Monday, 17 June 2013
Information is king – comment
The interviews and roundtables with risk managers carried out by the Commercial Risk Europe team in recent months have all stressed one key point: information is king in risk management and transfer.
Adrian Ladbury, Editor of Commercial Risk Europe
This is not a shocking revelation of course because we live in an age that is driven by the immediate and worldwide transmission of data.
Key decisions are made, transmitted and acted upon at the bat of an eyelid.
The success or failure of a venture, company or nation can depend upon actions that are prepared, distributed and acted upon in a matter of seconds.
This of course has huge implications for risk and insurance managers.
Not so long ago the job was primarily physical. The success or otherwise of an organisation was dependent upon the creation and distribution of an object.
This process basically involved the most efficient deployment of resources to match supply and demand.
The winners were those who spotted the demand first, worked out how to most efficiently create the product to meet that demand and then get it to market as quickly and cheaply as possible.
This was a relatively simple job when dealing with local markets and control of the whole process was really not that difficult.
The risk management job was basically to ensure that the process worked and that mitigation actions were prepared and acted upon when forces intervened that interrupted the deployment of resources.
The rise of the global, web-based economy has changed all that.
The deployment of resources has become much more complex and stretched and the management of risk is therefore that much more complex. The key tool in managing this risk is information and the winners are those that can acquire it, manipulate it and distribute it in the most efficient manner possible.
The bigger and more geographically spread the company, the more critical this role becomes.
Charlotte Barnekow, Head of Insurance and Risk Management at Ericsson in Sweden, summed it up neatly in the Swedish leg of our annual European Risk Frontiers survey that is published in this issue. She said: “This is what risk management is turning into—you have to be very communicative. In a way it is turning more into a management role than a risk role. It is not just about security and compliance, it is about reasoning based on common sense.”
And the same principles are extended to insurance management and the business of risk transfer.
As production and supply chains become ever more extended and complex, the job of risk identification, assessment and measurement becomes that much more challenging. Insurers and brokers of corporate insurance will be increasingly judged and benchmarked by their ability and willingness to work with their customers to transparently gather and analyse data.
As Juan José Gil Sánchez, the Risks Finance and Corporate Insurance Director at Telefónica, said in the Spanish Risk Frontiers discussion, also published in this issue:
“The support of the broker and even the insurer acting as a consultant is of much help to prepare the information in such a way that it will convince the underwriter to take the risk.”
Mr Gil added that he thinks that insurers and brokers have much of the data the risk managers need in their own files and are failing to liberate that information and thus help meet the needs of their clients.
“We as insurance buyers need this information internally to prepare benchmarks about premiums and losses. It is very clear that insurance companies are losing to brokers the battle to provide this service to their clients. Brokers have been using their databanks to satisfy the needs of their clients by meeting the needs that we have to compare data and statistics,” explained Mr Gil.
Cristina Martínez, Director of Risk Management at Campofrío Food Group, added: “As part of the services provided by insurers, it should be delivered to buyers as a report of losses, including a comparison with market averages, with data not only from the subsidiary that has written the risk, but from the whole insurance group internationally.”
And, as the Spanish, Portuguese and Swedish risk managers pointed out, this enhanced analysis and sharing of data can be invaluable in the field of claims, which is the most important part of the chain after all.
The overall conclusion from all the discussion and debate carried out for both the Global Risk Frontiers survey, which concluded with our recent conference in London, and the first European Risk Frontiers roundtables is that the market really needs to step up its efforts in this regard.
All the key debates in the sector of late, such as global programmes compliance and insurer demands on business interruption and cyber risk, have centred on information—its availability, use and misuse.
And this of course also presents a big opportunity for those insurers, brokers, risk advisers and risk managers that are able to steal a march on the competition and work out how to do this better.