Transforming Lloyd’s – The Challenge of a Lifetime

DOCOsoft recently held its annual DOCO Summit where employees get together – normally face to face but virtual for the last two years – to enhance the team’s ability to provide a best of breed claims management capability to customers, develop new skills and celebrate the company’s growth. 

The DOCO team were also treated to an informative session that was led by Dame Inga Beale who certainly had a huge impact during her time as CEO of Lloyd’s of London. She kindly shared her experience with DOCOsoft’s employees to round off the summit. Inga’s passion for the 325+ years insurance icon is undimmed, while her well-publicised views on D&I and knowledge of the corporation’s history were hugely appreciated by the DOCOsoft software developers, business analysts and project managers

As the first female chief executive at Lloyd’s of London, Dame Inga Beale, helped to guide and expand the market’s global access across high growth markets, including China, Dubai and India. Inga also played a critical role in advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives across the global insurance sector, as she explained exclusively to an audience of DOCOsoft employees.

Over the nearly 40 years that Inga worked in professional, and financial services, she explained that the transformation of Lloyd’s was the biggest challenge she faced in her career. A summary of her impassioned 45-minute talk on the history of Lloyd’s and its modern incarnation as a staunch promoter of D&I initiatives can be found below.

Dame Inga outlined the history of Lloyd’s, its very beginnings from a coffee shop to a trading floor specialising in insurance and how it built a professional reputation creating a global business.

I thought it was all going to be about technology but as I embarked on the project, I realised, of course, that it was much more about culture change. When I was approached for the job, the institution was 325 years old. And the fascinating thing was, it was still operating as it always had done over three centuries – on paper! It was quite extraordinary. My predecessors over decades had failed to introduce technology into the market, spent millions of pounds, and yet repeatedly failed to achieve any of the transformation that was desperately required.

Replacing Paper with Technology

It is amazing but 40 billion euros of business was being traded annually in the same way it had been over three centuries earlier. I could not destroy the Live Marketplace, but I was asked to replace the paper with technology. Thank goodness we managed to get that technology in, because when COVID struck the physical trading room had to close, and the technology was there to enable that placing of the risk, but straight online now.

The first thing I had to do was work out why the people were so resistant. The claims area had  been transformed when, years ago, a common sight was the claims broker pulling his wheelie suitcase into Lloyd’s full of the paper that supported a claim.  The fear was that brokers would lose their jobs, but when the electronic file came in for claims, the brokers said, this is fantastic, they could still meet in person, but all the paperwork was now in an electronic file.

Technology is transforming businesses all over the place. Whether it is robotics, machine learning, or artificial intelligence, companies are adopting technology, processing huge amounts of data and acting smarter. Some companies have been catapulted forward, because they were forced to go electronic so they did not have a crisis when the pandemic struck last year.

Changing the ‘Mates’ Culture

The ‘mates’ culture at Lloyd’s was very strong, whether employees were young or old. Even the young, dynamic new joiners, with a mobile phone in their hands would before long become clones of the people in the club. They could not be disruptive, or challenge the way things were being done, because they had to conform to this culture. I said we have got to modernise this place, this culture, these behaviours and hierarchies. That starts with empowering people and giving autonomy back to individuals

Digitally Savvy

We had to change Lloyd’s, to make it attractive to digitally savvy people. We did lots of work trying to make it more modern, using social media.  I took on reverse mentors, and had  a few people who wanted to be my mentor. I would ask my  reverse mentors, what I needed to do differently, how things were going down in the  market, and what needed to change.

I needed to do something about the culture, because when I walked across the trading room, I could see this club of people very much like themselves. I could see very few females in senior roles and very few people that weren’t white. We’ve got to get new people in to have a different viewpoint with new ideas. For me, the whole topic of diversity and inclusion became absolutely a business imperative, alongside introducing all the technology. They were parallel streams that I had to focus on, because we couldn’t do one without the other.

Celebrating Diversity, Celebrating Difference

I started talking at town halls. I started using words like gay, lesbian, and bisexual. Then employee resource groups started up naturally, followed by a LGBT network. It shows the power of just talking about things, letting employees have resource groups, celebrating diversity, celebrating difference. I believe there’s a real part for businesses to play in the world today.

We launched our Dive In festival, a celebration of diversity and inclusion, educating people on the importance of diversity and inclusion and, importantly, highlighting the benefits to business. Little did I know that there would be an amazing positive response from the workers that were attending these events, with thousands of people participating. Many more people are now involved in the conversation, starting to demand action.

I feel very proud about lifting Lloyd’s from the 17th century into the 21st century. We have started the journey. We have also started Lloyd’s lab to make sure that there is innovation coming from outside from different countries, in a very fast paced dynamic environment. The leadership must set the tone,  encourage, empower and enable. But individuals have a part to play in this too. I am very passionate about the topic of D&I. Organising Lloyd’s was fantastic, but diversity and inclusion is my continuing passion now that I semi-retired!

Dame Inga’s insights today generated a lot of interest within DOCOsoft and clearly demonstrated her passion for the industry and her desire to leave a lasting positive impression on the Lloyd’s market and empower people to make a difference.