"We wanted to replace our legacy product with a reliable alternative that had a minimum of five years' life expectancy," says Ian Wootten, Manager of Settlement and Trust Fund Operations at Lloyd's.
Lloyd's initially considered having an application written on its IBM mainframe computer before going with WebFocus, a real-time reporting application from Information Builders. Lloyd's wanted a scalable technology that offered data integration and reporting capabilities beyond what its previous system offered. At the same time, it was important that the technology -- which would also be used to maintain a transactional database -- integrate well with the company's existing architecture, which includes Windows XP operating system and a Windows 2000 file server.
Ironing out compatibility and upgrading Lloyd's existing code was a pretty straightforward process, says Wootten. The testing process to make sure that controls were in place and to check for vulnerability took three to four weeks before the application was deployed company-wide.
Lloyd's will write insurance premiums worth more than 13.7 billion pounds sterling this year. Sixty-two syndicates underwrite its insurance, and its customers are spread out over more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Given the sheer size of those numbers -- not to mention the internal processes needed in order to manage them -- the need for real-time data at Lloyd's is crucial.
"We're processing money on behalf of our clients. We can't afford to have downtime," says Wootten. This means information needs to be both accessible and up-to-date. WebFocus does not operate by batching data like some reporting tools, which can result in the data being up to 24 hours old. Users at Lloyd's can access real-time information through a simple browser interface. The bottom line: no lag time that could have a negative impact on time sensitive transactions.
Employees at Lloyd's need to manage and report on data, but they also need to be able to transmit data to banks and other companies within Lloyd's market. Reliable data integration into a reporting technology is essential. With that said, banks have specific requirements on how to transmit information regarding claims and other transactions. To ensure that data transmissions are accurate, users at Lloyd's employ WebFocus to run control reports and generate files that are automatically loaded into various banks' systems.
Settlement and trust fund operations are vital to Lloyd's continued success in the insurance specialist market. Premium and claims movements occur every day between authorized players in Lloyd's insurance market. In the past, numerous money movements would be made to or from a single account on any given day. This process has been streamlined, and through what is called "central settlement," transactions are netted, or batched, so that only one money movement is made in or out of an account each day.
Lloyd's settles its transactions in eight separate currencies, and it is important for its brokers to have control over the files they download, says Wootten. "We have to make sure they are intact," he adds. Brokers also need to reconcile each separate currency transaction at the close of each day. Now they can determine which files have or have not been properly reconciled. In addition, a master file reconciliation using WebFocus ensures that all transactions across various currencies have been settled.
According to Wootten, overall process speed has increased since the deployment. For example, a piece of code that used to take 15 minutes to process now takes four. And brokers have more flexibility with data. They can get different views on claims and change data to suit a specific function, he says.