‘It is embarrassing if there are more underwriters in Leadenhall market than there are at the box,’ one broker stated

The willingness of underwriters to trade from the Lloyd’s Underwriting Room has become a “point of contention for young brokers”, according to the London and International Insurance Brokers’ Association (Liiba).

The broker body’s latest research, which was published yesterday (13 June 2023), found that underwriters have reduced their time at the box to only Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

Insurer’s attendance rotas, which tend to be circulated to brokers on Sundays, were also often left unfulfilled.

As a result, Liiba found brokers felt reluctant to bring clients to visit the underwriting room.

“It is embarrassing if there are more underwriters in Leadenhall market than there are at the box,” one broker stated.

Broker lounges

The research, which was published in a report entitled Our face-to-face future, also found broker lounges were unpopular with participants.

Brokers stressed that 15-minute appointments usually granted by underwriters allowed insufficient time for a productive discussion – especially after clearing building security, calling a lift and exchanging pleasantries.

Some also cited instances when overseas contacts had made remarks about the lack of staff in the market on Fridays.

Liiba board member Jason Collins explained that “the London market is a community and communities need a focal point – like a school or a church”.

“In the London insurance market, that focal point always has been and should be the underwriting room,” he added.

“A vibrant room attracts talent. It is an exciting, invigorating place to do business – and it fosters innovation.”

Call for change

Meanwhile, Liiba found that out of more than 50 brokers across four workshops, some 97% said they wanted their working life to comprise of at least 50% face-to-face trading with underwriters.

In terms of trading-type allocation, brokers believe half of London market business is suitable for face-to-face interaction.

And one broker said that she would leave the industry if she was no longer expected to meet people.

“The message from young brokers is a stark one,” said Collins.

“They want to trade face-to-face, they want to build the relationships that would underpin that and they want to do this in a room restored to its position as a true trading floor where decisions are made.”

Chris Croft, chief executive at Liiba, added the discussion with the brokers had “set out a pathway to the marketplace of the future”.

“It is time to get moving,” he added.