Thursday, 5 April 2012
Countdown to the Olympics-comment
The Olympics is a wonderful event that brings the whole world together in a spirit of friendly competition and unity in the common pursuit of excellence.
Adrian Ladbury, Editor of Commercial Risk Europe
Thankfully nothing has gone seriously wrong with the event since the cold war wrecked the 1980 Games in Moscow and of course terrorism invaded the Munich games of 1972. But looking at it through the eyes of a risk manager it must appear to be a potentially horrific exercise because so many things could go wrong and wreck the party.
Not surprisingly the UK government and officials involved in the organisation of the Games have focused upon the big risks, mainly the potential for terrorist attack, both physical and cyber.
This is not surprising given the UK’s continued involvement and leading role in the world’s trouble spots and attacks on London in recent times.
If you wanted to select a capital city designed to deliver the maximum effect for terrorist activity during the Games then London surely would have come second only to a major city in the US.
But look below the headlines for a moment and one can spot a lot of less dramatic risks that face normal small and medium-sized businesses.
As highlighted in the front page news story on this topic there are very basic risks faced by businesses of all sizes during the Olympics such as how to get your staff to work and if they can’t make it how do you make sure they can work from home?
It seems that these ‘minor’ matters have been overlooked as the country prepares for the biggest sporting event ever.
But they are of course not minor matters for the small and medium-sized businesses that have to cope with these problems as the world watches and enjoys the event from afar.
At a time of seriously tough economic circumstances when cashflow is king and goods and services have to be delivered on time exactly as they have been ordered this is potentially a big problem.
Yes, London as a brand may benefit hugely from a successful Games that all goes superbly well without any major incidents and disruptions.
But if the travel chaos and internet capacity crunch that many fear could occur and will not necessarily be picked up by the world’s TV screens does happen, then the cost could be huge for those who are ill-prepared for the consequences of the event.
In this issue we run a series of Hot Seat interviews with leading corporate insurance executives who are keen to expand their business by selling the benefits of proper risk management and transfer to small and medium-sized businesses.
AMRAE, the French risk management association, has set itself the laudable target of doing just the same thing.
This actually makes a lot of sense and surely the professional risk management community that comprises Commercial Risk Europe’s readership and Ferma members across Europe need to think a little harder about this and take it seriously.
It is all very well making sure that the biggest companies are able to expand to ever wider markets in far-flung territories and to secure the most cost-effective and efficient methods of transferring that risk to the insurance market.
But if, in the meantime, governments, regulators and big business forget about the smaller businesses back home and leave them to fend for themselves without the adequate tools and skills needed to manage the risk imported from the global economy, or in this case global sporting event, then little will have been achieved.
The spine upon which all big businesses rely is the small and medium-sized operation back home that maintains the fundamental flow of revenue and social cohesion required to support the staff that underpin the operation.
If these companies are not even aware of the risks that they need to think about, let alone shown how to do it by peers, then surely it is up to the ‘professionals’ to show them how to do it.
This is exactly where national associations can really play a big role and if other associations in Europe want to follow AMRAE’s lead then CRE would be delighted to support them in any way possible.