Covid-19 threatens ‘ecosystem’ of London market: Carnegie-Brown

The new working patterns brought about by Covid-19 could threaten the specialist “ecosystem” of the London market, which has historically been a unique selling point, Bruce Carnegie-Brown warned.

The Lloyd’s chairman said that the cluster of businesses around Lime Street had been “one of the great competitive advantages” of the London market, and had been challenged by the pandemic, which forced people to work remotely.

“One of the great attractions of London as a global centre of insurance is that as an ecosystem it all is within 10 minutes of Lime Street,” Carnegie-Brown said.

“It has been incredibly easy for customers and brokers to get business done, not just with brokers and underwriters, but loss adjusters, accountants and lawyers specialising in the industry.

“The ability to physically do that within EC3 has been one of the great competitive advantages of the London market globally.”

The executive praised the way the industry had continued to operate effectively during the pandemic, but said there were questions about how a more remote workforce could deliver London’s unique selling point.

“Will we lose something in the London market by not having people as physically proximate as they were before?” he asked.

“And if insurance decisions end up being very diluted or dispersed across the ether of the internet and virtual connectivity, will we lose something at the heart of the London market over time?”

The Lloyd’s chairman made the comments in a fireside chat as part of the (Re)Connect virtual conference organised by Insurance Insider.

He said that the scale of the Covid-19 impact had been “extraordinary” and voiced support for partnering with governments to provide insurance solutions for future pandemics.

“There’s absolutely a need to partner not just across the industry in thinking about our response, and particularly trying to build resilience into future events of this kind, but also to partner with governments,” Carnegie-Brown said.

He explained that the pandemic had been more complicated than traditional catastrophe events because it affected multiple lines of business and was not a single event in terms of the losses it had triggered.

He said there was evidence of global capital dislocation and that as a result more business had been flowing into Lloyd’s than at this time last year.

Carnegie-Brown added that culture remained a key focus for the Corporation and that he hoped market participants would work to improve the diversity of their workforce.

“My preference is that people choose to do the right things themselves, but as a body providing oversight to the marketplace we can encourage the market to move in the right direction,” he said.

To view this discussion and other (Re)Connect sessions on demand for free, click here.

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