Skip to main content

The Underwriting Room, the next chapter in our journey

Last week I had the chance to look round the work being done on our Underwriting Room.

As the world’s oldest hotdesking space, Lloyd’s has always provided a place for brokers and underwriters to convene and collaborate to underwrite the world’s risks.

We’re using this latest pause in trading to introduce some much needed improvements to our Room. It follows extensive consultation with our market, who told us that despite the advances of modern technology, they still wanted a space to gather and solve the complex problems our market is built on.

Looking round, it took some imagination to scale up from a scaffolded site to the revamped nerve centre of the global insurance industry... but already, one can see how the Room will look.

Updated boxes mirroring the spirit of their predecessors, while meeting the standards of modern ergonomics and lighting... upgraded services and WiFi connections… and from the colours to the typefaces, every detail reflecting and respecting the unique nature of Lloyd’s history and the bespoke nature of our building.

A handshake between old and new

But contrary to what some might believe, and to current debates around technology: these changes will not see old giving way to new – nor humans giving way to robots in some dystopian digital future.

Instead, it’s a handshake between the time-tested models of the past and the brave possibilities of the future. A clearer definition of where people, places, technology and data can add value to make better use of our collective time, energy and resources.

That means identifying where technology can simplify and improve our processes, while freeing brokers and underwriters to provide the expert advice and counsel our customers need in uncertain times.

It means seeing how digital transacting can provide flexibility, speed and security – while supplementing a physical space that allows us to collaborate, innovate and welcome new joiners in a way we can’t online. (Even Zoom has now acknowledged the limitations of remote working.)

That’s what the transformation of our room is all about: a thoughtful integration of old and new to blend digital transactions with human interactions; artificial intelligence with emotional intelligence; and machine learning with learned experience.

Into the future 

So to those who fear Lloyd’s has lost sight of its historical roots or its place in time and space: fear not. This is merely the next iteration of our market’s journey to underwrite the world’s risks.

That journey has taken us from a coffee shop on Tower Street to our current home on Lime Street – with a few stops in between – each step dictated by the changing needs of our customers and the persistent growth of our market.

Which is why we must continue that evolution. The external landscape will keep changing at an accelerating pace; and Lloyd’s will continue growing (see our 2023 growth outlook for context).

So all in all, I’m excited to usher in this new chapter. And as the scaffolding comes down, I’m ready to see how the new space supports our market’s growth and vibrancy as it continues stepping into the future.

Bruce Carnegie-Brown - Chairman, Lloyd's

10 Aug 2023