7th CRO Assembly - The path to future growth

Date: 16 - 17 Nov 2011
Location: Centre for Global Dialogue

Video interviews

Paul Wright, Senior Director IIF:
Implications of cross-sectoral industry reforms
Jean-Christophe Menioux, CRO AXA:
Handling global solvency with care
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Britta Rendlen, Head of Sustainability Risk Management, Swiss Re:
Reputational risks and the sustainability framework
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Terri Vaughan, CEO NAIC:
Implications of accounting on the insurance industry
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Luis Maurette, CEO Latin America, Willis:
Keys to success in the Brazilian market
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Nouriel Roubini, Professor NYU:
Current risks in the emerging market landscape
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David Cole, CRO Swiss Re, and Patrick Liedtke, Managing Director, The Geneva Association:
Risk management: facing challenges, finding solutions
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Sir John Scarlett, former head of MI6:
Geopolitical risk in changing times
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Bennett Golub, CRO BlackRock:
Emerging risk and the social contract
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Myriam Cavelty Dunn, Head of New Risk Research, Center for Security studies, ETH:
Cybersecurity: an international effort
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George Magnus, Senior Economic Adviser, UBS:
Addressing rising longevity
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Expert Interviews


Audio Interviews

Thierry Léger: How Swiss Re helps clients form effective Risk Management policies
Clarence Wong: Regulatory developments in Asia
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David Bresch: Sustainability in Risk Management
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Swiss Re’s CRO David Cole praises quality of speakers at CRO Assembly

Organised by Swiss Re, the Geneva Association and the CRO Forum, the 7th annual Chief Risk Officer Assembly drew to a close on November 17. Held at Swiss Re’s Centre for Global Dialogue, it brought together insurance industry CROs and leading academic experts to debate how best to address current trends and emerging issues in risk management.

Wrapping up, Swiss Re CRO David Cole drew attention to the high quality of the presentations and of the ensuing dialogue between participants. He said he was sure it had been a valuable learning experience for all participants.

The conference focused on four broad themes: emerging risks, emerging markets, regulatory developments and challenges along the path to future growth.

Unstable national economies a major risk

One theme underlying many of the discussions during the conference was the debt crisis in the eurozone. Indeed, in an e-vote an overwhelming majority of participants believed that unstable national economies represented a major risk for the insurance sector.

Speakers analysed an array of emerging risks in the globalised economy, including the possibility of a potential breakdown in the social contract as a result of the economic crisis. Pointing to demonstrations in Europe and the United States, more than one presenter said that buy-in to the social order could be undermined by citizens who felt they had been treated unfairly by the system.

Ways of addressing the longevity challenge

The economic implications of ageing populations and declining birth rates were also highlighted and it was pointed out that financial service companies were in a good position to bridge the gap left by public-sector provisions for old age. Among other proposed solutions to the longevity financing challenge were keeping older people in employment longer, stronger female participation in the labour market and schemes to promote life-long skill building.

Need to tread carefully in some emerging markets

Among numerous geo-political risks, conference participants also heard about those emanating from the political upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East. The audience heard that it would be a mistake to equate the so-called Arab Spring with a democratic awakening similar to what had happened in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s. The Arab Spring developments lacked a clear direction and their eventual outcome was unclear. The advice to companies wanting to do business in emerging markets: tread carefully and always stay well-informed.

Several speakers drew attention to the risks for emerging markets from the financial crises in the U.S. and the eurozone.  It was emphasised that because of the pronounced political diversity among emerging market countries, a one-size-fits-all strategy was certainly not advisable.

Regulatory linkages

On the regulatory front, more than one speaker said the up-coming Solvency II reform of Europe’s insurance sector was a real opportunity to strengthen the resilience of the insurance industry. It was also argued that there was an urgent need for a globally accepted solvency regime for insurers. It was pointed out that there were important regulatory linkages between the insurance and the banking industries, and that regulators in each sector could perhaps even learn from one another when it came to reform initiatives.

Future challenges

The concluding segment of the conference comprised breakout sessions on topics such as reputational risk in insurance, implications of the systemic risk debate and the cross-sector implications of regulatory changes.  On the topic of reputational risk, listeners were told that Swiss Re examines very carefully the risks that could be inherent in the business relationships that it has, such as climate-change, human-rights or environmental issues.

David Cole summarises key takeaways