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The value of independent assurance.

Lloyd’s Register understands that the needs of our clients are changing - along with the world of assurance - and that trust is a vital aspect of any partnership.

In a new interview, Paul Butcher talks about our journey as an organisation including our move to the single Lloyd's Register brand and the organisational value of independent assurance

The LRQA brand was recently retired – why?

‘The LRQA brand really reflects the heritage that we have within our Management Systems business. Yes, we began originally as a quality assurance company but in the last few years we’ve really seen an evolution in the breadth of services that we provide to our clients.

Today we help them address issues such as cyber security, food safety, environmental, sustainability and health & safety to name but a few - often underpinned with customised assurance and all far broader in depth than just traditional quality assurance services.

Not only did we want to recognise the brand that we had, but we also wanted to recognise that LR has a far broader capability; yes, we have clients in Marine and Energy but the services that we can offer within our Management Systems business are as relevant

It is also interesting to note that in the last few years ISO - the International Organization for Standardization - have themselves recognised that the world has evolved. A prime example is ISO 9001, which began as a quality management standard and which has been rewritten to really focus on how organisations manage risk in their organisation.

So, for us within Lloyd’s Register, we really wanted to recognise that our world has changed and the world of our clients has changed.

As an organisation we’ve been successful for 258 years by adapting to the changing markets. Moving to adopt the LR brand was a reflection of that evolution in our business.

Where's the value in assurance?

‘For our clients, the value they get from their assurance programmes is threefold.

Firstly, they get access to expertise that they would not normally have within their own organisations. Given the scale and the challenges that our clients have to deal with, they can’t ever have all the experts in their business who know the answers to all the questions they have.

When our clients come to us, it’s for our technical expertise; we have people who are leading experts in their chose sectors and areas of domain and our clients recognise that.  That’s the first value that our clients get from assurance programmes.

I think the second value that clients get is independence, somebody from outside an organisation to look at what they’re doing and to reflect back on their actions and strategy to them with a fresh pair of eyes.  This lets them understand what they are doing well and things that they may be able to do better; our specialists at LR acknowledge where clients are being successful but also recognise the opportunities for improvement.

Linked to this and the third area where I think assurance programmes really deliver value for clients is the insight that we bring - not just based on our knowledge and expertise that we have - but our experience of seeing other organisations and how they operate and what they do well. And that insight allows us to give our clients a sense of how they compete with their competitors or maybe their peers around the world and gives them an idea of the areas where leading organisations are focusing on for improvement; as a result, we can help our clients to do the same.

I think it’s interesting that when I talk with many of our clients, the thing that they’re most interested in is how they can be better, how they can we do more, where are the areas that they could improve. Now yes, they want our technical insight but they want that broader sector specific knowledge that we have from the other organisations that we deal and engage with.

Those three things together means that clients want to engage with LR around their assurance programmes as they trust us to help their businesses effectively become better.

Clients want to engage with LR around their assurance programmes as they trust us to help their businesses effectively become better.

With competitors - both old and new ones - adopting similar strategies, how will LR stand out in a sea of sameness?

‘The key for LR standing out in a world where we have a number of competitors doing similar things to us is going to be through our technical expertise. Our clients come to us in the first instance because they trust us and they recognise that we have some of the best people in the industry who understand things that they maybe don’t understand themselves and they look to us for that technical competence.

So, for me that’s a prerequisite, but it’s not enough; there are other companies who can have technical experts who know how to help our clients. The key is actually turning that knowledge into insight for clients, it’s about listening to them and understanding their problems and then using the knowledge that we have to apply to their situation, to their unique circumstance.

In the world in which we live today, it’s very likely that companies are facing different problems, and new problems and they need quick new insight to help them address their challenges.

For LR, the key is listening, understanding and applying the knowledge that we have and it’s about being flexible to recognise that each company is different.

At LR, we don’t make assumptions that we already know the answer because we’ve seen it before; it really is about listening carefully and applying that to each client’s own situation - that’s what sets us apart from the competition.

You talk a lot about where LR is going but what about where we've come from; does the core assurance certification business still matter?

Where we’ve come from is crucially important; as an organisation that’s nearly 260 years old, we have a lot of history and a lot of heritage to rightly be proud of.

Over many years we’ve helped clients address their challenges and meet their needs and that’s helped them as well as us be successful for the last 258 years and will help us to be successful going forward.

But the reality in that is that many of our clients have bought the same services from us year, after year, after year and they’re really valuable to us and we honour and appreciate them for giving us their business, for trusting us for so many years to help them to meet their core needs.

When we talk about our new services and what’s happening and changing, it could give the impression that the things that have been the constants in our business over the years don’t matter; well core assurance and certification does matter and importantly, will continue to do so.

We have to value the things that have brought us to where we are today, we have to value that the services that clients continue to buy from us and our certification services are core to our offering. They are the things that organisations that choose LR value from us, but our clients also value our ability to adapt and to change, and to move with them as their own businesses change.

So at LR we recognise that there is a balancing act to strike between continuing to deliver the services that are needed today whilst building the new services that will be needed for tomorrow and helping our clients to make exactly the same transition.

We’ve helped clients address their challenges and needs and that’s helped them as well as us be successful for the last 258 years and will help us to be successful going forward.

What is the biggest challenge you see facing professional services firms such as LR today and in the near future?

I think it’s the ability to balance technology with the human element; the reality is our clients come to us today because of the technical expertise that we have, and they trust the knowledge and competence that exists within our people.

But our clients also have a sea of data around them and information and it’s the ability to marry those two together and to bring insight for our clients, it’s what we at LR called ‘smart solutions shaped with human intelligence’. It’s that ability to take data and turn it into insight for clients to help them with the fact that the world in which our clients operate isn’t black and white it’s shades of grey; our ability to help them manage through that is how we really add value for our clients.

Missed the first part of the interview? You can find it here.

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