VIEW: On the role of the risk profession in leading businesses into the 'new world'

At Airmic’s annual conference in Harrogate in June, the risk and insurance professions came together to debate how we should respond – collectively and as individuals – to the challenges of the ‘new world’.

We are in the early stages of a revolution driven by technology that will profoundly affect most aspects of our lives, our economy and our businesses. This revolution is different to previous ones because of the speed of change and the magnitude of the rewards and consequences. On the one hand, these changes give rise to unprecedented opportunities – on the other, to threats and vulnerabilities that we could not have imagined five years ago.

The conference generated considerable debate about the way risk management is and should be changing, and how insurers should be responding to these new challenges. Many questions were raised and perhaps just a few were answered. But one message that rang out loud and clear was that the risk profession has a vital role to play in helping businesses adapt.

Indeed, the results of our 2019 member survey revealed a real hunger for broader business involvement; 75% of respondents want more opportunities to influence strategic decision making. To do this, however, the risk profession will have to evolve and risk managers will need new skills. Learning to think and behave as business people will become vital. This means aligning the risk strategy to business objectives, and differentiating between operational risk and compliance on the one hand, and strategic and tactical risk on the other.
We are already seeing the profession change. According to the survey, our members recognise that communication, influence, cross-functional business experience and commercial acumen are the skills required to ensure the profession is adapting to the challenges of the new world.

Today’s business environment is more challenging and unpredictable than ever before. Our job as risk professionals is not to predict what’s going to happen; it is to ensure our businesses are positioned to take advantage of the exciting opportunities opening up.

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