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Q&A with Caroline Bedford, London Market Modernisation Lead, CSC

Last week, CSC held its first Digital Minds Think Tank, which gathered an elite group of innovative professionals from broker, carrier and associated organisations within the square mile to share ideas and views on how digital technology could trigger positive change within the London Market.

Led by Caroline Bedford, London Market Modernisation Lead for CSC, participants listened to a keynote speech from Brian Wallace, CSC’s CTO for Insurance, and heard about the London Market TOM and Innovation Council from Justin Emrich, CIO of Atrium Underwriting. They then broke into groups to debate the challenges facing the market and come up with their views on how the market can best drive change. A report on their findings will be published soon.

After the session, we caught up with Caroline to discuss her role and what digitisation means for insurance.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role.

I was brought up in Liverpool and moved to the South East when I was 11. Because of my accent, I quickly felt that to fit in I needed to conform, so I set about swapping my Scouse accent for a Home Counties one. These days, I feel differently about having to ‘conform’ to represent value. I’m a committed supporter of diversity. I feel fortunate to be in an industry and job that I love, and I’m always willing to share my knowledge and experience with anyone who needs support to take that next step.

I’ve spent almost all of my career working within the Specialty Lines market; initially as a Business Consultant, working on programmes to implement systems for re(insurers) at Lloyd’s and across the globe, but also spending a number of years as Lead Analyst for a London Market carrier.

My role at CSC is London Market Modernisation Lead. I work closely with senior representatives from brokers, carriers and associations within the Market to understand their priorities and strategies, and I share with them insight on CSC’s InsurTech initiatives.  I collaborate with CSC’s senior management team to ensure CSC’s strategies are aligned and well placed to support the market in its drive to become more digital.

What was your first job?

My first job was as an administrator for a Financial Services company. This was the 80’s – most things were done manually, and the fax machine was an exciting invention! I was working in a department that had an IT Manager who spotted my interest in technology and became my mentor; this led me to a job with a Lloyd’s Managing Agency, and the rest is history. I feel fortunate to have had that help when I needed it, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so keen to support those who seek opportunity within the market now.

Talk us through a typical workday.

CSC has a mobile working culture; our mobile platform means I can work from anywhere, be it home, office, customer site, airport or coffee shop. Have smartphone, will travel!  An ‘onsite’ day can mean being on the 6:52am to arrive in the City for breakfast with a client or market connection. We’ll talk about the progress of something we’re involved in together, such as the Central Services Refresh Programme (CSRP), one of the London Market TOM work streams, or I’ll be canvassing support for a CSC initiative, such as our recently launched Digital Minds programme. I’ll then head over to CSC’s offices at Walbrook to discuss the outcomes with the teams before heading out again for more market meetings.

If I’m working at home, I’ll be using my home office to work on Digital Minds, research InsurTech activity, look at what the London Market TOM team are publishing, or contributing material for some of our Xuber or CSC campaigns.  Skype and conference calls are a big part of the CSC toolset, as is the ability to structure your time according to your calendar. Working for a global organisation means early and late calls to fit in with various time zones, so having a flexible approach to working is key. 

What do you enjoy about working at CSC?

CSC is results-driven and open to supporting opportunities. If you have an idea that you can make a case for, and demonstrate you have a strong chance of delivering, you’re supported; that’s refreshing. I also have access to some of the brightest and most driven people in the industry. I have a huge pool of expertise I can draw on both from inside CSC and from within our partnership network, which in an increasingly digital world has become more and more important.

Tell us more about the Digital Minds programme

Digital Minds is an initiative we’ve just launched which aims to support innovation within the London Market by giving a platform to a mixed panel of representatives from the broker and carrier communities. We’ve had huge support for our first session; senior representatives from brokers and carriers in the market nominated 16 innovative and energetic people to take part. They joined us at a Think Tank held last week at ACORD, to debate the challenges the market is facing and how digital technology / InsurTech will feature. The results were fascinating. Watch out for the Digital Minds whitepaper in the New Year, which will be published on our website, including a list of next events in 2017. Check out the Twitter hashtag #cscdigitalminds for comments on the Think Tank.

I’m delighted that Digital Minds can work alongside some of the high profile market initiatives focussing on Diversity and Inclusion, such as Inclusion@LLoyd’s, and on Innovation with the London Market TOM Innovation Exchange.  Promoting change throughout the market is crucial to modernisation success. I’m always surprised at how the modernisation message doesn’t always reach the ears of those who need to hear it, so the more people to spread the word, the better.

What are some of the key challenges and obstacles the insurance industry is facing when it comes to the digitisation of their operations?  

Two of the key challenges are around speed and agility. External disruptors don’t need to knock - the door is wide open - and the speed needed to disrupt from within is a challenge for some organisations. Traditionally, the London Market as a whole isn’t accustomed at changing quickly, and a digital market needs a digital platform. We can’t put our head in the sand and avoid the digital economy; it’s here. Personal lines has already seen a change in the way insurance is structured, accessed and offered, and the ripple effects are coming to the Specialty Market. 

The large conglomerates typically found in London are also somewhat uniquely hampered by their legacy systems; it’s not easy to be agile when you’re faced with monolithic systems and processes that have mutated over many mergers and acquisitions. Start-ups aren’t constrained by ‘old ways of doing things’; they have a blank sheet of paper and are taking advantage of digital technology faster than some of the more traditional organisations can.

How do you think the London Market can benefit from digitising their operations?

It’s no secret that London must attract more business to retain its leadership position and remain relevant. Embracing the digital market place enables London to reach beyond the city walls and have a truly global digital footprint. The ability to offer easy access and a smooth process to bring new buyers to our arena is critical.  I'm very excited about the opportunities a digital platform can create for everyone in the market. 

If there is one think you could change in the London Market what would it be?

The market needs to move away from the ‘in-house’ approach and embrace partnerships in order to gain access to ready-made technology, skills and resource; there is no time to waste and this will effect change more quickly. Today’s organisations need to understand their digital intention and align themselves with partners who can help support it.

What’s your hidden talent?

That’s a tricky one. I don’t have any ‘formal’ talents, so I’ll say that my hidden talent is juggling a career, home life and teenagers without crying in the corner. Although some days, it’s not so much a hidden talent as a buried one!

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