Today FERMA has 22 members from 20 countries across Europe. Some have started within the last 10 years, and a few are older than FERMA. As part of FERMA’s 40th anniversary celebrations, we asked their presidents to reflect on their challenges and their objectives and summon up their best memories.
Gaëtan Lefèvre, President of Belgium’s BELRIM, sums up the view of many. “Recognition of the added value of risk and insurance management is one of the big challenges. Certification is one answer, and we need to continue to push for and protect our jobs.”
Alexander Mahnke, President of Germany’s DVS, sees three linked challenges.
One is to communication the value of insurance and financial management of insurable risk. “How do we make sure that people around us who are not insurance experts are clear what we are doing? We have to use the right vocabulary.”
A second is to make sure that risk managers are part of the risk management value chain when some colleagues with responsibility for insurance in their groups may not be considered as more than the insurance procurement department. An increase in professionalism will help to secure the risk manager’s standing.
Finally, he highlights the HR aspect. “Where are we going to get the next generation of risk managers? We need to show them that what we do is relevant and very interesting and can be an attractive career path.”
“What are the biggest challenges for risk management in Malta today? The change in the culture from reactive to proactive….” is the comment from Simon Grima, President of Malta’s MARM “Risk management is still viewed as another regulatory burden. Also, these functions are being carried out by other professions such as the accountants or lawyers who are reactive in nature and tend to look at problems within their own disciplines. The risk management function is a proactive function. It will remain an unknown and not understood profession until a type of professional warrant is designed and awarded.”
Maja Šušteršič, President of Sl. Risk, says, “Enterprise risk management will need to move further in its evolution to strategic risk management, where management of risks directly adds value to strategic planning and the achievement of the strategic objectives. That way we would also emphasise the difference between managing risks strategically and operationally.”
“We are trying to influence the risk management culture in Finland, which varies a lot between companies,” explains Tapio Huovinen, President of FinnRima. “Some people are called risk managers when they are really insurance or insurance and hazard managers. We are also trying to influence board level understanding of enterprise risk management (ERM). This is one of the reasons we have picked up ISO 31000; it makes it much easier to explain ERM to board members.”
This list of goals for risk managers comes from Gilbert Canameras, President of France’s AMRAE:
- Be more visible in companies’ organisations;
- Find the good and more efficient way to work with those brokers who are the “best friends” of risk managers;
- Become one of the main decision makers for strategic development of the company.
Helen Pope, Chair of Airmic, picks up on FERMA’s current diversity theme: “We need a broader cross-section of people generally coming into the business. There is an external perception that the industry is not changing. We need visibility for role models so people see that it is changing.”
According to DARIM’s President Charlotte Enggaard, the challenge is also the opportunity, “The term ‘risk management’ is becoming a part of our vocabulary, which is a very positive trend,” she says. “However, we also need to make sure that we capture the benefits and the best practices to ensure that ‘risk management’ is serving the purpose of adding value to the business and shareholders.
Helen Pope became the Chair of Airmic in June 2014, yet the few months that followed have been eventful. “We have had the developing situations in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq; the outbreak of Ebola virus in some African countries and the threat of another Icelandic volcano eruption.”
Hans-Jörg Schill, President of Germany’s BfV, says the most important external events during his time have been:
- The Arab spring which affected terrorism and political risk insurance;
- The meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 affected attitudes toward nuclear power and highlighted the risks of non-damage business interruption.
- Revelations by former US security officer Edward Snowdon made the world rethink cyber security.
- The Euro crisis of 2012-3 affected the supply of credit insurance for the euro-zone.
The financial crisis was the key event for Portugal, says José-Manuel da Fonseca, President of APOGERIS. “The crisis has had a strong impact. It was not the best environment for insurance or risk management. Companies seized the opportunity to cut costs. It was not easy for risk management because we need to spend money on consultancy or protection, for example. Things are getting better in 2014, and it looks like we are turning the corner.”
However, the financial crisis also helped to draw risk managers together, comments NARIM President Annemarie Schouw. “The risk management function can be a rather lonely job. We saw more and more members attending meetings and our annual event. We see there is a need to discuss what is going on and the changes that are taking place.” As a result, she says, “NARIM is more and more a force to be recognised.”
According to IGREA President Daniel San Millan Del Rio, the European issues most affecting Spain are professional certification, captive regulation under Solvency II, other EU regulations such as environmental liability, the geopolitical situation in eastern Europe and the growth of southern EU countries. He adds that managing the huge and incredibly rapid internationalisation of Spanish multinational companies is a major risk management challenge today.
“Slovenia is affected by any EU regulations from a business and risk perspective,” says Sl. Risk President Maja Šušteršič. “When something changes, we have to check what this means for our businesses and for company law. This is particularly important for environmental issues and anything which can affect the financial markets, since financial risks are really on top here. We are also concerned about the reporting of non-financial risks, collective redress and insurance regulations in the way they affect tax and national regulations. For me as an insurance manager, another issue is transparency of remuneration for intermediaries.”
“We need to follow all these measures coming from Europe,” says Gaëtan Lefèvre, “and very clearly this is why we support contact with neighbouring associations and reinforce the role of FERMA as our European federation.”
