Amid the market’s announcement about a new chief operating officer, some industry professionals are questioning the pace of digital transformation at Lloyd’s

By Jon Guy

Process reform has been a dirty phrase in the London market for almost three decades.

The number of initiatives that have been launched and subsequently fallen on stony ground over the years are many.

However, Lloyd’s chief executive John Neal used the appointment of the market’s new chief operating officer, Bob James, on 14 March 2023 to say that its Blueprint Two digital transformation programme – part of the Future at Lloyd’s strategy – is making progress.

Neal said: “The Blueprint Two programme is making steady progress in our drive towards market digitalisation.”

Jon Guy

Jon Guy

ETrading developments

For those who are not au fait with Blueprint Two, the £300m digital revamp project – published in November 2020 – was designed to be a “comprehensive strategy to deliver profound change in the Lloyd’s market through digitalisation, making Lloyd’s a cheaper, faster and more efficient place to do business”.

Neal’s latest comments will be welcomed by many in the industry amid growing frustration that the money for the project has been committed, but there has so far been little visible progress for those outside the market to spot.

That being said, the Placing Platform Limited (PPL) initiative, which forms the basis for the electronic placement of risks in the Lloyd’s market, reported the binding of its first risk on the PPL Next Gen platform in early March 2023 via broker Lockton. This was 100% written by Markel International.

A key facet included in Blueprint Two was the creation of an eTrading platform to underwrite non-complex risks. This metric strove to deliver a system that would make these risks financially viable for Lloyd’s, given that the market’s current physical placement system featured frictional costs which made risks of a certain level unattractive to place. This was deemed a vision and suddenly did not appear when the market transferred from Blueprint One to Blueprint Two.

The PPL Next Gen platform may open up access to Lloyd’s for regional brokers, but updates on the progress of the platform have so far been scarce.

Pace of progress?

However, the term “steady progress” can hide a multitude of sins.

One person’s steady can be another person’s glacial pace.

Some market commentators will argue that a single risk, bound 100% with one insurer on platform designed for risks in a subscription market is hardly cause to get the bunting out.

Lloyd’s of London’s new chief operating officer James assumes his position having been the market’s transformation director since May 2021. Within his remit is the oversight to align Blueprint Two with One Lime Street’s day-to-day operations.

Whether that remit entails steadying the ship or increasing the speed of knots we will have to wait and see - but Lloyd’s will need to show tangible progress to quieten the doubters.