Monday, 20 May 2013
The time is right–comment
Last month saw an excellent RIMS conference and easily the best that this observer has attended in over 20 years of reporting on this market.
It was a good one for two simple and related reasons. First, the fact that the US risk management profession has recognised that there is a world outside of North America that matters is a major step forward for the US and international risk community.
Second, the fact that RIMS has clearly recognised that risk management is not just about insurance management but much wider than that is an equally large step.
The international flavour of the event was quite a revelation.
I have not been to a RIMS conference for three years to be fair and perhaps this has been a rising trend between Orlando and LA.
But it was great to find myself listening and taking part in some excellent discussions about the future of the profession with risk managers from the US, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
There has always been a decent attendance of risk managers from around the world at RIMS of course, as so many European companies in particular have operations in the US and so use the event as an excuse to catch up with contacts and latest trends.
The event always acts as a meeting point for the members of the International Federation of Risk and Insurance Management Associations (Ifrima) and so presents a great opportunity to meet up with leading risk managers from around the globe.
But I have to say that weeks spent at RIMS conferences in the past have involved a heroic effort to find something interesting to report from sessions on slips, trips and falls in the mid west retail sector or horrendously complicated debates about the future of healthcare insurance in Wisconsin.
Not so this time. Myself, deputy editor Ben Norris and reporter Rodrigo Amaral found more than enough sessions on international topics and enterprise risk management to fill our notebooks and Rodrigo probably met more Latin American risk managers at RIMS this year than he did at ALARYS towards the end of last year!
Great material was gathered for our ongoing Global Risk Frontiers survey that is nearing its conclusion at the big event in London on 22 May on big topics such as the future direction of risk education and how to gain board level buy-in to risk management and embed it throughout the organisation.
For me the most interesting topic was the future of risk education that was discussed at a number of sessions during the three days in Los Angeles.
There is clearly a desire on the part of the US risk management community to join in with risk professionals from around the world in some kind of collaborative effort to seriously raise the bar for risk professionals.
The end game is to establish the risk management profession as one to be taken seriously at boardroom level and able to rub shoulders comfortably with peers in the legal, accounting and audit professions.
Everyone seems to agree that the only way to achieve this is to somehow come up with a highly regarded and globally transportable set of qualifications, accreditation or mix of the two that truly challenges individual risk managers and gives the community the recognition that it so craves.
The big question is how to do this. This is a tricky one because risk management qualifications and accreditation systems are developing around the world under different guises and by different bodies. The International Standards Organisation (ISO) offers a form of international credibility but unfortunately also offers much room for disagreement between risk professionals, particularly as its architects do not appear to include many practitioners.
The danger is that if the representative bodies of the global risk management profession cannot agree some basic principles such as a fundamental definition of risk management, whether it includes insurance management and the like, to at least make a start then other interested professions such as the auditors and actuaries may well steal the show.
It was for this reason that I took the microphone during a fascinating debate on international risk management trends and challenged the representatives of Ferma, RIMS and PARIMA (the new Pan Asian Risk and Insurance Management Association headed up by Franck Baron) to get on with it.
The response was positive and Ferma’s Jorge Luzzi did say that the topic was on the agenda for the Ifrima board meeting. He for one is committed to this goal and it seems inevitable that both Julia Graham and Michel Dennery of Ferma will ensure that whatever they announce at Maastricht in October will have an international angle and leave the ‘passport’ door open.
Both Franck Baron and Cristiane Alves, President of the Brazilian association AGBR and a leading member of the Latin American group ALARYS, are also behind the concept which is promising.
The South Africans have not committed either way but I am sure that IRMSA, which is spreading its tentacles wider into Sub Saharan Africa, would be willing and able to adapt the excellent progress it has recently made on risk education to an international effort. Recent meetings with leading risk managers in the Middle East suggest that they would also be willing to play ball.
So that really potentially means that the success or otherwise of this nascent project depends upon the willingness of the North Americans to build on their recently expanded global perspective and horizons and take part in a truly collaborative manner.
Recent experience in other areas such as insurance solvency reform and accounting standards suggests that this may not be an easy nut to crack. But at least the noises at RIMS were positive and it will be interesting to hear the result of the Ifrima meeting. Hopefully we can report something positive next month and in our weekly newsletter. Watch this space!