PPL’s Gordon: Next Gen is “most complex” change project ever executed in the London market

The repeatedly delayed launch of PPL’s “Next Gen” platform will represent a “key moment” in the London market’s transformation program when it goes live next month and can even kick-start momentum in other complicated market change initiatives, according to its new CEO Joe Gordon.

In an exclusive interview with The Insurer TV, the former QBE International COO addresses the challenges the new e-placement platform has had to overcome and its eventual new capabilities. But also says the launch will demonstrate the London market can come together to deliver major modernisation projects despite the ghosts of expensive past failures such as Kinnect and TOM.

Gordon was speaking as PPL made the decision to again delay Next Gen’s arrival, albeit this time only by a few weeks. After replacing CGI with Deloitte, the new Next Gen launch was slated for September 2022.

This was then pushed to what should have been today – 20 February – until an announcement last week that it would now arrive next month (6 March).

“The main reason for the delay is that we are just a couple of weeks short of having a system ready that is sufficiently high quality. The last thing we want to do is release a system to the users that's got bugs in it,” Gordon explains in today’s News in Focus programme.

“I think the market will forgive us for a couple of weeks’ delay but they wouldn't forgive us if the system wasn't ready for use,” he continued.

The new London market system, built by Deloitte after previous tech partner CGI was dropped in 2021, will support the placing lifecycle from quote through to bind.

It will also handle endorsements. Gordon stresses that Next Gen marks a complete overhaul of PPL’s existing “clunky” placing platform, calling the update one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by (re)insurers and syndicates which operate in the shared risk, London subscription market.

“By some distance, this is the most complex and wide ranging, challenging technology project that's ever actually been executed in the London market, certainly in the last 10 years, nothing else has even come close,” he said.

“This is going from one technology to another and it's really large scale; 90 percent of the London market's insurance placements go through this platform.”

With 20,000 users across 400 firms, PPL already has over 200,000 risks on its system and processes over two million individual bind transactions each year. Gordon said PPL will now work to move these users to adopt the new system by the end of this year.

Blueprint Two alignment

Gordon says the launch of Next Gen represents a “key moment” for PPL but also for the wider London market and the Lloyd’s modernisation agenda.

“It's a key moment for the London market,” he explains. “We just are on the cusp of beginning to make some real progress with the modernisation programme, and Blueprint Two, and all the things that we all spend so much time talking about.”

Crucially, Next Gen will act as “springboard for the future”, Gordon predicts, with work already underway on developing a roadmap for aligning PPL with the £300mn “Future at Lloyd’s” Blueprint Two initiative and the work of the Data Council.

This will include how the system captures the data fields set out in the recently published core data record and align data structures and standards with the updated market reform contract so brokers and carriers only have to invest in system changes once to prepare data.

“Most importantly, I would say that it's a springboard for the future. What it will allow us to do is introduce new services and features. Necessarily, the initial roll-out is somewhat similar to what's there today, precisely because we need to be able to facilitate without having to have a revolution in how people work,” he said, highlighting the “almost limitless opportunity” arising from the platform.

The Blueprint Two/Future at Lloyd’s initiative has itself attracted criticism because of its expense, modest progress and much reduced scope in contrast to the bold vision of a transformed digitalised Lloyd’s that CEO John Neal unveiled in 2019.

But Gordon concludes with an upbeat note for both PPL and the London market.

“Building Blueprint Two is a formidable challenge for us all, for the whole market. But at least the problem of how we get data into Blueprint Two is made easier by the fact that PPL essentially will have most of the data that the market wants from day one. And we're working with the market to get from ‘most’ to ‘all’,” he said.

Watch the complete 20-minute News in Focus interview for details on what enhancements the market can expect from PPL later this year, what benefits the platform will bring, and Gordon's thoughts on whether the Lloyd’s modernisation agenda is moving at the pace needed to really action change.