The term “premier” means very little these days, such is its liberal use in marketing literature. The Risk & Insurance Management Society (RIMS) annual conference, however, lives up to the old fashioned sense of the word. It is, just as its organisers state, the “premier risk management event.” The facts and figures are eloquent testimony. Attracting over 4,000 registrants, both novices and pros, the conference offers the widest range of educational and networking opportunities available plus, with over 400 exhibitors displaying the latest products and services, the RIMS exhibit floor is home to the largest gathering of industry service professionals in the world. It's no wonder that first-timer attendees are offered orientation services.

More than 30 industry sessions and 160 core educational sessions are on offer, making up a broad spectrum of learning opportunities. And it's not a simple case of revisiting last year's subject matter. Industry sessions have been coordinated by risk managers' peers with extensive expertise in their respective fields, while the educational sessions have been selected by the Conference Programming Committee from more than 1,100 entries based on their timeliness, relevancy and quality.

All good stuff, but how does an attendee go about taking it all in? As one Global Reinsurance contact points out, the audio recordings of many core educational sessions come in handy, while he gets “handy” with other attendees, especially the exhibitors. That's what the RIMS conference is all about: networking, and it's quite a network when you consider the numbers. Just as well there's so much activity. It should keep the calories at bay. A boxed lunch will be held in the exhibit hall on the Monday, a dessert reception will be held at the same venue on the Tuesday, and a brown bag lunch is in order on the Wednesday in an interactive, roundtable setting. Meanwhile, luncheons galore elsewhere and no doubt conspicuous “a la carte” consumption in the evenings, as clients and potential clients are entertained.

Usually, such an event sees attendees head home on the last day. Not so with RIMS. Friday morning's solution sharing sessions and information exchange brunch continue to attract the multitudes. Some say these activities alone are worth the registration fee and well worth the wait.

Conference highlights

If evidence was needed of the developing role of today's risk manager, the RIMS program is it. Everything from employee benefits to cyber commerce is under the spotlight. Ready, Aim... Fire! will discuss risk management strategies for dealing with corporate downsizing, including documentation, legal strategies, outplacement services and communication techniques.

CFOs Are From Mars, Risk Managers Are From Venus is for those unfortunates whose cfo is known to nod off during risk management reviews. The session will enable risk managers to connect with their cfo and improve effectiveness by learning to identify a cfo's “drivers,” align risk management strategy to support the cfo and communicate in terms understandable by a cfo/finance executive.

The Challenge of Communicating on a Global Insurance Program will discuss international insurance information sources available to risk managers, tools for the collection of overseas insurance information both internally and externally, and methods to assist in the control of multinational programs with subsidiaries and carriers.

Risk Manager Family Feud will be a fun, participatory, educational seminar tailored after the popular game show “Family Feud”. Two groups of risk managers will be selected to participate as contestants. The remaining audience will be separated and allowed to assist their side's “family of risk managers.”

Displayed on a large screen will be the “Family Feud Survey,” covering property insurance, business interruption, extra/expediting expenses, workers' comp, liability and legal issues. The MC will announce the topic and go to the “family” that wins the draw to provide the remaining answers. Points will be awarded for correct answers. If the “family” does not guess all the correct answers before receiving three strikes, the other “family” will have a chance to steal. After the survey answers are revealed, the panel will discuss and give further explanations of the answers, including use of real life examples.

The Goal of Crisis Management In The New Millennium - Technology Makes The Call is to discuss the application of artificial intelligence computer technology that manages emergencies on a real time basis to mitigate the impact of a disaster on the firm and public. Risk managers will learn how software can help crisis response teams manage key functions such as alerting the authorities about chemical spills, while advising emergency responders what to do, in real time, to minimize risk to the surrounding communities. Detailed analysis and “what if” scenarios can be quickly played out to determine high risk public safety issues and develop realistic contingency plans.

Cyberisk Management - Beyond 2000 will deal with “cyberliability”. Whether a firm is e-commerce based or has just acquired a web page, this session will explain the loss potential companies are now exposed to and the options available to control, mitigate, and transfer these risks.

Many risk managers are exposed to M&A issues when “it” happens. Mergers and Acquisitions and the Risk Manager will enable the attendee to understand the M&A process beforehand. M&A will be dissected as a buyer and seller. Common transaction types and typical M&A phases, including due diligence, will be covered. Case studies will explore transactions contracts, risk financing and transition issues. Emerging insurance products will also be discussed.

Risk Management Data - Information or Jabberwocky? will review the current state of data standards for risk management. Topics will include insurance data standards, the Public Risk

Database Project (PRDP) standard, and RIMS Committee activity.

All this and so much more. One thing is for sure. Attendees are guaranteed to sharpen their time management skills.

  • Valerie Denney is the North American editor of Global Reinsurance.