2018 Insurance CRO Forum

Three very different perspectives from a Strategist, a Board Director and an Innovator were presented at the annual Insurance CRO Forum at the Actuaries Institute.

The annual Insurance CRO Forum was held at the Actuaries Institute on Tuesday 6 March 2018. The focus of this year’s discussion was the interaction of risk management with strategy and innovation. The subject was discussed from three very different perspectives during the half-day forum – a Strategist, a Board Director, and an Innovator.

The forum was facilitated by Gavin Pearce,  CRO, icare (pictured below), who opened the forum with a formal welcome and Acknowledgement of Country. In his opening remarks, Gavin commented on the need for companies to be innovative – “if you’re not disrupting yourself, chances are someone else is.”


The forum consisted of three plenary sessions:

  • Plenary 1 was presented by Amy Barouch (General Manager of Strategy, icare) who discussed Strategy Creation.
  • Plenary 2 was a Director’s View by Lisa McIntyre (Independent Director, HCF & icare).
  • Plenary 3 was presented by Peter Bradd (CEO, Beanstalk Factory) who shared his views on innovation.

During the forum the Chatham House Rule was in effect. So, whilst we can’t disclose who said what, here are some of the highlights from the forum discussions:

  • Increasingly, the risk of doing something is much lower than the risk of doing nothing. In this day and age, standing still is unacceptable. We all need to embrace change and continuous improvement.
  • Innovating how risk management is done enables more successful business innovation:
    • Optimise your portfolio of innovation projects, don’t try and optimise each individual project or idea.
    • Use stage gate processes to weed out the innovations most likely to succeed and to confine risks whilst experimenting.
    • Ensure good governance processes are in place, including adherence to the Board’s Risk Appetite Statement.

  • There is a critical role for Risk Functions to play in enabling their organisations to successfully innovate:
    • Inform: conduct external analysis, provide thought leadership, etc.
    • Participate: get involved in steering committees, innovation labs, etc.
    • Enable: risk management should be the accelerator of innovation, not the hand brake!
  • A risk function does not have to be reactive to a strategy.
  • Risk/Strategy/Performance – organisations need all three connected and working well together.
  • Strong companies have:
    • Clear vision and aspiration
    • Strong culture
    • Trust (between management and board)

  • Some great quotes during the sessions:
    • “It takes courage to innovate and transform”
    • “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed”
    • “We don’t need out of the box thinking, we need a bigger box”
  • There are numerous ways of innovating:
    • Corporate accelerators
    • Corporate ventures
    • Open innovation (e.g. Kaggle)
    • Open innovation contests (e.g. hack-a-thons)
    • Skunk works (i.e. a SWAT Team injected into the business)
    • Labs
    • Platforms
    • Internal contests
    • Internal ideas platforms

The forum concluded at 1:00pm with a light lunch for those who didn’t have to rush back to their offices immediately.

Many thanks to the Organising Committee – Gavin Pearce, Catherine Dube and Liz Gemmell – for a very successful Forum.

CPD: Actuaries Institute Members can claim two CPD points for every hour of reading articles on Actuaries Digital.

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