Why Airmic must never stand still

Patrick Smith looks back at his year as chair, which reaches its climax with the annual conference - and discusses the initiatives that have helped Airmic maintain its momentum. Staying ahead of the game to reflect changes in the business world is a never-ending challenge for the association and its members, he says.

“We very much feel the challenges of a fast-changing insurance and risk world. Our members work for organisations that are in a fast-changing, disruptive environment, whatever their industry. The digital age has dawned. We have to reflect that,” says Patrick Smith.

This outlook helps to explain the changes that have been taking place within Airmic during the past year. They include the setting up of a Leadership Advisory Board, increased emphasis on risk and leadership skills, a new website and customer relationship system and greater use of e-technology – for example, to renew membership or gain access to Airmic Academy.

Last autumn the Board held a series of moderated sessions to look ahead and plan for the future. Just as the association keeps pressing the need for insurance to change its offering in order to remain relevant, it too needs to stay ahead of the game. “Airmic would risk becoming of diminished value if it stood still. The strategic workshops mitigate that risk, and lead to many of the changes we have made this year and are planning going forward,” he says.

In the meantime, Smith can look back on another very successful year for Airmic:

  • record membership numbers and levels of engagement;
  • the best attended annual dinner;
  • what looks set to be the most popular annual conference of all time; and
  • more companies than ever represented by the association.

In terms of activities, more than ten technical reports due to be unveiled at the conference and a couple of legislative achievements – the Insurance Act and Enterprise Act - bear witness to Airmic’s growing influence and standing.

“Airmic clearly remains as relevant today as it has been in the past. The technical agenda contains the right spread of initiatives to benefit our membership,” he says.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the year. It’s nice to be at the helm of an organisation that’s gaining momentum. We are moving with the times with a talented and diverse board supported by an exceptionally effective secretariat.”

His highlights have included a sell-out annual dinner that raised almost £10,000 and made a game-changing difference to his chosen charity, Electric Umbrella, which provides music-centric experiences to educationally challenged adults.

He gives special mention also to the second fastTrack forum (for young and inexperienced members), which focussed on what will be required of risk managers in the future. “I think the focus on leadership skills rather than pure technical knowledge is proving key to that group, and we have learned that it is relevant and of interest to the whole membership,” he explains. Another “important step forward” was the launch of the Leadership Advisory Board. Together with plans for a major ERM event in the autumn that he believes that this combination of initiatives will increase engagement across the membership.

Finally, just ahead of thr event, Smith expressed confidence that the annual conference would be the biggest and best ever: “We have the same mix of networking, real interaction between partners, providers and our members. It gives great learning opportunities for our members and gets better year-on-year,” he says.

And any words for his successor? “Clive [Clarke] is a great deputy and will be a fantastic chair. I wish him well, and hope that he maintains the momentum.”

Patrick Smith, meanwhile, will continue to be active with the association and will support Clarke – staying on the Board and its executive committee and attending events; supporting the continual progress though without the responsibilities that go with the Chair's role.