This interview was initially published in the PRIM Newsletter (Issue n.30 – July 2012)
Jorge LUZZI is Group Risk Management Director for the Pirelli Group & President of the Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA).
Since last October, Mr. Luzzi is also the President of FERMA, so the focus of the interview is on the role and importance of FERMA. Following is the interview conducted by Laurent Nihoul.
PRiM: As the President of the Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA), how would you describe FERMA to our local PRiM members?
Jorge Luzzi: The rationale that lead to the creation of FERMA in the seventies is still
topical: Providing the risk management sector with a European platform that aims at
coordinating local associations, promoting professional standards and participating in the European political debate through lobbying actions.
PRiM: How many countries are represented in FERMA?
Jorge Luzzi: Today, FERMA brings together 22 associations from 20 different countries, the latest one to join us being precisely Luxembourg.
PRiM: Not the largest country I assume…
Jorge Luzzi: Surely not by its size, but Luxembourg is a major financial centre in Europe and an insurance and reinsurance centre of excellence. We are very proud to have members from so many different countries, from Russia to Portugal, from Sweden to Turkey, from Malta to Finland, which means more than 4,200 individual members spread all over the European continent. It gives us a legitimate weight to interact with the European authorities. This is clearly the aim of FERMA: Taking over the weight of individual associations to help all European risk management professionals, regardless of the size of their respective countries.
PRiM: From a Luxembourg perspective, it clearly sounds crucial. For small countries such as Luxembourg or Malta, crossing borders to make us heard is quite difficult.
Jorge Luzzi: This is our main and constant matter of concern. You know that we have very large national associations in Europe with hundreds or thousands of individual members. The obvious examples are France, Germany or the UK. But Belgium and The Netherlands, despite their relatively small size are also significant in terms of members. Our role is to gather all the needs and aspects of our profession to address the local issues from a global perspective. FERMA can be seen as an international umbrella for national associations: we try to support them with regard to their local issues or needs and to provide all members with the benefits of our lobbying efforts and our activities.
PRiM: You were talking about Luxembourg as the latest member of FERMA. Indeed, PRiM joined FERMA in February this year. What was your personal feeling about this new membership?
Jorge Luzzi: I was really delighted to welcome PRiM in FERMA and I was surprised that it had not happened before. I mean Luxembourg is the first European domicile for captives, which are important tools for risk managers to implement self-financing schemes in respect of risks. In addition, Luxembourg has financial and insurance sectors that far exceed the country’s size. That means a large and skilled risk management community and a strong risk management culture. It makes a lot of sense to have Luxembourg on board at last.
PRiM: Do you think that PRiM can add value to FERMA? Beyond the fact that FERMA has an additional member, what do you see as the main input that Luxembourg risk professionals can offer to other countries?
Jorge Luzzi: I would point out two main topics. First, I think PRiM can strengthen FERMA’s knowledge and expertise in the field of captive reinsurance companies. As mentioned, this kind of vehicle is widely used by risk and insurance managers around the world to optimise the financing of their risks. So, having at our table the association representing the largest captive domicile in Europe is more than beneficial. It will complete our views and bring more expertise to our discussions. With Solvency II on the horizon, for example, and its potentially burdensome requirements for risk and insurance managers, this will certainly strengthen our approach. The second area, in which I expect specific insights from PRiM, is the management of financial risks. I know that you are deeply and mainly involved in financial risk management matters while other FERMA members are more “risk and insurance” oriented.
PRiM: You are right. We are trying to develop our insurance activities, but clearly our principal focus is on financial services.This is due to the history of PRiM, initially launched by financial risk managers, and by the weight of the banking and fund sectors in Luxembourg.
Jorge Luzzi: Yes, we can say that you are slightly different from the other associations, but this is exactly why I foresee this as an advantage. Financial risk management techniques are becoming more and more important throughout all economic sectors. Risk managers and CFOs will have to make more and more connections in the future. Financial risks, operational, strategic and insurable, or transferable risks must be connected to outline the full risk landscape of a company. So we will have to build more bridges between them to gain a perfect understanding of the related connections and techniques. Within this context, the specific focus of PRiM will be an interesting complementary input.
PRiM: This is indeed an interesting topic to be developed. What are the other hot topics currently under scrutiny within FERMA?
Jorge Luzzi: What is really in the headlines these weeks are the closing of our sixth benchmarking risk management survey. Every two years, we conduct this survey among our members and other risk professionals to gain a better understanding of the current trends and how they are expected to evolve in the near future. The survey remained open until 20th June and was sent to thousands of risk professionals across Europe.
PRiM: Do you already have some results to share with us? When will the results of this survey be available for a larger audience?
Jorge Luzzi: Not really, since the end of the survey is too close. We will announce the results at our seminar in Versailles on 22 and 23 October. It will be the first results that I will issue as President of FERMA. I am really looking forward to sharing this with all our members. These surveys have always been extremely interesting and provided risk professionals with practical and concrete views about
their daily work.
PRiM: You were elected President of FERMA last September and succeeded Peter den Dekker. What are the objectives of your mandate?
Jorge Luzzi: Well, it is not an easy task to succeed Peter, who worked very hard and whose presidency was a big success in increasing FERMA’s stature and profile. My personal objectives are to pursue the enlargement of FERMA, i.e., bringing in new countries to strengthen our lobbying capabilities. The larger we are, the stronger we can be to open dialogues with European or national authorities. There are still countries missing on our map and I will try to address that. Another axis will be to continue the development of connections with other professional associations (for example, internal auditors) or international bodies (e.g., US risk managers). We should think more and more about global connections, since this is the way the economy is going. Finally, I would like to mention a project that was recently launched within FERMA: considering the creation of a pan-European certificate of professional competence for risk managers.
PRiM: You mean creating a kind of international degree for risk managers?
Jorge Luzzi: Well, our working group has just been launched, so we’ll see what will be the final outcome. But the initial idea is to assess the feasibility of creating two types of certificate: Professional and Specialist. The Professional one would be based on real experience and previous education, whilst the Specialist one would imply formal education and examination by accredited organisations. We are looking for a kind of independent confirmation that the relevant individual has a recognised high level of knowledge and experience in risk management. The final target of this initiative is to increase the professional standards in risk management and to move continuously towards the best possible practices in our profession. This is certainly one of the most important projects, in which we have ever been involved. I’m really enthusiastic and will strongly support this project to make it a success. I would encourage your readers to follow this project and all other FERMA’s activities on our Web site.
PRiM: Your Web site is www.ferma.eu. Thank you for sharing your views with us.