Digital transformation in the London Market has progressed at a steady pace, but not necessarily fast enough.  For decades, the market has discussed the threat of disruptors, but these were expected to be in the form of InsTech start-ups or monolithic companies like Google stepping in and ‘eating our lunch’.

What was not predicted was the disruption that would be caused by a pandemic.  This pandemic will leave the landscape of many verticals changed forever, and the London Market will not be an exception.

The Lloyd’s market alone is currently estimating up to US$4.3bn to be paid out to customers as a direct result of COVID-19, see this article.  This amount is on a par with previous large historical loss events and the whole market is expected to be impacted at historical levels.

With workers forced to be working from home, the digital and remote working readiness of businesses has been tested to the full.  In some cases, legacy systems have been a barrier to a seamless transition to remote working.

But we don’t see this as doom and gloom, but a fantastic opportunity for the entire market.  It is an opportunity to show-off the markets ability to cope with the challenge, minimise disruption to customers service and innovate further.

Video conferencing has become the new norm for meetings.  Zoom alone has seen the volume of meeting participants increase from 10m in December 2019 to 200m in March 2020 and now well in excess of 300m. 

Add to that the increased volumes in e-placing in the market.  On 8th April, PPL sent out a press release highlighting the increased volumes they were seeing, and at that time had seen 2,000 more risks placed than the week before.  Other statistics at that time included:

  • Increase of unique users by 40% since 14th March
  • 550 new users set up in a fortnight
  • 102 broking firms placed business on the platform.
  • Number of submissions doubled

Since Lloyd’s closed its trading floor on the 19th March, Whitespace have also seen an “uptick in sales” according to Marcus Broome in a recent article.

One negative aspect is the (completely understandable) slowdown in activity towards the Future @ Lloyd’s blueprint ambitions.  Lloyd’s announced recently that activities will be scaled back to recognise the impact on the marketplace.  The Blueprint activities being maintained will be re-focused towards next generation document-plus-data version of PPL and the new digital solution for coverholder business, both of which provide greater capability to 80% of the business that comes in to the market.  Re-planning of 2020 will now take place.

So, when we get back to normal, well a new kind of normal, what does this all mean?

Overall, the market has shown great resilience and responded well.  From a technology perspective, the market has access to the component parts, from video conferencing through to access to e-placing platforms.  But not all of these component parts are fully integrated, for seamless data exchange between the various market systems.

In some instances, legacy systems, especially at the back-end, have caused issues for some operations.  Some operations having to rapidly implement work-around solutions and, in some cases, at the risk of compromising on security. 

Morning Data’s clients, using the NOVUS and HELIX solutions, have been able to seamlessly move to a remote working model with no need for additional support from our support team.  NOVUS and HELIX are delivered from the Morning Data cloud, providing anywhere access to all our clients.  As a business, we have been fully operational, in fact it has been one of our busiest periods. 

We have been working with the API factory as on the early adopter program for the roll out of API connections with PPL for Quotes, as well as enhancing functionality with other open source API integrations, for example Marine Traffic, as well as working with LIMOSS to provide vendor perspective and feedback to drive forward further adoption of DASATS.

Clearly, there are other priorities in the market right now.  However, once we start coming out of the other side of this COVID disruption, there is an opportunity to increase investment in technology and to accelerate the digitisation of this great market.  We can build on the component parts available and the progress being made on agreeing data standards and integration developments – the mortar needed to bring all the building blocks together.

So now is the time to start thinking about these building blocks, so that you are ready to adopt each of the digitisation phases as they become ready in our market (some are ready now).  One of those building blocks will be your back-office systems, which should be cloud available, London Market focussed and integration capable.  If you want to work with a technology partners that is actively participating with Blueprint projects and objectives and that can provide you with enterprise functionality at competitive costs, then contact me – paul.buckle@morningdata.co.uk