Airmic CEO hails progress on getting risk into the boardroom

The campaign to put risk management and insurance firmly on boardroom agendas has made significant advances over the past 12 months, according Airmic chief executive, John Hurrell. His comments came on the opening day of the association’s largest ever annual conference in Liverpool, and ahead of the launch of a new guide for risk managers which includes advice on how to support the c-suite.

Air war versus ground war

Hurrell told the audience that risk managers and the wider market are making strides in gaining recognition for their professions – but that there is more work to be done. There are two fronts to be fought, he argued:

“Firstly, there is what I call the ‘air war’, where we seek to influence senior decision makers beyond our membership with research and thought leadership…And secondly, there is the ‘ground war’ where we set out to provide our members with the ammunition they might need to take advantage of the ‘bombing campaign’.

“The campaign, ladies and gentlemen, is going very well indeed!”

Record-breaking conference

Liverpool 2015 was officially the biggest Airmic conference to date with attendance breaking last year’s record to reach 1686 delegates. 

The changing world of risk

Airmic used its conference to unveil a new guide to achieving resilience, The Changing World of Risk, which brings together much of what Airmic has been doing over the past 18 months to get risk up the corporate agenda. It argues that the barriers to becoming a resilient organisation in today’s environment are higher than ever before given the pace of globalisation, digitalisation and technological change. This environment, it argues, is opening up opportunities for risk professionals.

The report calls on risk managers to rise to the challenge and urges them to “become executive partners, or risk counsel to the board”.

The paper builds on Airmic’s highly acclaimed Roads to Resilience research published last year, which argued that resilience is a key indicator of success. Analysis of a series of case studies revealed that successful companies are underpinned by five common principles: an effective risk radar, diversified resources and assets, rapid response capability, effective relationships, and the ability to review and adapt.

Road-map to success

Using checklists and a scoring system based around these five principles, Airmic’s new paper sets out a step-by-step process to measure a company’s level of resilience, ranging from “needs urgent attention” to “high level of resilience”. It also provides a road map to success for each principle, including 10 practical tips for each area.

Commenting on the report ahead of its launch, Hurrell said: “Since we published Roads to Resilience last year, the business environment and risk management world have continued to change: its lessons are even more relevant today. This report puts the lessons of that research into today’s business context and provides practical advice for the risk community on how to achieve resilience – and therefore success – in an extremely challenging environment.”

“The perfect opportunity for risk managers”

The paper also draws out the lessons for risk managers of the long-awaited guidance on risk management and internal controls published by the Financial Reporting Council last autumn. In his opening address, Hurrell described the FRC guidance, which calls on directors to take greater responsibility for risk management, as “the perfect opportunity for risk managers to step up and support their boards”.

Concluding his opening speech, Hurrell said that Airmic, its members and the wider market really can and are contributing to progress. “This is a tremendous time for our profession…Between us all we will continue to make a difference – and that’s a promise.”

Read the round-up of all the guides launched at the conference.

Airmic CEO on why risk is going up the corporate agenda, but insurance is falling


John Hurrell: “the campaign is advancing”