Friday, 17 February 2012
The education of risk managers for the future is one of the priorities of Association pour le Management des Risques et de l’Assurance des Entreprises, AMRAE, France’s risk management association, and it is offering a busy calendar of courses and certifications for 2012. CRE’s French correspondent Rodrigo Amaral spoke to AMRAE, risk managers and recruitment experts about how the French believe risk education will play a vital role in the future of the profession and the individuals who work within it.
FRENCH RISK MANAGEMENT association AMRAE has, over the years, devised a number of alternatives for professionals who want to enhance their knowledge about the subject of risk management or have a first taste of a career that is increasingly making inroads within organisations.
And the interest has been such that attendance of the courses has not been restricted to people who already work in risk management departments.
“Our risk management certificate, CEFAR, has become so famous that we have had in some of our training sessions staff from brokers or insurance companies, as well as internal auditors and other professionals,” Gilbert Canameras, the President of AMRAE, told Commercial Risk Europe.
CEFAR—Stratégie de gestions des risques, as the certificate is formally called—is the top shelf training initiative offered by AMRAE.
It is composed of 10 intensive days of work on subjects that are directly linked to the daily job of risk managers.
The general aim of the course is to provide participants with tools to make strategic decisions to the benefit of their companies.
The course includes presentations by top risk management practitioners in France and has the support of Ernst & Young, the consultancy firm.
CEFAR is targeted at risk managers who already have considerable experience on the job, and participants receive a certificate if they are successful through the evaluation tests carried out at the end of the course.
Themes to be discussed in 2012 include risk environment, risk analysis, financing of risks and communication—subjects are updated every year according to the development of the market.
The next round of courses, with a maximum quorum of 15 students, will start in March 2012, and the cost is €6,000.
Another training course, Associate in Risk Management, ARM, is offered jointly by AMRAE and the CARM Institute, a well-known risk management research centre in France.
The ARM also targets heads of risk management departments and other experienced professionals and is based on the body of knowledge accumulated over three decades by the Insurance Institute of America, according to AMRAE.
The association claims that ARM has become a recognised mark of excellence in risk management both in France and Europe.
More than 500 professionals have completed the formation in France and Switzerland, and the next two batches of courses will start in January and June 2012.
ARM will be organised this year in three modules under the themes ‘Risk Diagnosis’, ‘Risk Reduction’ and ‘Risk Financing’. The first two modules have a workload of 110 hours, spread around 12 days, and 100 hours in 11 days in the case of the third one. Classes are restricted to 15 participants and costs range between €6,900 and €7,070 per module.
Another course helps participants to receive an ERM certificate and has the goal, among others, to help participants to make a convincing case for an ERM project with the top echelons of their firms.
In 2012, the three-day course will take place in a palatial mansion near Fontainebleau in the second half of September, and the students will be submitted to tests in March 2013 before they can hang their certificates on the wall.
The cost for the 2012 edition of the ERM certificate is €4100.
AMRAE also organises in-house courses for companies that want to strengthen their risk management capabilities, under the direction of Bénédicte Huot de Luze, the association’s scientific director.
A whole range of short thematic sessions are organised all over the year to keep members abreast of the latest market developments that can affect their daily jobs. These are linked to a series of initiatives that are necessary to help French risk managers face a business environment that changes by the day.
The training of risk managers has come to the fore as the demand for qualified professionals is on the rise. But at the same time it remains difficult to clearly define their jobs and attributes and to find the most suitable candidates to fill the vacancies, say experts.
Industry insiders say that this is an issue that needs to be tackled with some urgency, not the least because sometimes companies still find it hard to fill vacancies with professionals who bear the required skills and qualifications.
“A whole educational work still needs to be done concerning the position and the importance of risk managers in large and medium companies,” argues Sidonie Couture, a senior manager at headhunting firm Robert Half in Paris.
She told CRE that potential candidates need to be aware of the value that risk managers can add to their companies and the scope of their activities.
She also argued that the universe of candidates is restricted at present, and that is why, for example, there are so many brokers who move on to risk management departments at companies, and conversely risk managers that are hired by brokers.
“There are companies that have become really aware of the importance of risk management, competition for talent between them is real,” Ms Couture pointed out.
Tapping qualified staff from insurers, brokers or other entities in the insurance industry is certainly often the choice taken by French companies when hiring adequate candidates.
“People coming from insurance are maybe more prepared to deal with concepts like risk mapping, the allocation of risks and so on,” argued Mr Canameras.
But he also says that looking for staff with the skills sought by the risk management department within the ranks of the firm can frequently prove to be the best option.
But this will only work if these individuals can complement their technical knowledge with the ability to understand the intricacies of the insurance market.
Individuals also have to show skills that are much demanded today from risk managers such as communication and leadership.
“We need people involved in the businesses of our companies and with a deep knowledge of the activities we perform,” Mr Canameras remarked. “And they need to be able to transmit the knowledge of risks to the adequate people in our companies.”
Which is where training becomes so important.
Headhunters that recently participated in an AMRAE roundtable in Paris on the subject of hiring top level risk managers noted that this is a job that graduates do not learn at university, which makes the task of identifying talents particularly challenging.
They also said that boards are showing more interest in the people who will manage their companies’ risk, but at the same time human resources departments often do not know the characteristics of the job.
Once the career becomes more widely known, however, this task should become a little easier to perform.
For instance, Frédéric Lucas, AMRAE’s secretary general and the man responsible for the association’s training programme, argues that there is no reason why, once they receive more information, graduates would not be interested in pursuing the path of risk management.
“Managing risks is an attractive work, as you are never doing the same things,” he told CRE. “The question is, how can you become a risk manager in your company? Young people should be able to identify how to be a risk manager and what will be the future of risk management.”
Another thing that prospective risk managers should be able to understand is that the job requires experience and a thorough understanding of their companies, so it is possibly not the best option for those seeking meteoric rises.
“You cannot get out of school and after three or four years become a risk manager,” he said. “First you have to work in supporting activities, otherwise you won’t have the credibility to gain the attention of the CFO or other top officials.”
Mr Lucas added: “If you have not spent enough time in the company, you do not have a deep enough knowledge to solve problems. Because, when you identify an issue, you should be able to propose a solution for it.”
A bit of training might help ambitious young risk managers at French and other European companies to accelerate this process. They could do much worse than taking a good look at AMRAE’s comprehensive offering of courses.