RIMS goes global

RIMS goes global – Up Front

Lori Widmer

As the 41st Annual RIMS Conference & Exhibition took shape in Chicago, risk managers were coming to the show with bigger concerns than corporate governance, terrorism risk or even exposures related to war.

As one risk manager put it, “Due to a layoff in my company last year, I have a huge EPL exposure, yet my Japanese board isn’t responding to the risks. In that country, EPL isn’t an issue like it is in the U.S.”

As she says, the company’s exposure will most likely be revealed if the pending litigation is decided in favor of one or more of the former employees.

“We’re looking at one suit in particular that, if the former employee wins, could be a significant hit. Yet I’d hate to think that this would be what it takes to get the board to understand the risk.”

The risk of conducting global business was more apparent among this year’s attendees. The emergence of a more global risk management population was evident. French, Spanish, Japanese and other languages were being spoken on the floor. RIMS itself acknowledged the global market place with an opening ceremony that included the national anthems of Canada, Japan and the United States.

The outgoing RIMS president, Chris Mandel, and current president Lance Ewing, spoke about the renewed focus on global risk management in those countries as well as Latin America.

“The number and types of risk are growing,” says Ewing. “Market risks, global risks, technology risks … RIMS will focus on our core competencies (in order to address these risks). What do we do well?”

Educational and professional development will be expanded, as will a stronger focus on technology issues and a drive for more members.

The fact that RIMS is recognizing the emergence of global risk was evident in all corners of McCormick Place.

Canadian press and European press, along with European vendors and the islands of Bermuda, Cayman and Barbados seemed to usher in the diversity that risk management will be addressing.

How the current war factors into the global equation is a short-term phenomenon, according to Alice Schroeder of Morgan Stanley. Schroeder, speaking in a separate session to a roomful of risk managers, says the whole market appears to be writing war risk.

“As soon as we said we were going into Iraq, they (the underwriters) ran to throw capital at the war risk exposure.

“The pricing in those lines isn’t anything close to what it would have been if there was a capacity shortage. There isn’t a capacity shortage,” she says.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Axon Group

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group