Lee Coppack speaks to the new president of the Federation of European Risk Management Associations, Maurizio Castelli, about the organisation and its first independent forum.

Maurizio Castelli is by background an engineer who like many before him got into risk management somewhat by accident but now finds it a fascinating career. Director of group risk management for the Italian multi-national Pirelli in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Mr Castelli now has a two year mandate as president of a revitalised Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA).

His first goal is to consolidate what has been achieved so far, which includes the establishment for the first time of a permanent office for FERMA in Brussels and the appointment of an executive director, Florence Bindelle. “Now that we have done this, we are in a position to start some projects for FERMA on its own and not just in a co-ordinating role between the single national associations,” he explains.

There are two projects to start with, one in the field of education and the other in communication. In terms of education, FERMA is planning to assemble information on all the risk management courses available throughout Europe. From there, says Mr Castelli, FERMA aims to produce some guidelines on suitable education for European risk managers Armed with this work, FERMA can then develop links with universities to help them develop their syllabuses with a European approach. “We think as a professional association that education is a key issue to form future risk managers and to maintain existing people at the cutting edge,” he comments.

On communication, Mr Castelli says FERMA's first step will be the creation of a web site to establish a real pan-European network among individual risk managers. “We would like individual members to know that they are also members of a European federation, so that if they have a problem which is not strictly local, they can communicate via the executive office in Brussels or the web site.”

By this means, he hopes that individual risk managers who are not active in their national associations will become more aware of FERMA and that national associations who are not already members of FERMA will be attracted to join.

The forum
This year marks the first time the European association has sponsored the forum on its own, and it chose corporate governance as a theme. A major issue in the United Kingdon, corporate governance has been of only limited interest among risk managers in some European countries, but says Mr Castelli that is no reason it should not be discussed at the forum. On the contrary, he says; it will grow dramatically in importance in other countries, and FERMA should be forward looking.The issue in May 1998 of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) principles has stimulated much wider discussion about corporate governance, including in countries like Italy and Spain where it was not previously an issue. Says Mr Castelli: “Until about a year ago,sone people barely knew what corporate governance was,” he acknowledges. “Now it is being talked about a lot. It will be a big issue.”

Corporate governance, says Mr Castelli, provides opportunities for risk management to demonstrate its real value. “It is a real opportunity to have people understand that risk management can be much more than insurance buying, and the type of know-how, experience and mental attitude it entails can be extremely useful.”

Beyond corporate governance, the new FERMA president sees plenty of issues which can have pan-European interest to risk managers. “Even if it is happening slowly, the European Union and European Parliament and playing amore important role, and their directives which then affect national laws and regulations are having an impact on issues that concern risk managers, such as insurance, liability, contractual obligations and safety and security.”

He cites as an example, the freedom of services directives which created the single market in insurance. Today, it should be possible to have a single pan-European motor fleet policy but it is still very difficult to achieve. “When it works, it is fantastic,” he says, and so the experience of someone who has succeeded could be extremely useful to other risk managers.

“With all these new developments, FERMA is really establishing itself as the voice for European risk management, and as an organisation we intend to see risk management firmly embedded into European culture,” Mr Castelli concludes.

Lee Coppack is editor of the international risk edition of Global Reinsurance and co-editor of the publication. E-mail: lee.coppack@globalreinsurance.com.