The Apple of Lloyd's eye
Lloyd's is making a play to become the Apple of insurance
It was a smooth and glitzy production. The room was dressed in the corporate colour scheme and packed with loyal followers and interested stakeholders. There was a buzz of anticipation.
A hush descended as a slick video played over a lightly chilled techno soundtrack.
Then the leaders emerged one by one to sell the new vision to the awaiting populace.
They wore their microphones in the modern style first popularized by Madonna in the early 90’s – strapping from behind one ear to give them free rein to prowl the stage like evangelist preachers.
The scene was redolent of a West Coast software or hardware launch. It even had a wonderfully Elon Musk-y title – Blueprint One.
Blueprint One soundslike the codename for a mission to mars or the breakthrough next gen Tesla that runs on household waste, like the Delorean in Back to the Future.
If this were the West Coast there would have been fireworks and marching bands. A rock legend would have been resurrected to play one last gig.
The crowd would have whooped and punctuated the leaders’ addresses with unprompted applause, like amens to a Baptist pastor.
But no, this was sober, rainy London in autumn and the product being re-engineered was the venerable and ancient Lloyd’s market. The speakers didn’t need the radio mikes because they stuck to the podium, and the script.
Yet the downbeat and slightly anti-climactic Britishness of the affair only lent to its gravitas. Here were no messianic visionaries promising the moon, the stars and eternal disruption, but professionals pledging incremental change.
This was a bold launch minus the hubris and the change on offer was of the type that we could believe in.
The prize was laid out clearly: Expense ratios slashed almost in half. Volume business dealt with efficiently, claims triaged and paid semi-automatically, complex risk sorted and syndicated, capital welcomed in new structures, able to trade in and out much faster. Safe underwriting innovation positively encouraged inside boxes.
An ecosystem of suppliers and data insights to rival anything anywhere on earth.
Documents eventually on their way out – digital-first on the way in, but after a doc-plus-digital transition – so perhaps more a digital-close-second rather than first.
Who wouldn’t want all these things?
And to deliver them was a sensible platform of reformed Lloyd’s base structures and principles, including a radical change in focus of the Corporation.
This was to include Gallery 12 taking a stronger role in setting and enforcing a broader range of standards, accrediting service providers and building and running the technical solutions in the ecosystem.
User experience – so often the forgotten child of B2B technological reform - also got more than an honorable mention.
And despite the sobriety, there was a little theatre and finesse.
There was a surprise – the unveiling of the Munich Re innovation syndicate in a box that elicited a small audible gasp from those assembled.
We closed with more videos, calls to action and steady applause.
As we headed for drinks, we had a head full of things to think about.
Lloyd’s ambition is bold, as is the Corporation’s willingness to take responsibility for setting standards and building some of the brave new world itself.
Then on the way home it suddenly struck me.
Lloyd's is making a play to be the Apple of insurance.
Why else would it want proprietary standards in a world that has been crying out for the abolition of Londonisms for decades?
Apple products are the best and the ecosystem that they inhabit as rich and diverse as Xanadu. Once inside people rarely leave, in fact once inside it is actually quite hard to decamp to the cheaper Android platform.
This is because of Apple’s control of standards and where customer data is held.
But customers are mostly willing captives because the experience is so good
Apple doesn't compete on price and is the biggest market cap firm in the world as a consequence.
If Lloyd’s can create the world’s best insurance marketplace it will deserve similar success. But to do this it must have a laser focus on superlative user experience and find product designers as good as Jony Ive.
The prize is stellar, as is the challenge. But there can be no faulting Lloyd’s vision and vaulting ambition.
So on reflection this was much more like a West Coast product launch after all!
I was lucky to be able to say I was there to bear witness at first hand.