2023 has been a landmark year for PoloWorks, the Lloyd’s and London Market insurance services provider comprising of two divisions — Polo Managing Agency (PMA) and Polo Commercial Insurance Services (PCIS) – with longstanding insurance executive Paul Andrews joining PoloWorks and PMA as CEO while PCIS found a new CEO in Richard Lawson.
In June, the combined PoloWorks operations celebrated its 18% year-on-year staff headcount increase with the move to a bigger office in Cheltenham. Continuing a “sprint of a year”, in September the provider launched a new digital marketing offering – Polo Digital – aimed at supporting the digitisation of the London insurance market amid the rollout of the Lloyd’s of London transformation programme, Blueprint 2. Speaking with Insurance Business, Andrews (pictured) noted that the year got off to a flying start with Lloyd’s throwing open its doors to new opportunities.
“As soon as I arrived in February, it became clear that Lloyd’s were pushing for growth and new opportunities were beginning to appear,” he said. “In the Lloyd’s division, we’ve had a really busy year. What was a moderate pipeline has turned into a steady stream of entities considering entry to Lloyd’s. Where we were getting one inquiry a month at the beginning of the year, we’re probably close to one a week at the moment, which has been really positive to see.
“I think previously there was a bit of a question mark about who we are, but the work we’ve been doing this year to talk about our Lloyd’s division – PMA - and what it does, has started to gain recognition across the market. Everyone across the team has worked really hard and we’re finishing this year ahead of plan with more Syndicates under management than at any previous point in the agency’s history. It’s the best performance the business has potentially ever experienced, and we’ve got a great pipeline for next year.”
With early conversations already in play for 2024, it’s clear that appetite for the PoloWorks digital proposition is not dying down, Andrews said, particularly as the market turns its focus on Lloyd’s as an area for growth.
Looking at the other arm of the business, he noted that PCIS is already a significant player in the outsourcing market for Lloyd’s managing agencies. Boasting several high-quality, well-known clients, it’s often a surprise to the market how much work the business does with these entities and how involved it is with their day-to-day operations. 2023 has been a busy year for that business too, he said, with Blueprint 2 knocking on everyone’s door and demanding that organisations change how they think and rethink their data integration services.
Andrews noted that at the heart of PoloWorks’ ambitious growth strategy is the foundation put in place by having a highly skilled and experienced team. It’s the 320-plus team members based in Cheltenham providing back-office and middle-office support to the circa 40% of the market which makes the PoloWorks proposition possible, he said, because, for a growing business, one of the hardest things to do is attract and retain great talent.
“Because of our team, we can stand up the resources our clients need from day one,” he said. “We can support them through every step of their journey – whether that’s one month, one year or two years. As a managing agency, we have access to all the technical ability you need in-house in London and in our services powerhouse in Cheltenham.
“Our story is that if you come to us, we make sure that you get a great service, state-of-the-art systems and great quality resources, We are also a project management lead business as we understand that our clients need to see and understand the roadmap they are on as we “Stand Up” their vehicle or supporting services.”
But it’s not just about best-in-class systems and quality services, he said, the final piece of the firm’s digital strategy is currently coming to fruition as it aims to ensure its clients become early adopters of AI driven data management.
“Polo Digital combines AI risk capture, robotic processes and API integration,” he said. “Whether you need to integrate with a third party or you’re leveraging your own tech, Polo Digital is our answer to managed integration with the potential of Blueprint Two and is a solution for our managed Syndicates, services clients and broking market partners looking for a digitised data capture solution.
PoloWorks is a proudly modern proposition for a digital market, Andrews said, and he believes the combination and benefits of the digitisation of its clients’ services, with the benefits of a solid DXC platform - all backed by experienced individuals committed to providing a good service - is exactly what the market needs. Looking to 2024, he highlighted that the business is looking to add another three Syndicates over the next year.
“In 2023, we invested heavily in people, process and systems,” he said. “Algorithmic underwriting, predictive and generative AI is here to stay and we will continue to take stock of PoloWorks’ capabilities and direction of travel to ensure we stay aligned with the requirements of our clients’ current and future support requirements. For 2024, international travel is also on the agenda as PMA looks to go overseas and start spreading the word about its proposition across the international insurtech market.
“The insurtech space is one we want to mine because I think it’s where our skills lie. If you look at the three pillars of our business – Polo Digital, PCIS and PMA – we’ve got pretty much whatever you need, whether it’s access to the market, people to support your business, or modern technology that allows you to thrive. We want to start getting that message out there, about why we’re different and about the route we’re taking… We’re not slowing down. I can honestly say this year has just flown by and our organisation is seeing the benefits of that already, there’s a lot going on - there’s certainly never a dull day.”