A great deal of thought and preparation has gone into the staging of the first forum sponsored by the Federation of European Risk Management Associations on its own, as Ina Barker describes.

The Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA) enters a new, exciting and higher profile era with the launch of its biannual riskmanagement forum in Berlin from 24 to 27 October. But what challenges awaited FERMA with the change of venue and its decision to make the event a FERMA forum instead of the RIMS/FERMA Monte Carlo conference, as it was for so many years?

The script and programme had to be fresh and topical to attract delegates, hence the choice of “corporate governance – the new frontier for risk management”. There is hardly a more dynamic subject which gives risk managers the opportunity to deepen and broaden their role. It brings them into every dimension of the business and it means that risk advisers of all types can help their clients with even more innovative yet practical solutions.

The exhibition which accompanies the forum had to provide a backcloth of interest, variety and colourful ideas to guide risk managers in their future role. Particular emphasis was placed on encouraging new exhibitors who display and demonstrate true risk management services. These can range from technical, physical risk control to risk information exchange. At the same time such services need to be capable of operating at a pan European or preferably, worldwide level.

To ensure a strong element of relaxation and culture where delegates could network, feel at ease and be inspired, we needed to have appropriate scenery and environments. What better place than the Hamburger Bahnhof for the opening welcome reception? This former railway station has been reconstructed to give a very spacious and light environment housing an outstanding modern art collection. Another precious ingredient will be the concert of light, classical music on the Monday evening in the beautiful surroundings of the magnificent Schauschpielhaus. To expand knowledge in a practical sense, delegates have the opportunity to visit BEWAG, one of the world's most innovative, efficient, and environmentally friendly, co-generation plants for heat and power.

The programme was devised and designed, starting with a relook at FERMA's own vision, aims and values. Our aims were defined as being to widen and deepen the culture of risk management throughout Europe. FERMA must represent the needs and aspirations of the whole risk management “family”. We must listen to others and expand the risk management credo not just in those nine countries which currently form FERMA but beyond to central and Eastern Europe as well.

Our next task was to communicate. This meant not only between national associations but particularly getting our message out into the public arenathrough means of a new focussed PR strategy. Achieving a higher profile throughout the European press is not an easy task. Much hard work is needed both at national association and FERMA level, to build up relationships with journalists – but we are well underway.

A good performance needs an excellent production team and a cast of professional players. As chair of the FERMA risk management forum 99, it has been a privilege for me to have a programme committee consisting of representatives from the national associations who have worked so hard with so many aspects of the planning and organisation. In the giving and receiving of different cultural ideas and experiences from the varied European backgrounds, a unique richness and flavour has been brought into the event.

As we now approach the great day of the FERMA in Berlin forum performance, I would like to thank everyone involved – from our speakers, workshop moderators and presenters, the pre-conference course chair and leaders to musicians and all other players. But above all, thank you to the members of the programme Committee, the board of FERMA and our outside consultants, SOCFI, SHES, Quadrant and others without whose sterling work the show would not be on the road.

So to all delegates attending the FERMA risk management forum in Berlin, we are delighted to see you here. Enjoy the performance and I hope you feel you are taking away much of value. My feelings are best expressed in the words of Shakespeare's Prospero in The Tempest:

“...Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant, And my ending is despair, Unless I be relieved by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardon'd be, Let your indulgence set me free.”

Ian Barker is chair of the FERMA forum 99. She was previously executive director of the UK risk manager association, FERMA.