The image of Misys in the market is lagging behind the truth. So if perception were reality the company would have ceased to exist long ago, according to Misys General Insurance chief executive Phillip Bell. On the company's 25th anniversary he speaks to Jonathan Russell about Misys, the market and the competition

Speaking to brokers there is a feeling that software houses generally, but including Misys are not servicing their market as well as they could be. The message from brokers seems to be 'They're not really exciting us, they just do what they have to do and that's about it'. How do you respond?I would take more angst about that than about any other market perception, because we do develop stridently innovative stuff, OASys Commercial, FSA and Premium Finance for example. Premium Finance was working and out there within a nine-month period, from concept to delivery. Fast moving and innovative is what we are, but somehow we're just not getting that through to the general market and we have to do that, it's part of our challenge.

How do you plan to achieve that aim?We've taken communication much more seriously over the past year to 18 months, employing dedicated people, being better in compiling releases to the press etc. Having said that, we are very proud of the communication to our customers. We do immensely big roadshows each and every year. But that doesn't drive market perception, because you have all sorts of factors such as competitor information and insurer agendas.

You mention competitor information, where do you see Misys sitting in the market place? And where do you see the competition? Misys General Insurance is the largest software provider, the largest network in almost any way that you want to measure that against its competitors, and has been so for a good number of years. This year we have shown record returns. The most money, the most order intake, the most EDI transactions and the most profit that Misys has ever done within general insurance.

What do you put that down to? Lots of things, primarily the continuing relationship with our customers, the fact that most of our customers have been with us for a long time, and they stay with us. That financial strength is driven from those customer relationships and those relationships are there built on the product offering and the service offering that we have. All businesses are simple at the end of the day. It's about products the customers want to buy, the quality of the products that you provide and the servicing that goes round all of those things.

And where do you see the competition?At SSP, David Rasche has done a much better job over this past year than CSC did in its previous three years. You can see the makings of a consolidation process within it, which should potentially bear better fruit than it has in the past. Heading towards a flotation there are always interesting dynamics.

According to the market rumours that we hear, Sirius has been having a number of implementation issues. I think this has limited its threat to us. At this moment in time we're very, very cognisant of our competitors, very aware of what the market changes are and dynamics and our customer requirements, but we're doing good, but there'smore to be done.

Misys is in the first wave of software houses to sign up to imarket even though market rumours suggested you were not interested in the project. Does this mean that Misys is now committed to the project? You are reflecting perception and not reality. The insurers decided which software houses are to be in the first wave, we didn't choose it. The insurers have a vested interest, as does imarket, in getting the most successful, the most volume, the most efficiently traded platform up and going as soon as possible, because imarket itself has some question marks over its existence. We're most keen to do imarket integration, because we see it as being a big accelerator of OASys Commercial.

Are insurers ready for this?Some are, some are not. But they will at least get standard data. Part of imarket's task is that it will send data to each insurer in the format that that insurer wants it. Imarket is doing the clever bit, which is connecting insurers. In the longer term insurers will be incentivised to be quicker, better at the response, but for some insurers that's a massive task.

Where do you see the broker market going over the next few years?Commercial lines and household insurance are going to become more and more important while motor declines, although motor's still a big gross written premium number in its own right.

Who does your own personal motor cover?A broker customer, and I won't say the name because I might upset all my other customers, suffice to say it is an existing broking customer of Misys.