Log in Join now News & media

Airmic survey reveals risk profession is moving centre stage

Risk management is moving from the back office to centre stage, creating opportunities for risk and insurance professionals to reposition themselves as valued strategic business partners, the results of the 2019 Airmic member survey have revealed.

The survey results, released at Airmic’s annual conference in Harrogate, paint a picture of an increasingly ambitious profession in which Airmic members are keen to upskill, gain exposure to their leadership and attain new knowledge relevant for the changing business landscape.

It also reveals a changing profession, with a seven point increase from 2017 in the percentage of members who are responsible for risk management, demonstrating the growing priority businesses are placing on the management of risk. This growth has primarily come from new members joining Airmic.

The results revealed that insurers are providing a wider range of services, and in particular are offering more guidance on how to manage intangible risks rather than simply paying out when things go wrong — a development welcomed by risk managers.

Use of data and analytics is also improving relationships with insurers: more than half (51%) of respondents said data and analytics have been effective or very effective in strengthening their insurer relationship, while half said it had secured more tailored insurance relationships.


Risk management’s DNA is changing. This year’s survey shows that risk management is generally a more gender-diverse profession, salary levels on average are higher and business backgrounds are increasingly diverse. Respondents indicate that their education priorities are communication and influencing skills, and commercial and financial acumen. KEY STAT: 29% of members have responsibility for risk management, up seven points from 2017.

Protecting intangible assets is recognised as a key priority, while risks beyond the organisation’s control are expected to rise in profile. Loss of reputation has been identified as the top business risk for the third consecutive year, while data security and political uncertainty are top of mind as well. KEY STAT: 76% of respondents said loss of reputation had been a top-of-mind business risk in the last 12 months.

Risks related to the megatrends of geopolitical volatility, climate change and digital transformation are of most concern, but respondents are less confident in their ability to manage these threats. KEY STAT: 64% want to see more innovative/tailored insurance solutions.

Boards are ‘buying in’ to the risk ethos. The expectations placed on directors are rising. Companies are more global and directors are stepping up and embracing change – directors are listening more and engaging more. Risk professionals must be ready to respond and be able to link top-of-mind business risks with the organisation’s strategic objectives. KEY STAT: 68% said data security is of most concern in the boardroom.

Centre stage visibility is critical for managing the risks of today and tomorrow. Respondents report mature and improving collaboration with most business areas. KEY STAT: 58% believe developing communication and influence will be key to becoming a strategic business asset to their organisation.

Members are ambitious about contributing to the strategic direction of their organisation. The profession is confident in its ability to bring value and identify opportunities through risk and insurance management. KEY STAT: 75% of respondents want greater opportunities to influence strategic decision making within their organisation.

The New World requires New Solutions. This survey provides a 2020 Vision designed to equip the profession for the challenges ahead.

The research shows a profession responding to a changing business and risk landscape, according to Julia Graham, Airmic’s deputy CEO and technical director: “The transformation of business models harnessing digital innovation is demanding a more agile and better-connected response from risk and insurance professionals.

“The good news is, the profession is ambitious to take up this challenge and gain greater influence across the business. Risk managers must now respond by deepening their range of ‘soft’ skills, business acumen and collaboration.”

The report is based on the responses of 157 members, surveyed between February and March 2019. Airmic partnered with AIG, Control Risks, KPMG, QBE Insurance and Willis Towers Watson on the 2019 research project, entitled Risk Management: Vision 2020.