When it comes to process efficiencies, the London market and technology have often been awkward bedfellows.
One notable exception, however, is the Acord system of data standards – an eminently sensible pan-industry initiative which makes it easier for insurers (and brokers) to communicate information digitally to each other by standardising certain data sets.
For the London subscription market – which typically involves multiple insurers following a lead – it has become an essential requirement of the back office.
Roy Laker, who sadly passed away last week, was the man responsible for bringing Acord to London.
Laker was headhunted in 2000 by Greg Maciag, CEO at global insurance standards body Acord, to lead its expansion in the UK.
Success soon followed. Under Laker’s leadership Acord in the UK became the preeminent standard-setting body. He also helped pioneer Acord’s Ruschlikon Initiative, which enabled leading players of the (re)insurance industry to improve their back-office processes for technical accounting, claims and settlement.
Market participants still remember fondly the monthly Acord meetings held at its Minster Court headquarters, which were informative, tinged with much humour, friendship and networking, often over the lunch which followed.
Laker stayed with Acord until his retirement in 2014.
His passion for technology and reputation as an early market innovator was established long before his time at Acord. In the 1980s he had worked for various insurance software companies supplying solutions to London brokers and he later joined the Lloyd’s Insurance Brokers’ Committee (LIBC), which at the time represented brokers in the London insurance market.
It was at the LIBC that Laker worked with Mike Anstee at a time when several new technologies such as EDI and also IBM’s managed network services for electronic distribution of computer messages were evolving. Together the duo were successful in encouraging London brokers to adopt the changes.
Laker later became a well-known and welcome speaker at market conferences and also helped promote other market technology initiatives, particularly at PSAC which was at the forefront of change.
He will be sadly missed.