Focus: For Blueprint Two, the market needs to modernise its change processes
By Paul Bermingham, Advent Insurance Management
To succeed in its attempts at modernisation the market must update procurement processes, open up the central function and remain mindful of the customer throughout
With Lloyd’s aiming to deliver the majority of Blueprint Two’s capabilities this year, some significant and positive changes can be seen taking place in the market.
The joint venture between Lloyd’s, London market insurers and DXC Technology aims to “deliver both world-class technology as well as significantly reduce the processing costs for the market,” according to Lloyd’s. Core systems at the transactional heart of the Lloyd’s market will effectively be replaced, with the Ipos system due to supersede the bureau and the Icos system, ECF.
This new architecture will create a hub that will effectively be the electronic backbone of the market, which boasts enormous potential as, for the first time, it will be possible for third-party systems to be integrated and made centrally available to the market. This could be game changing as it negates the need for Lloyd’s to build and own solutions required by the market and avoid historic issues and complaint concerning a lack of choice.
Another important element is it will be based on the international data standards for reinsurance: Acord and Ruschlikon. While not a perfect match for the Lloyd’s market at present, this is however a high-quality standard being rolled out for international transactions between brokers, carriers and other parties, with the intention to adapt Ruschlikon to make it compatible with the syndication of risk.
Add to that the work led by Sheila Cameron and the Data Standards Council and we begin to see the shape of things to come. The market has therefore embarked on a journey and one that could eventually conclude with an “app store-type experience” (that is, an environment where all parties can trade and, following the recent agreement with DXC, potentially a place where a variety of best-in-class, third-party applications are available).
That agreement is crucial as it will, for the first time, allow third-party solutions providers to participate, opening up a wealth of expertise, flexibility and futureproofing which offers the market a fighting chance of resolving a range of problems once and for all.
The ambition and determination driving the reinvention of critical market systems are to be applauded, yet several crucial factors should be considered in turning this laudable vision into a working reality. Consideration for the customer at every point in the development of this new electronic trading environment, particularly during the early stages, is paramount.
As well as delivering reduced costs and improved efficiency for market participants, this is a huge opportunity to eradicate the classic cost and complexity bugbears customers have when placing business in the Lloyd’s and London markets.
Regarding the move to standardise data, this is a perfectly logical step to enable all in the market to transact in the same way. It makes far less sense, however, to impose those standards on coverholders, third-party administrators (TPAs) and others as this is almost certain to add, rather than remove, cost and complexity for customers – the exact opposite of what Blueprint Two is trying to accomplish.
Harnessing the rapid technological advances of recent years and making them available with the urgency the market needs them will require over-engineered procurement and project processes to be updated
Finding ways to make it easy for coverholders and other customers to share relevant information with the market is essential if that is to be avoided. Customers operate a broad variety of different systems with variable data output and the market already holds vast amounts of data about coverholders in the form of binder contracts, years of account, risk coding and rules.
Yet so often they are asked to resubmit this information. By focusing instead on obtaining data coverholders and TPAs naturally capture and by combining that with what the market already has, this would greatly reduce the information customers are required to provide monthly. Using available electronic means, this information could be validated then converted into Acord standards to significantly reduce the burdensome reporting requirement.
Many savvy and attuned vendors have been hard at work developing innovative products to resolve issues such as this and many others, some of which are available marketwide, some specific to individual businesses and others that could become marketwide. Much of this dedicated and innovative resource has been refined in various guises over many years; assembling it in one place and making it centrally available could be extremely powerful.
There is a concern that in pressing ahead toward its modernisation goals and holding itself to ever-higher standards, the market could become even more complex and expensive for customers. Ipos and Icos, however, promise to be extremely positive as, if the market truly opens up to third-party providers to make the best solutions available, this boasts the potential to power the transformation the market seeks.
To further realise the vision will require the market to change the way it changes: we cannot truly modernise unless we first modernise our change processes. Harnessing the rapid technological advances of recent years and making them available with the urgency the market needs them will require over-engineered procurement and project processes to be updated.
For example, under existing processes it can take six to nine months to identify and approve a vendor; in that time, using modern rapid-build techniques, a solution could have been created and implemented. There is now a golden opportunity to change that and avoid market participants becoming tired and cynical as a result of delays and the vision being choked by obstructive project governance.
As the British government showed by expediting the rules during the pandemic, pharmaceutical companies were able to deliver critical treatments far faster. A similar approach could adopted to enable the market to access the remedies it needs faster and without compromising quality. Building, testing and implementation all happen so much faster now than when existing procurement procedures were drawn up. If project, approval and testing processes were to mirror that, for example by conducting checks in paralleled rather than at the end, sign-off could be granted in stages, which would dramatically reduce the time required for solutions to become available.
Many have not forgotten the numerous attempts to implement big-bang solutions that fizzled into expensive failures and the market can ill afford to repeat historic mistakes in attempting to realise the promise of Blueprint Two. Yet, at the same time, the market has never before had better technology or expertise at its disposal. Updating procurement processes, opening up the central function and remaining mindful of the customer throughout promises not only to help achieve the vision but, by harnessing the collective capability available, to propel the market well beyond it.
Paul Bermingham is managing director of Advent Insurance Management and chief executive of Ecliptic.tech