Lloyd’s undertook a partial reopening of its One Lime Street building yesterday with praise from brokers and demonstrations from climate activists.
New social distancing measures in communal facilities and a much reduced number of staff signalled the return to the underwriting room but staff were faced with demonstrators from Insure Our Future. Armed with placards the protestors were campaigning against Lloyd’s syndicates’ support for a number of controversial energy programmes.
Lloyd’s issued a statement to highlight the fact that whilst they were keen to play a role in the industry’s fight against climate change, they could not interfere with the syndicates underwriting operations unless there was a regulatory imperative to do so.
However the CEO of brokers’ association LIIBA, Chris Croft (pic below) welcomed the return to the ability to transact business face to face.
“The re-opening of the Lloyd’s underwriting room today marks the start of a gradual return to face-to-face trading in the London market. Brokers have adapted swiftly and have been conducting business in a variety of ways to suit their clients’ needs, as well as increasing their use of electronic platforms. Since March’s lockdown in the UK, the market has continued to support its clients — and, in fact, dealt with a sharply increased level of business — but things have also fundamentally changed.”
Mr Croft said that the benefits of the London market continued to rely on physical movement around EC3.
“What makes London a marketplace is about so much more than just the act of placing a risk or paying a claim. The tacit knowledge exchange that comes from being together is crucial to that ability to trade risks the rest of the world can’t . That does require co-presence and the serendipity of encountering the right person at the right time, so the opportunity to do that at Lloyd’s again is very welcome.”
One broker told emerg-in: “It was an extremely quiet start to life back in the underwriting room. It was good to be back in the building but it was a very different room to the one we left.
“There is more use of technology now, but there is still a need for face to face negotiation. It was good to be back.”