The Mouse that Roared

A man was struggling in the woods to saw down a tree.

An old farmer came by, watched for a while, then quietly said, “What are you doing?”

“Can’t you see?” the man impatiently replied, “I’m sawing down this tree.”

“You look exhausted,” said the farmer. “How long have you been at it?”

“Over five hours, and I’m beat,” replied the man. “This is hard work.”

“That saw looks pretty dull,” said the farmer. “Why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen it? I’m sure it would go a lot faster.”

“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”

I would imagine this old story rings true for many Lloyd’s brokers but one of their number has found the time to improve their performance.

Croton Stokes Wilson is not the largest Lloyd’s Broking house in the London market but they are leading most of their competitors when it comes to office automation and forward thinking.

Just over a year ago, they launched a project to automate the generation of their Quotes, Market Reform Contracts (Slips), Client Documents, Endorsements and Debit Notes. As the new Market Reform guidelines were announced, CSW took the opportunity to give their whole document creation and distribution methods an overhaul. They spent time and money transfering their market knowledge in to systems that have already returned their investment.

How is it that a small company can make such a radical change on a limited budget when larger players struggle to adapt?

Choosing the right technology is important (and I’m biased in this regard) but there are other things that need to come together to create a successful project.

  • Do not be over ambitious – set clear, achievable goals;
  • Appoint a Champion – find someone who cares enough to see it through and has the business knowledge to contribute;
  • Launch and Learn – don’t wait for all the “bells and whistles”, make it real as soon as possible then users take notice;
  • Answer the “what’s in it for me” question for all the key players whether they are internal, or external to your company

CSW have a flexible mechanism for creating all their business documents and can now build on that foundation. Their next phases will be:

  • Creation of a database to report on the data they capture during the creation of their documents
  • Bordereaux and management reports will be automated
  • Establishment of a document repository for internal use
  • Extending this to provide Underwriter access
  • Extending further to link to their US Agents

After that, if they want to, they can easily progress to an element of eTrading and distribute XML messages to their trading partners.

One of the smallest brokers in the London Market has been able to achieve this on a shoestring budget.

It does beg the question – if they can do it, why can’t everyone else?

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