Although not part of the EU, Switzerland has to be aware of everything that is taking place within the EU, explains Sabrina Hartusch, President of Switzerland’s SIRM. For example, many companies have captives in EU countries so Solvency II has important implications for SIRM members.
FERMA member associations range in size from the modest to the very large and mature. The organisations their members represent also vary from global corporations to medium sized organisations and industry sectors, so they have different challenges.
Geographically, RusRisk is FERMA’s largest member. Its President Victor Vereshchagin was elected 11 years ago when the association was created by the representatives of professional business communities, banks and insurance businesses. At that time, he says, people knew little about risk management and did not understand its importance for management and business efficiency.
“I consider that our main achievement since then is an integration of professionals and experts representing the large and medium-sized industrial companies, banks and other credit and financial organisations, the insurers, brokers and consulting companies around our national association.”
Says Jana Bicanová President of ASPAR CZ in the Czech Republic: “As companies and risk managers aim for budget savings and optimisation of internal processes, this can bring new challenges to achieve the right cost-effective quality of risk management. There is still a need to support the risk management and insurance role especially in smaller entities.”
Luxembourg’s ALRiM started as the association of professionals in risk management mainly for banks, according to its President Marco Zwick. “It has substantially enlarged its scope to the investment fund and insurance sectors over the past few years and the next step will be to further extend the scope to corporates.”
From DARIM’s Charlotte Enggaard comes this view. “The FERMA certification project may be one step in the right direction looking at competencies, but also developing corporate governance to include risk management will ensure continued focus. As an organisation of insurance and risk management professionals, we will of course continue to focus on sharing experience and developing practices to support the management of risks.”
Juan Carlos López Porcel
Here the responses could be described as a theme with variations. Juan Carlos López Porcel, President of AGERS, highlights the importance of innovation: “There is no doubt that a competitive advantage will be obtained by the organisations that identify and manage new situations properly. We are thinking about terms such as compliance, acquisition and retentions of talent, cyber risk, natural catastrophes due to climate change, use of apps not authorised by organisations, health, product recall and environmental issues. We also have to mention intangible risks such as image, reputation and ethics. It is our task to keep an eye on changes, taking into account the perception of these risks and their possible management.”
Sabrina Hartusch highlights SIRM’s collaborative approach. “We want to get members work closer together, to share knowledge and meet each other more often.”
SWERMA’s President Fredrik Finnman lists its objectives as:
- Improve on membership benefits through relevant seminars, education and networking.
- Enhance communication with our members through our new web platform launched in 2012.
- Support our captive members in preparing for Solvency II but also through lobbying towards the Swedish Treasury and Financial Supervisory.
- Increase awareness for the risk and insurance profession through our university thesis competition.
“An important issue in Turkey,” explains Aysan Sinanlioglu, President of Turkey’s ERMA, “is the need to have the board of directors and CEO internalise ERM and bring clarity to the role of a risk manager in the organisation – specifically in the non-financial sector. A second one is around the pursuit of a healthy and steady risk intelligence flow in the organisation, one that is founded on (lean) governance structures that allow the risk function to operate and analyse. Locally, we also should be working on the synthesis of risk managers and insurance managers – which are perceived as two separate disciplines at this time. As a young association, this is where ERMA wants to support our risk managers most in the short term.”
Gaëtan Lefèvre says, “One of my targets is to open BELRIM to Europe. Brussels is, after all, at the centre of Europe with many of the major organisations in the city. We are developing strong relationships with our neighbouring associations. For instance we worked with NARIM to host the 2013 FERMA Forum in Maastricht. It is also important to build bridges with other organisations; this is part of our added value.”
This openness is a growing characteristic of FERMA members. AMRAE is promoting and facilitating risk management activity in French speaking countries with the help of other Francophone associations as such as Belgium or Canada. It has also created two regional offices. “Risk management is not only the preoccupation of large companies but it is as well a challenge for medium-capitalised companies,” explains Gilbert Canameras. “These two outposts have already generated a flow of activities in line with the preoccupations of smaller regional companies.”
“What is my best memory as president of APOGERIS? The FERMA Forum in Lisbon in 2005!” is the instantaneous answer of José Manuel da Fonseca. “APOGERIS only became a member of FERMA in 2003 but we persuaded FERMA that we should hold the Forum. It was the first time there were more than 1000 attendees. We had great keynote speakers and great weather. It created a lot of interest among the Portuguese risk and insurance community, too.”
Annemarie Schouw remembers the FERMA Forum in Maastricht in 2013 with great pleasure. “My favourite memories are working with my colleague NARIM board members especially planning an event, thinking about speakers and working how to give everyone the best experience, such as the 2013 FERMA Forum in Maastricht which we organised in cooperation with BELRIM and our ‘own’ annual NARIM Conferences.”
Jana Bicanová says, “We were delighted to host the 2009 FERMA Forum in Prague which encouraged us to hold our annual insurance and risk management conferences.”
“What have I learned? Risk management is a permanent challenge which we have to meet every day in all our functions. Lessons once learned have to be renewed all the time.” Hans-Jörg Schill, BfV
“Training is highly relevant to us. We need to ask ourselves – what I have learned today? If wwe have an answer to that question, then our day will be productive,” Juan Carlos López Porcel, AGERS