Posted on / by Helen Smith

A Brave New World presented in Harrogate at Airmic Conference

The pretty Georgian market town of Harrogate played host to the annual Airmic conference last week. The train from King’s Cross was crammed with delegates, which gave me an opportunity to start networking even before I arrived.

I chatted to an insurance buyer from a large global bank on the journey up. She was keen to meet markets underwriting her (sizeable) programme at the conference, as well as meeting other delegates and service providers. This set the tone for a very interesting and lively conference, on a much smaller scale than British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA), but in many ways all the better for that.

A relaxed, informative – but friendly – conference

The conference centre itself is slightly incongruous to its surroundings, being a very large, modern building in amongst the more traditional housing stock. It did, however, serve its purpose in providing an impressive auditorium from which panel debates and keynote speeches could be delivered and halls big enough to house the stands of those companies wishing to have a significant presence at the event. The conference had a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere than others I’ve attended, and I felt as if I’d seen everything and connected with a lot of interesting people by the end of the three days.

Challenging the industry in age of changing risk

Exhibitor at the 2019 Airmic conference
Exhibitor at the 2019 Airmic conference

Despite the genteel feel of this northern town, the ideas being exchanged this year were dynamic and disruptive. Airmic’s conference was titled “New World, New Solutions” and what I hadn’t appreciated until I attended the press conference was quite how varied and far-reaching Airmic is as an organisation in supporting and resourcing its members.

It really does a fantastic job listening and focussing in on the key issues in the industry and what its members need to do their jobs better and service clients more effectively.

This meant challenging the industry to think the unthinkable and consider risks they hadn’t even thought about as we advance through this fast-moving world.

Andrew Neil speaking at the 2019 Airmic conference
Andrew Neil at the 2019 Airmic conference




Airmic reveals the key issues ahead

This year, Airmic launched Vision 2020, which is a series of research papers into the key issues facing organisations, such as geopolitics, governance, data, threat monitoring and emerging risks. These were co-authored respectively by Willis Towers Watson, AIG, QBE, Control Risks and KPMG and they are part of Airmic’s study on the future of risk management.

This analysis ensures insurers and risk managers have the right information to rewire their organisations and secure the optimal skills, structures and agility to stay ahead of the changes sweeping through the market.

Emerging risks

Airmic was keen to highlight emerging risks as a theme and worked with KPMG to produce a report looking at intangible risks and also with Marsh. The Marsh report entitled ‘Emerging Risks, New World, New Solutions’ focussed on the challenges associated with how emerging risks are managed by organisations. Both pieces of work seek to re-calibrate the thinking within companies, from the board downwards, to ensure a better balance in considering traditional risks and those risks that are much harder to identify and quantify. These emerging risks are often those that just don’t make it onto the boardroom agenda but result in the biggest disruption for organisations.

A refreshing and thought-provoking conference was rounded off by a very interesting closing speech by the political commentator Andrew Neil as he gave us his thoughts on the emerging geopolitical risks in the world, from the tech wars between the US and China, unresolved Brexit negotiations and the Conservative leadership election. His prediction was a Boris Johnson victory and a second EU referendum… we won’t have to wait long now to see if that first assertion is correct and what the future possible ramifications will be, but I bet we won’t have considered them all!

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