Risk management continues to evolve. What began as an insurance purchasing role has expanded to a much broader responsibility.
Risk management now includes a more holistic analysis of business and financial risks, risk-bearing capacity and the development of strategic solutions to numerous areas of organizational risk.
The Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) Annual Conference and Exhibition is the largest gathering of risk management practitioners in the world. This year, the event is set for May 1-5 in Vancouver. The conference provides three primary services to its 10,000 members: resources, networking and education.
“With 80 local chapters meeting regularly, RIMS members can learn about the industry, use the society’s variety of resources and make key connections with their peers and fellow members,” says Jennifer Fahey, executive vice president and leader of Aon Risk Solutions, U.S. Sales and Marketing.
Smart Business spoke with Fahey about the benefits of getting involved with RIMS.
What is RIMS, and who are its members?
RIMS is a nonprofit organization that focuses on advancing the practice of risk management. The majority of its members are risk managers or intermediaries for corporations and other organizations, insurers and other service providers. Financial officers and executives overseeing risk management with corporations and other organizations are also members. Membership facilitates contact with a broad array of professionals in disciplines, including IT, legal, finance and audit, as well as academics, regulators, elected officials and specialists from the risk management and insurance industry.
Why is continuing education so important in risk management?
Risk management, or risk mastery, has become a complex and challenging field. Clients are dealing with risk around the world and need sophisticated tools to address their myriad risks.
Traditional insurance is the best known of the risk manager’s risk transfer tools and risk mitigation is often the most efficient solution. Risk managers now need to make use of a variety of operational tools, including risk mitigation and prevention, as well as financial tools, including captive and special purpose insurance companies, structured insurance transactions, integrated risk placements, loss portfolio transfers and a variety of risk retention methods. Risk managers are constantly blending financial techniques with traditional insurance to deal with increasingly complex risks.
Why should risk managers consider attending the RIMS annual conference?
Education, business efficiency and networking. Throughout the week, RIMS sessions provide continuing education on various aspects of risk, exposures and litigation, including hot topics such as cyberliability, enterprise risk management, crisis management, business continuity, emergency planning and so much more. Because of the significant attendance by insurers and other service providers, Aon and other brokers and consultants — including many senior executives and participants from locations across and outside the U.S. — the conference presents an ideal opportunity to hold effective renewal, relationship and exploratory business meetings.
What kind of business is done at the conference?
All kinds. We meet to initiate or strengthen relationships; we meet with existing clients and insurers to prepare for upcoming renewals or review the risks of an organization with a prospective insurer that might have the ability to help manage some of that risk. Some meetings are specific to industry groups because of specialized exposures common to those industries. For companies, it’s a great opportunity to meet with some of the industry’s best talent, glean insight into future industry trends through the senior management of insurers and brokers, as well as to meet with the individuals specifically underwriting their risk or determining claim outcomes.
How can meeting with those individuals help companies with their insurance issues?
Insurance contracts, like most forms of contracts, cannot anticipate every aspect of risk and exposure, so it’s important to have strong insurer relationships. Having strong personal relationships with not just the day-to-day underwriter, but also with the claims professionals and insurer’s management, helps companies negotiate through the gray areas.
Having been in this industry for more than two decades, I can absolutely vouch for the importance of clients’ and brokers’ underwriter and insurer relationships in working through claim issues.
How does RIMS support local communities?
Aon sponsors a Community Service day in conjunction with RIMS at the annual conference. It’s a long-term tradition that continues at the 2011 conference in Vancouver. This year we will be rebuilding an athletic field in Vancouver in an economically challenged area. RIMS also offers opportunities for students who are preparing to become risk management or insurance professionals. Since 1978, RIMS has sponsored funding for college students to attend the conference, with 30 students attending the 2010 conference in Boston.
How can someone get involved with RIMS?
Enroll online at www.rims.org. There are 80 local chapters.
Most chapters meet monthly, with networking opportunities and presentations by experts on areas including litigation trends and exposures. Having attended many of these local meetings across the country, they are a great source of local expertise.
Jennifer Fahey is an executive vice president and leader of U.S. Sales and Marketing with Aon Risk Solutions, the broking subsidiary of Aon Corp. Reach her at (212) 441-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.