Navigating tomorrow’s risks today – Sompo’s key takeaways from AIRMIC

June 20, 2024

The annual AIRMIC conference was held in Edinburgh and the Sompo team was fully represented with people from our property, casualty, specialty, multinational, claims and risk control functions all in attendance.

Economic and climate risks headed the agenda, as well as the opportunities and threats of new and emerging technology. And with the UK election called on the eve of the event, it was little surprise that geopolitics – already a hot topic – was much discussed.

Julian James, Sompo’s Global Markets CEO, participating in a panel on Underwriting the Future – the Roads to Relevance stressed how insurers need to step up. “The more geopolitical instability there is, the greater the opportunity for the insurance industry to respond,” he said. “We do a great job at transferring uncertainty but need to go beyond just having a strong, controlled and sustainable risk appetite.

“As an industry, we need to do a better job at promoting ourselves. We should be more confident to shout loudly about the great work that we do. If you look at any major incident around the world, the insurance industry is there to get business back on its feet. In the face of an unprecedented increase in property catastrophe risk in recent years, the insurance industry has absorbed tens of billions of dollars in losses without missing a beat. Not just that but we’ve been able to deploy our expertise to advise on a range of issues including improving building standards and how to get the best out of data and AI to help minimise future losses.”

Taking a 360 view

Rich LaGala, Sompo’s Director of Risk Control, joined his colleagues Richard Brown, Matt Hoare and Richard Wilkinson for a leadership breakfast titled Beyond Borders – Tech-Powered Risk Management in a Globalised World to expand on the theme and share his insights.

“Companies and insurers today are operating in an integrated ecosystem of information and they need to take a 360 degree view that encompasses both the technology and human expertise components,” he said. “There is a vast and growing array of tech solutions and we know that risk managers don’t have the time or budget to look at all the options. That’s why we’re investing time to review the market and bring the best recommendations to meet each individual client’s needs.”

When it comes to AI, Rich emphasised that it can be a double-edged sword; generating efficiencies to support a lack of resource but at the same time opening up potential new areas of risk.

“The most frequently asked question about AI I hear from risk managers is – what should we be doing about it right now?” he said. “The answer is you need to know how AI is being used already both at an organisation level and by the individuals within it. That means bringing people together – most importantly the C-Suite – to talk about it.”

Engaging the board

To that end, Sompo’s first session at AIRMIC was titled How to Engage your C-Suite and was designed to help risk managers to better understand the C-suite agenda and engage the board, with insights, advice and practical guidance from across the career spectrum, including Google’s Alison Quinlivan and Sompo’s U.K. CEO Bob Thaker and Rachael Dobie from the Strategic Distribution & Development team.

The interactive session was led by Mike Reid, Sompo’s CUO, U.K. Commercial Lines, and focused on four key areas: building credibility, effective communication strategies, personal branding and visibility and strategic networking.

Here’s just a few of the key take-aways shared in the session:

Alison Quinlivan: “When engaging with the C-suite, prepare the right message, use language that works and show passion and belief in what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re not passionate, how can you ask someone else to be?”

Bob Thaker: “Take every opportunity to get your name known but think about the impression you are leaving people with. It is easy to spot who is engaged in self-promotion and who is actually delivering.”

Rachael Dobie: “Honesty is a big part of building credibility with the board. You need to be genuine; honest about what you know and what you don’t know. Displaying confidence is also important but don’t over-promise – deliver what you say you’re going to.”

The final word goes to Julian James who to emphasises the importance of being able to put ourselves in others’ shoes. “Whether you’re engaging with colleagues, brokers or clients, you should have a very clear idea of your purpose,” he said. “The role of Sompo as an organisation is to help others and I consider it my role to encourage people to do the same in their everyday interactions.”

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