PPL CEO, Sue Jakobek, features in today’s Insurance Day Focus: A rejuvenated PPL will extend the front line of market modernisation: Insurance Day (informa.com)

The last year has seen a systemic shift in the way that London Market operates, triggered by the sudden onset of remote working but sustained through the whole-hearted adoption of electronic placement. While there is considerable agreement that face-to-face trading and physical proximity delivers a great deal of value that the market does not want to lose, there is no doubt that many changes will become more permanent. Part of that is the work we are doing to improve PPL, and over the last six months we have been working with users to understand what they would like to see in terms of the look and functionality of the platform.

Our aim is to make electronic placement as intuitive to users as face-to-face placement. We have three overriding goals:

  • Delivering quality, real-time data – PPL will have the level of structured data and richness of APIs so users get the intelligence they need.
  • Evolving to meet changing needs – with modern tooling and architecture PPL will be able to adapt at pace and without burdensome cost.
  • Offering insights and intelligence – structured data and MI/BI to make more efficient and informed placement and deliver detailed downstream analytics.

We have more than 90 market experts, covering 10 different types of market roles from over 30 broking and underwriting firms helping us to deliver on these goals. All development on the new platform is designed from a User Experience (UX) perspective, using both the feedback that we have received from the subject matter experts in the market and the knowledge of the internal PPL Product Owners.

Making data flow

We already know that if the platform is used from the start of the process through to bind and endorsement, then the audit trail and history of the risk is all in one place. Getting the right data in at the start is a key part of that process. With the input from our SMEs on new functionality, we believe that the redefined Quote function will mimic the way people work today as well as how they may want to work in the future.

We are making it easier to interface to the market’s proprietary systems using APIs. This work has already begun and will continue through 2021. This will make system to system integration easier, so it will be possible for the platform to ingest data and documents from a broker’s system, as well as do simple things like retrieve an underwriters’ line reference from their system. The new platform will also provide simple ‘drag & drop’ functionality to allow documents to be moved from one application to another. Document contents can also be ‘digitised’ with data being automatically extracted, thus reducing cost and the burden of re-keying. The digitiser function will use Artificial Intelligence to continuously learn and improve the process of ‘reading’ your MRCs.

We are also designing a renewal function that will allow a Placement structure to be moved from one year to the next with a simple click, with automatic renewal history links being built between the multiple years. Where relevant, data, documents and markets will be copied over to the new Placement, reducing the need to re-key large amounts of data.

We are working closely with our colleagues on the Future at Lloyd’s programme and have representation on teams discussing improvements and the requirements for a Core Data Record.

Looking forward

The design and build of the next generation of the PPL platform is now well under way. Work on the user experience and the outputs from it are being well received by subject matter experts, who have given positive feedback on the substantial improvements being delivered, for example; “The layout is so much clearer and the ability to see the Placement structure all in one place is a real win.” and “it’s impressive to actually see an MRC being truly digitised without having to type anything in, it will save me loads of time!”.

Having targeted our delivery around the best window of opportunity in 2021 for the market in terms of renewals, it has become clear that this was too ambitious. The market appetite is to work with a few early adopters in the second half of 2021, with a broader roll out in the first half of 2022. We are taking a deliberately cautious approach given the scope and scale of the project. And we will continue to actively engage with the market and our subject matter experts, with a focus on APIs, simulations and training, to live up to our approach of “by the market, for the market”.

The very essence of a successful marketplace is that it is many-to-many, it delivers choice through critical mass. PPL currently has 185 brokers and 175 underwriting firms on the platform, offering the widest possible selection of business partners and risk classes – absolutely vital if you want real market choice for your electronic placements. On average the platform is binding over 15,000 risks a month and 64,000 firm orders, offering liquidity and critical mass. The new normal is still some way in front of us, and it is too early to understand definitively what will change – but there can be no doubt that electronic placement will be a crucial part of it, and we will ensure our new platform delivers what the market is asking for.