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Lloyds redefines tech role as developer of standards


LONDON—It's been more than a year since Lloyd's of London decided to pull the plug on its Kinnect Internet-based risk data platform, but the effort to promote electronic information exchange continues to move forward in the London market.

When Lloyd's Franchise Board announced in January 2006 that it would cease funding the Kinnect effort, which began life in 2003 as Project Blue Mountain, the board said it saw the market's role going forward as being involved in setting standards rather than in developing infrastructure.

A recent move, then, seems clearly in keeping with that view.

Last month, Lloyd's announced that Michael Smith, manager business process reform (claims and standards), was being transferred from Lloyd's to ACORD to support the Assn. for Cooperative Operations Research and Development's London market standards activities.

Mr. Smith is well acquainted with ACORD's efforts. Prior to his transfer, he chaired the organization's Reinsurance and Large Commercial Technical Steering Committee.

According to Pearl River, N.Y.-based ACORD, which opened a London office in 2001, Mr. Smith has spent the past seven years working on the London-market reform program, focusing on claims processes and accounting and settlement. He's also worked with the electronic standards-setting body to shape and improve the data standards, messages and communication technology that form the basis for London-market business process improvement.

Mr. Smith's 22-year career at Lloyd's has involved all aspects of business and information technology projects supporting the insurance business, including the introduction of the Lloyd's Claims Scheme.

He also was involved in early experiments with electronic claim files, the introduction of electronic data interchange messages for claims advice, and managing an IT department responsible for supporting and developing the central accounting and claims office support and agreement systems. His earlier career included working for various technology companies.

When Lloyd's announced it was ending the Kinnect effort, the franchise board said, "Lloyd's will continue to work with the market in support of electronic trading. It will provide support in developing standards for peer-to-peer systems and hubs."

Clearly, that standard setting remains very much on Lloyd's agenda.

ACORD, meanwhile, has become increasingly active in promoting electronic exchange in the London market. In February, the organization announced the opening of a new testing and certification facility. Using the new facility, ACORD members can test implementations and certify messages for ACORD Document Repository Interface standard adoption.

London-market developers can send ACORD messages to the new facility, which can validate them and send return messages indicating acceptance or errors, streamlining the process, according to ACORD, and increasing certifications and improving communications among business partners.

The ultimate goal of ACORD's new testing facility, as with the organization's other London market initiatives, is to increase efficiency in the market, reduce transaction costs and increase information connectivity between partners in the marketplace.