The FERMA 2012 Benchmarking Survey closed on 20 June with a healthy response which exceeded all previous surveys. Between now and the seminar on 22 October, FERMA and sponsors AXA Corporate Solutions and Ernst & Young will be preparing a report based on the findings.
According to Cristina Martinez, FERMA board member with responsibility for the survey, “This report will be a valuable source of information for companies across Europe. They will be able to compare the maturity of their risk management policies and processes against others in their own business sector and in other countries. I am really looking forward to seeing the results.”
After the survey closed, FERMA spoke to a number of members to get their impressions of this year’s edition and the aspects that they find most interesting and useful. Here are their comments.
Alessandro De Felice
Board member of FERMA and ANRA and Group Risk Manager at Prysmian
“I believe it’s important that risk managers take the trouble to complete the survey as it is in all our interests that there is the data to analyse for benchmarking,” said Alessandro. He completed the whole survey after overcoming a small hurdle. “I had to forward to a personal email as the company firewall wouldn’t allow access from office but then it only took about 20 minutes to complete.”
His responsibilities go from insurance to enterprise risk management (ERM) and he says: “Parts of the survey which I found particularly interesting were the questions on promoting risk management internally, the creation of a risk committee and how the risk committee needs to be involved with functions like internal audit, health and safety and security.”
There is likely to be, however, less application to the Italian market in general, considering the size of most Italian companies. “We have a small number of large companies and a large number of medium and small companies which don’t strictly follow ERM and corporate governance approaches to risk management.” At the same time, integrating risk management is important for these companies because they are often suppliers to much larger, quoted companies.
Director of Risk Management Bilfinger Berger Budownictwo and member of POLRISK
For Krzysztof, the section of the survey on risk management governance was particularly relevant, because he has been looking at the company risk management framework locally, and the group has been doing a similar exercise internationally. “So the items on risk governance helped me to refresh our approach,” he commented. Krzysztof added that since risk management practices vary between business sectors and markets, he will be interested to see the comparisons shown by the survey results.
Having joined PolRisk in 2011, Krzysztof was doing the survey for the first time, and he found it straightforward. The group has a global insurance programme and his responsibilities include just the local insurances, but he was able to answer all the questions. He suggested: “Future surveys could include more on compliance and ethics. These are going to be increasingly important areas for risk management.”
Global Head of Insurance Triumph International and a member of SIRM
For Sabrina, this was the second time she completed the survey and she thought by comparison it was more structured and had more substance than two years ago. She did observe, however, that there were some questions in the risk management section that left room for interpretation which could make compiling the results more difficult. “The next survey could perhaps look at the definitions.” She also believes that allowing respondents to add comments could add depth.
“I found all the questions interesting and completed the whole survey. As I am responsible for insurance, this section was very important, but so too are better risk governance and the risk management process. I apply the risk management principles in my daily work. When you are developing a risk management function, you can use the results as a basis for validation, not following them mechanically but as a tool in developing your own strategy. They give a basis for comparison.”
As Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, the EU-related topics are less immediately relevant to Swiss companies but many of them have EU subsidiaries and so still want to know what is happening with EU measures. “Otherwise, the extent to which the findings will be relevant depends on the maturity of the company,” Sabrina adds.
Risk and Insurance Manager DHL Poland and member of POLRISK
As a regional area risk and insurance manager for a global group, Bob says that the survey results will be interesting for him but more relevant to the group’s central risk management operation in London where most decisions on risk and insurances are centrally coordinated.
For himself, he wants to see the insurance results, because in Central and Eastern Europe there are still a lot of people in the industry with a civil service approach, a legacy from the state owned insurance companies in the Communist era. “It is getting much better,” he says, “but there is still some way to go.” Claims handling is also an issue. “There is still a lot of the old ‘deny all claims’ mentality.”
President of ANRA and Risk Manager, Telecom Italia
“I think the survey works very well. Even without the answers, the questions are very useful as they give us a picture of where we are in the profession. That said, the questions are not easy, and I think there is still confusion about what we mean by risk management, for instance, whether we are talking about strategy or compliance. I believe we can clarify that in the next version.”
