Wilkommen in Berlin - this is the message to all risk management professionals who will be encouraged to come to the Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA) Forum in October 1999, says Ina Barker.

Tempus fugit! It is amazing to realise that eight successful European risk management forums have been held since 1991 under the banner of AEAI (and more recently FERMA) and RIMS. But for all good strategists in today's brave new world, it is important to do things differently to meet the changing markets and changing customer needs. Having listened carefully to members and delegates, we are making two key changes with the FERMA Forum in 1999.

* A new venue

FERMA has selected Berlin from a range of major European locations. It is a real contrast to the previous venue of Monte Carlo, but one which we believe will be a real winner.

* A new organisation

FERMA will be solely responsible for organising and hosting the event, without the involvement of RIMS.

Why are we changing?

European businesses are merging, working more closely together and becoming more inter-dependent in the global economic environment. The British Airways announcement of the purchase of new Airbus planes from the European Consortium, and recent consolidation within the accountancy and insurance broker markets are a good illustration of this growing trend.

FERMA is keen to reposition itself and develop a more effective federation both across the EU and particularly in central and eastern Europe where currently risk management professionals in corporate entities are somewhat limited. FERMA is also committed to helping its members to achieve best practice in risk management through the exchange of information and the sharing of solutions to problems across Europe.

Sometimes the risk manager's life can be a lonely one, especially in today's rapidly changing business environment. FERMA wants to inspire risk managers to give them confidence in the discipline, so that they are competent in integrating risk management within their organisations, can act as catalysts for positive corporate culture change and, importantly, are comfortable in persuading their directors to take good business decisions which embrace good risk management principles.

The national associations, such as the UK's AIRMIC, France's AMRAE, and Italy's ANRA, all play a very important role in developing and providing services to all their members, but FERMA needs to be dedicated to raising the profile of risk management across a wider audience at European level.

"New FERMA" will, therefore, have its official launch at the European Risk Management Forum in October 1999, although in spirit and practicality, our reshaping of FERMA is already well underway.

As part of this new strategy, FERMA has decided that the time has come to be responsible for running the forum on its own. FERMA is very conscious and appreciative of the benefits from the organisational partnership with RIMS, which brought expertise, support and enthusiasm to the event. The new arrangements are with the mutual agreement and blessing of RIMS, which is happy to continue to share advice in the background.

Why Berlin?

Almost 10 years on from the reunification, Berlin is truly an exciting city, and will forever be a symbol of the breaking down of barriers and a fresh start. Major reconstruction is well under way with the Potsdamer Platz and central area being Europe's largest building development. Risk management is absolutely central to the new buildings, transportation systems and the logistics of providing supply and disposal facilities to and from sites. Environmental concerns are a high priority in both construction and operational activities.

* It is a major business centre and will be attractive to delegates from central and eastern Europe.

* It is easily accessible by air, rail and road.

* The city is renowned for its cultural activities. It is the home of the highly acclaimed Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

In short, Berlin is an ideal venue in 1999 for demonstrating the benefits of good risk management.

The forum will take place in the Hotel Maritim pro Arts in Unter den Linden, an excellent modern location where the exhibition, business meetings and other activities can all be held under the same roof.

The theme

Corporate governance - the new frontier for risk management - will be the main theme of the European Risk Management Forum.

As businesses recognise the importance of their responsibilities to all stakeholders, namely employees, customers and suppliers as well as shareholders and the community, it gives risk managers an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how they can help to influence business decisions and ensure implementation of good risk management standards.

The ability of risk managers to achieve this becomes increasingly important in the light of impending pan-European issues such as the single European currency and the year 2000.

The programme of keynote presentations, workshops and exhibition displays will focus on this theme and provide delegates from all sectors of the risk management community with learning opportunities, as well as giving plenty of time to network. Some significant changes will be made to the format of the event, details of which will be revealed in due course.

Who benefits?

FERMA is very enthusiastic about the opportunities which these changes in its strategy will open up. Risk management and insurance specialists in organisations who are not already members of the national association will be encouraged to attend the forum, which we believe will enthuse them to join their own national body. In those European countries where no national association currently exists, the higher profile of FERMA and risk management will give individuals in those territories the chance to meet with their counterparts and, hopefully, then create a demand for their own national association.

All service providers in risk management, whether insurers, reinsurers, alternative risk financing facilitators, brokers, consultants, accountants, loss control and environmental specialists, loss adjusters and may others will find the venue and the format of the European Risk Management Forum extremely conducive to the enhancement of existing business relationships with clients and the potential creation of new ones.

One final word:

Book the dates into your diary now! 23 to 27 October 1999.

Risk managers from anywhere in the world will be welcome, and those who attend will gain the benefit of being at the leading edge of European risk management activity.

Ina Barker is chair FERMA Risk Management Forum 1999. For early information and booking details about the Berlin 1999 FERMA Forum contact: Annie Gigon c/o SOCFI, Paris. Tel: (33) 1 44 88 2525. Fax: (33) 1 40 26 0444.