, blogging and tweeting, to be a buzz of activity. TOM has been (reportedly in dispatches - the EC3 grapevine) scaling up and down with different remits and scope, finding its feet around appetite and budget; a market of competitive collaborators is not an easy one over which to place the normal business templates and expect a fit.
Clearing out my archived documents - as I install a new CRM - I discovered a 3 year old (nearly to the day) PowerPoint pdf entitled "Delegated Authority at Lloyd's" - authored by Lloyd's. I was curious; where was the message positioned 3 years ago?
Starting out, the initial slide is a Nelson figure portrayed over the English Flag, so obviously the author was able to foresee Brexit and then further into Engexit?
It goes on to set the scene of what Coverholders are and what they have to do, I am still not sure that people in the market fully understand the role of the Coverholder vs, say, an MGA or a Broker with a Binder. I recall being in the first sitting of the CII Delegated Authority exam, and was bemused and perplexed trying to understand the tripartite contract relationships between Insured, Coverholder and Managing Agent.
The document continued through the number of Coverholders worldwide - starting with the EU at a little under 1400, then the US at a pinch over 1000, 350 in Canada and Argentina, Australia, South Africa, with APAC making up the few hundred left. nearly 3 years later at the end of 2016 there was approximately 1000 more Coverholders - all collecting information about risks in a multitude of ways, systems, languages and methods.
The priorities were listed on page 5 and at that time were Conduct Risk, Straight through Processing, Data and Audits. I believe that list remains unchanged....
The next page in this 2014 presentation asked some questions, introduced the various committees and groups DUM, DUC, BOLT etc, considering reduction in various identified restrictions of that time.
Some plans for moving forward were then laid out to handle perceived obstacles and make Coverholder set up and activities easier. the growth in the number of Coverholders would support this having happened I am sure. But the over seas Coverholders don't always demonstrate their understanding of what they should supply to London, why and how to do it, and i think most will agree I don't have enough column inches to open the Bordereaux can of worms within this post.
So how much progress has really been made ? and where has it been focused? Are there too many cooks in the kitchen each with their own motivation, aiming to achieve their idea on their watch? In many cases it seems the individuals are contractors in the role and thus one presumes set to move on more frequently, than in a corporate career? Whilst experience in previous roles from outside London has merit, there may be a need to ensure a steep learning baptism into London is essential; the bylaws and restrictions need to be factored into process and systems. Quote and Bind Portals workflow requirements - when it's not clear at what point you should be sanctions checking - leads to endless meeting room debates. There seem to be too many adviser and contractors with little or no London Market training or experience, granted some are needed to bring new thoughts and ideas but this market is not like any other.
But lets be fair......there has been activity:
The Coverholder Audit Scheduler - not quite a perfect deployment, but I believe we are awaiting a relaunch.
PPL - the news paints a stop-start message, but with no clarity on how market players would integrate. Which traditionally has always been the after thought.
The DUA stream in TOM - looks interesting, and with the right tech company behind it, with a cool head, creative mind and extensive understanding of the London Market, then a solution could be in the making.
A CSRP portal - the option to submit accounting information; finally a light at the end of the LPAN tunnel. Now this got my attention! With a bit of spit and polish, and some webservices, wee could be talking, but remembering to join it up elsewhere. The balance of an area being ring fenced to tackle, but simultaneously not being treated as an island, is a complex task that not everyone appreciates.
The Innovation activities are really interesting, bite sized approaches to the rest of the market; ideas and new concepts to make use of intel and tech that has never been tried in the market but may serve to link up the data in a secure, encrypted and controlled way, enabling the market to think differently and work differently. Do we still feel "the Market isn't ready for this"? Who is this "The Market"? It's only all of us, so whilst the old costs of current systems can't be avoided, embracing new ways will require acceptance that this also costs. Trying to run before walking and biting off more than one can chew, solving the entire problem whilst piloting one business class has been the old method; thinking like a computer must be the new way to make progress, AI works both ways.
So 15 streams to 11 to a few more or less depending on who has understood or can offer what? Software vendors are tooing and frowing in presentations, development proof of concepts and hundreds of hours spend preparing RFI responses.
So what has changed since 2014 - nothing or a great deal? As a vendor of a system for MGAs, Wholesale Brokers, Insurance and Reinsurance; a system that processes Treaties, Facultative, Direct, Binders and Lineslips, which is class agnostic and captures templated Risk Level Data, I still feel vendors as a group of companies are only just starting to be listened to. Finding a solution to connect using standards (If only identify and agree what GWP what Brokerage is by placing meaning around the data we all agree on - Standards. Any new solution, even if it to be made up of multiple systems and integration points would be scoped, designed and built in miniature, so perhaps we are really only in the scoping stage? But if so, and if the consultants have understood the offerings out there and solutions already built we might be able to start to make a difference.
From our perspective we continue to give the SME insurance Intermediary a solution to their flexible, creative and entrepreneurial activities that needs systems to support and grow with them, and when we are provided with a stable, static set of standards and codes we will build them in and push what is needed to where its needed. but at the end of the day the question is, who is prepared to finance the silent underpinning?
On the whole I think a great deal has been achieved, but I am not sure it has all been achieved in as joined up or open manner it should. I hope some lessons have been learned and changes in views, approaches and flexibility adopted. After all, as vendors we simply observe until invited to participate. It has been refreshing to see a tide change on that note alone in the last 3 years. If we are in it for the long haul, and a truly collaborative and inclusive approach is supported, we may very well surprise ourselves.