Paulo went through all the sections as he is responsible for ERM in his company, and as such his activities are quite broad and cover both risk management and insurance. He has done previous surveys and encouraged colleagues to take part.
“The results will help us bring the position of the risk manager up the hierarchy of companies, which we desperately need. Many of our colleagues are looking at risk management as a possible extension of their activities. This is especially the case for compliance in highly regulated sectors, such as telecoms and energy. Risk management, however, needs to be part of the strategy of the business, and the results of the survey will show that we act as managers at operational level by setting the framework for enterprise risk management.
More broadly, Paolo observed, differences in corporate governance between what are broadly common law and civil code countries across countries in Europe create one of the tricky points in answering some of the questions and interpreting the replies.
Group Risk & Insurance Manager Gemalto and a member of AMRAE
Sophie feels the survey is a valuable exercise but she had reservations about some of it. “I think the survey was quite long, and some of the questions were rather too detailed or asked for information that could be confidential, such as risk tolerance per category.” She would also like to see clarification on risk committees in the next survey to indicate whether the question relates to a board level or operational body. Since her job entails both risk management and insurance, she completed all the sections but says that it was good that it was possible for respondents to skip parts that were not relevant to their work. Sophie will be at Versailles and is looking forward to learning the results “to see if the responses coming from companies themselves are different from surveys conducted by consultants.”
Director of Risk Assurance Morgan Crucible and immediate past chair of Airmic
“I think this is a great survey, though I have to admit an interest in that I have been involved with it in the past,” Paul admits.
“The main challenge with this survey, and any other survey, is whether the person completing the questions is reflecting where they are today or their aspirations, where they are aiming. For instance, when someone produces an annual risk report for the board, they can still say they report regularly to the board, but it is not the same as full ERM and communication several times a year.”
For his own company, the results are useful as a benchmark, particularly in terms of governance. Twenty years of the Combined Code on Corporate Governance and the Turnbull Guidance mean that for UK companies the 8th European Company Law Directive does not present fresh issues. Said Paul: “All other areas are relevant, how risk is managed, how it is organised in the company and the level of maturity. Some organisations are producing a risk maturity index by which companies can benchmark themselves. If as an outcome, we could develop a risk maturity index based on the questions, it would add value. If it we did this each time, we could track risk maturity.”
She is very interested in risk management objectives as seen by key stakeholders and the triggers that can help to promote risk management. Sophie says that when a company says managers have “formal responsibility” for risk management, she would like to know how this really manifests in their work.
Head of Insurance at Petrol, Ljubljana and President of S.I. Risk
Maja went through all three sections of the survey together with her risk manager colleague, although with her responsibility for insurance, this was the most important part for her. She says: “It was not all easy to complete, especially some of the risk management questions where we had to know what exactly was being asked. Some questions were very interesting, and it is really important we think about these subjects.
“The benchmarking is very useful as we are able to see what others are doing. It is also interesting to have results country by country to compare. It will be interesting to see the differences between countries, which level they have reached. I hope that we will be able to compare our own responses with those of other energy companies, although we are not a big enough association to be able to compare results within our own country as many members will be able to do.”
Risk Management Consultant Corporate Treasury, Tax & Insurance, H Lundbeck and member of DARIM
As a member of the DARIM for 18 years, Kirsten has completed the survey several times in the past, but says that this year it has been much easier to answer and it was clear. Although she is responsible for both insurance and risk management, she only provides support to liability claims management, so she did not answer those questions. For historical reasons, managing liability claims in the Danish pharmaceutical industry comes under the legal department.
How will she use the survey? “I think we will use the survey as a catalogue of possibilities to exploit. In my view, in some areas of risk management Denmark is way ahead, in some others it is dragging behind. You have to anticipate what might happen and find out where you can improve without costly investigations.”
For the future, Kirsten would like to see more in the survey about the future of risk managers. “I don’t think it is easy to find out where people are going to be,” she admits. Other questions of particular interest cover where risk management should be embedded, where it has its mandate and where it is visible. As she says: “If there are no accidents, then there is no news from the insurance front. That is good news but it does not make risk management visible.”