Talking about my generation - who knows what the post lockdown future holds?
Roddy Langley takes a look at possible scenarios on the Home Front and for the Lime Street electronic trading conundrum
Back in the day I was lucky enough to see The Who in concert at their loudest when legendary Keith Moon was still with us, destroying his drums and assaulting our eardrums.
Many hits from that era are also still with us today, no more so than ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ which ends with the prophetic line “Meet the new boss – same as the old boss!”
Many people have commented on how things will revert, or not go back, when the current epidemic has faded away to something more manageable and less intrusive to our day-to-day lives.
Predictions of Lloyd’s closing its doors - and becoming a coffee house again, ho ho - have been bandied around (pun intended).
At the same time the soothsayers whisper that City offices becoming no more than in-house corporate WeWorks as we all set up permanent domestic shops, buy better hardware and Internet access, and sort out our backgrounds for video conference calls with colleagues and clients so that we don’t appear with a clothes hook growing out of our head or look like something out of The Shining with the window directly behind us.
Face-to-face broking will not disappear
I’m confident that a sensible and workable compromise will be reached for EC3, where face-to-face broking and underwriting and electronic trading will live together in perfect harmony rather better than the memory of this McCartney Wonder collaboration.
But working from home (WFH) is a different kettle of fish. To my mind it has been a huge success, in that on Monday 23rd March, it was panic a la Captain Mannering, brokers rushing off to PC World to buy another screen, bedrooms and kitchen space being transformed into office zones and everybody latching onto Zoom and Google Hangout conference calls like they were the last helicopter out of Saigon.
The proof of the pudding was in the broking and contract certainty never tasted so good. Okay, it took a bit longer to get used to broking outside Lloyd’s, there were hiccups of course, and a broker friend of mine had to work until 11.35 on the 31st March to get his 1/4 renewals home - but he did it and, as far as I can see, so did many other brokers.
I loved my time in Lloyd’s, which funnily enough pretty much coincided with the heyday of The Who. And several of my peers have commented that with WFH they missed underwriter broker face to face discussion when challenged by a complex risk issue that required negotiation to secure an agreeable solution to the problem. But they need fear not, insurance will always be the People Business.
You better, you better, you bet
But business dealings can steal a march by using remote meetings and negotiations, particularly with parties who have already met each other in the physical world, and the main benefits would seem to be speed of getting things agreed in conference calls, and the undoubted time and financial savings.
We have launched our own initiative for this cause, Lysander Together, the name reflecting the aim to bring a remote audience of delegates, business partners or employees into a digital gathering, with a full PR service wrapped around it to promote and reinforce communications and messaging in conjunction with online, hosted events including webinars, virtual roundtables, podcast recordings and video blogs.
Hopefully the insurance industry won’t get fooled again and not go completely back to how things were before, but will grasp the opportunities unexpectedly offered to us as a result of this terrible time.
The Luddites have surely had their day now, dragging their heels on electronic trading for so long and the London Market down with them at the same time, as demonstrated by the fact now clear for all to see that what has taken years to be seen as critical for the market has now been proven overnight.
The same applies for WFH - let’s be honest, if this had been planned the whole transfer would have probably taken 18 months to achieve rather than the 8 days it actually did.
It’s something for My Generation to think about.