Risk management and the insurance industry are today at crossroads as they face a changing European environment and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the President of FERMA Jo Willaert stated this morning as he opened the 2017 FERMA Forum in Monaco.

“We are living in a fascinating time. There are certainly threats but also many opportunities. We find ourselves at a cross-roads, and we are all looking for the right directions. I believe that by an emphasis on leadership, communication and education, the risk manager can be not just a map reader, but a map maker. The risk manager can be the leader in his or her function and foster the leadership of the enterprise,” he said speaking to more than 1300 risk professionals from across Europe.

Jo Willaert emphasised the positive nature of managed risk-taking and said that risk managers and the insurance industry should play an essential role in helping European businesses to embrace opportunities.

There is great unpredictability, he explained. The European Union is going through a period of change, and there are many global challenges – political tensions, mass migration and climate change, among them. At the same time, a Fourth Industrial Revolution is taking us in some unpredictable directions. “Risk taking is essential to the sustainability of business, not in spite of this environment, but because of it,” he said.

For risk managers, the way forward is to support and inform risk taking. “We play a valuable role in our risk reporting and compliance function, but we should also have the confidence to build on that aspect of our work and show how managed taking-risk is positive and essential to the sustainability of the enterprise. If we can do this, our choice of future routes is wide.”

The insurance community, said Jo Willaert, will remain the risk managers’ closest partner, but he called on brokers and insurers to work in a new way with European businesses by emphasising service and broader solutions, rather than traditional underwriting and lines of business. “Insurers are at a cross-roads, but not at a dead end! We encourage the industry to follow a different route, expanding the type of solutions and providing services, such as their technical expertise and data sharing, in partnership with their corporate clients.”

He concluded: “Our ultimate destination is a prosperous and sustainable future for Europe, for our enterprises and for our communities, but there are decisions to be made about the route. I believe that the risk management community is in a strong position to support the decision makers.”

The FERMA Forum 2017 is taking place from 15-18 October at the Grimaldi Forum in Monte Carlo.

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Have a look at pictures of FERMA Forum Day One – 16 October