Modernisation, disruption, innovation … These days you can’t move in the London insurance market without seeing the topic in the headlines or hearing it discussed.
But talk is cheap, as they say, and it’s clear that the digital-savvy generation is impatient to see things happen.
We launched the CSC Digital Minds programme to engage a group of market participants who weren’t formally involved in market modernisation initiatives but were interested in both modernisation and technology.
Our first roundtable was chaired by Dominic Christian, CEO of Aon UK and chair of Inclusion@Lloyd’s. Dominic is well known in the market for his support of diversity and his drive to seek new perspectives. He asked the delegates to share their thoughts openly, and welcomed their fresh insights.
Views from participants were forthright and telling. There was frustration at the pace and scale of change, at the level of communication to the market and in obstacles to modernising the industry. But there was optimism too, with many participants citing examples of innovation in practice.
It was agreed that talking about modernisation generally brings one of two reactions: a) enthusiasm from newcomers and converts, or b) cynicism, followed by a look-back at previous failed change projects. But the delegates had little patience with looking back: “This isn’t the ’90s – technology has moved on since then!,” one said
Other barriers were less obvious but wide-reaching. Organisations seeing the reason for change first need to fix their own internal issues. Others have the view that “if we just wait for TOM (the London Market Target Operating Model) it’ll do it for us.”
Valid positions perhaps, but can the market afford to wait?
The delegates wanted more urgency: “Seeing real innovation feels like you’ve been slapped in the face” said one of the delegates. Another agreed: “The TOM is a fantastic stepping stone, but it’s just that – a stepping stone. It’s not what we would think of as innovative.”
Innovation in progress
While it’s easy to criticise, the delegates were also realistic, and focused on value. “I understand the importance of relationships, but it’s a waste of everyone’s time to spend a whole morning walking around the market to accomplish what you can do with one email.”
This view epitomised how the market needs to change: Retain what is most valuable, like strong face-to-face relationships, but automate the time-consuming, repetitive and low-value activities.
There was also optimism. The group felt they could have positive conversations in their organisations about modernisation: “Leaders don’t have all the answers – but they are willing to listen.”
Many in the group cited examples in their own companies or elsewhere where innovation was happening successfully, and noted instances when it was included in performance goals and appraisals. These pockets of innovation – like the Digital Minds program – can be used strategically to build cultural change in the market and spread the word from the ground up.
Keeping it real
As chair, Dominic let the ideas flow but kept the group grounded. “Talking from experience,” he said, “change doesn’t happen overnight. You have the opportunity to make incremental change, which can and will grow into something significant. Modernisation is being driven at a senior level because that’s needed to get the buy in to make it happen, but persevere! You have valuable insights and we need your energy and knowledge to drive this forward to success.”
Paula Wilson is marketing director at Xchanging, a CSC company. Wilson was recently named to the 2016 Women in FinTech Powerlist that celebrates the contributions of women in the development of the global FinTech sector. Prior to her role at Xchanging, Wilson worked extensively in financial services, including insurance, asset management and debt markets, at XL Catlin, Deutsche Bank and Nat West Group respectively.