What drives the value in an insurance business?
Is it a unique product proposition, or unrivalled distribution channels? Or perhaps a lean operating model or capital efficiency is the secret sauce?
But you could argue that in today’s world, the competitive advantage on all of these fronts is becoming increasingly marginal.
Where businesses really go head to head today is on talent – and that ultimately means competing on culture. Companies today increasingly vie for talent on the ethos they embody, the standards they hold and the values they share.
This could be the reason why every single keynote speaker at our London Market Conference late last week without fail highlighted culture as a major differentiator in the fight to keep the market relevant in tomorrow’s world.
And in a snap poll of delegates, culture was highlighted as the third most-pressing challenge for the London market in the medium term, with 26 percent of the vote. This was only marginally behind market modernisation (29 percent) and expense reduction (30 percent).
You could argue that the culture piece has always been central in a people-focused business like insurance. And recent developments and negative headlines have only honed the market's focus on the subject.
The irony of the situation is, though, is that while the majority would say the London market has a culture problem (and the Lloyd’s culture survey lent significant weight to that argument) no single London market company would say that of themselves.
However, if real improvement on culture is to be made then every London market company needs to admit that there is more to be done – from whatever baseline.
In fact, regulators including Lloyd’s and the PRA have signalled that they will not wait around and will soon demand to see progress, with minimum standards on conduct brought in for companies.
If culture wasn’t a board-level issue before, it is now.
Creating a more inclusive culture will require investment and must be embedded within strategy – and, as such, it can only be brought about by those in the market who have the power to initiate change.
The discussion is aimed at senior leaders and for that reason we are holding the session under Chatham House rules, so delegates can speak candidly about this challenge in an open forum.
Lloyd's CEO John Neal is among the C-suite line up of speakers and he is keen to hear the market’s concerns and ideas on how to address the culture problem in the London market.
We are nearing standing room only, but we are urging more senior leaders and managers to come and be part of the conversation.
Because if culture isn’t top of your agenda today, what will drive value in your business tomorrow?
For full speaker line-up and sign-up details for the event, click here.