Degree: Holds degrees in math and chemistry from the University of Leeds and a masters of business administration from City University in London
Car: 1985 Mercedes 380 SL Convertible
Stress reliever: Reading, cooking Southeast Asian food and playing computer games against his 10-year-old daughter — even though he usually loses
While it takes up only a tiny corner of the massive modern building that houses the venerable Lloyds of London, Lloyds.com hopes to use this respected brand to reach insurance underwriters and brokers around the world. Lloyds of London is an insurance marketplace that links insurance professionals to brokers and underwriters offering a wide range of specialty coverage, from insurance for a food critics taste buds to protection against kidnappers. Launched in March, Lloyds.com aims to expand the Lloyds marketplace by providing a search service that helps insurance professionals locate those providing the coverage they need in their country. It also enables users to conduct some insurance transactions online. Ashok Gupta was hired in April, after helping to launch the popular British property portal, Asserta Home. Gupta spoke with International Editor Juliana Gruenwald.
Why did Lloyds of London feel the need to launch a special portal, separate from its corporate site?
If you have never dealt with Lloyds before, it can be quite impenetrable. You really dont know where to start. Lloyds recognizes that as an opportunity . . . The whole idea of the current version of the Lloyds.com business site is to help people, insurance professionals from all over the world with specialist problems, to get access to Lloyds. What we really want to do is, over time, make the business of transacting insurance through Lloyds market a lot more efficient for brokers, whether they are retail brokers, wholesale brokers, Lloyds brokers or Lloyds underwriters.
What have been some of the hurdles youve faced?
Well the biggest hurdle we have faced is overcoming all the regulatory hurdles. To do this, we really have to understand the regulations in all the countries, particularly the 10 [in which] we are directly marketing, and [the 50 U.S. states]. We rejected a lot of countries in terms of saying it would just be too difficult to overcome those [regulatory hurdles], and we have to make sure that were clear in all the other countries. A massive amount of work [has] gone into overcoming regulatory hurdles.
Whats in store for the future?
All the feedback we have been getting from our customers is, "We like what you have done, and we want you to move further into helping us make the transactions more efficient," in terms of saying the whole process of transacting insurance can be quite cumbersome and inefficient. Theres lots of things, like, for example, just basic capturing data and transferring data so it doesnt have to be rekeyed in every single time, so you can make amendments simply and easily.
You launched just as a lot of dot-coms were crashing. What makes you think this will be successful?
I would not call us a dot-com, because what this is doing is taking a proposition that is proven and works extremely well . . . and using the Internet to basically expand and develop that business. So we are really using the Internet as a distribution channel.