Alison Craig says risk management in Europe is developing its own identify and previews European insurance and risk management conferences this autumn.

This year marks a coming of age for European risk management. The Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA) is planning to establish for the first time a central office, which will be based in Brussels, and it has also created a new post of executive manager. Florence Bindelle who has been working as a reinsurance liability portfolio manager, is the first person to occupy the job. Born in Lisbon, Ms Bindelle was educated in Spain and Brussels and is fluent in several languages.

FERMA also has a new president, Maurizio Castelle, director of risk management for Pirelli in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He has taken over as president from Hugh Loader, who held the post for five years.

Another sign of FERMA's increasing maturity is that this October marks the first independent staging of its biennial forum. It will have the encouragement, but unlike previous years, not the sponsorship of the US risk management organisation, RIMS. The forum is also moving away from its traditional venue in Monte Carlo, to Berlin, where the event will take place from 24-26 October. Appropriately, there will be an interactive presentation at the forum on the reconstruction of Berlin and its implications for project risk management.

Corporate governance
The theme of the conference, Corporate Governance: the new frontier for risk management, is certainly one which leapfrogs over any notion that the risk manager exists just to buy insurance. Alistair Ross Goobey, chief executive and chief investment officer of Hermes Pensions Management and a regular broadcaster and speaker on City affairs in the United Kingdom, will start the discussion with a talk on the added value of corporate governance to the investor. Following him is David Pimm of PricewaterhouseCoopers on the subject of corporate governance, corporate risk management and audit; the rise of the integrated approach across Europe.

The keynote speaker on the second day of the conference, Moritz Suter, deputy chairman and ceo of Crossair, Basel, will continue with the theme of corporate governance, asking if it is purely an academic issue or whether it can be lived with in daily business. A roundtable discussion will follow in which Mr Suter and a number of European risk managers will give their thoughts on what the role will be for risk managers in three to five years and what added value service must risk managers give to their organisations to fulfil the requirements of corporate governance. Mr Castelli will chair the roundtable and give the conclusions of discussions on corporate governance at the end of the forum.

With its office in Brussels, Italian president and independent conference in Berlin, FERMA is obviously moving its emphasis away from the anglophone roots of risk management. Corporate governance is certainly an issue of interest to risk managers in the UK, to the extent that current chairman of the UK association AIRMIC, Mark Butterworth, together with two previous chairmen, Richard Reddaway and Tony Benson, have prepared a guide on the subject for risk managers. Risk managers from continental Europe, where the corporate structure is different and there is greater emphasis on stakeholder value, may have considerably different approaches to contribute at the forum.

MCE conference

The issue of corporate governance will also come up at the annual international insurance and risk management conference organised by Management Centre Europe (MCE) under the title Risk management in the year 2000 and beyond . . . are you ready? Ken Hall of J&H Marsh & McLennan will tackle the subject of risk and stakeholders' expectations. As the organisers comment, pressure from shareholders today is immense, and together with new governance and compliance requirements worldwide, it is forcing many companies to rethink their approach to risk, from risk identification to risk financing.

Other topics for discussion certainly carry the forward looking theme, such as IT related risks beyond Y2K, risks associated with doing business in emerging markets, an integrated view of managing operational and financial risks, and the topical issue of defending corporate reputation. The first keynote speaker is Norman Barham, vice chairman of J&H Marsh & McLennan, who will give his view of how risk management will look in five years, the extent to which the insurance market has anticipated these trends and the role of risk management as an essential component in top management.

Professor Rhona Flin of Aberdeen Business School, is the second keynote speaker, and she will consider leadership skills and crisis management, contrasting the skills needed to handle emergency situations with those required to manage successfully and take risks under pressures which are regarded as normal.The MCE conference has become a fixture on the annual insurance and risk management calendar. This is the 28th such conference. It is taking place in Rome on 29-30 October.

Alison Craig is an insurance writer and regular contributor to Global Reinsurance. E-mail: alison.craig@insurance-research.com