Tag Archives: enterprise risk management

5 Risk Management Mistakes to Avoid

While many businesses attempt some form of risk management, few have a flawless approach. And because of the dynamic nature of changing markets and other variables, risk management programs need to be regularly updated or they, themselves, become at risk. Risk calculations based on gravity and likelihood are relatively simple, but simplistic frameworks can’t prepare an organization for surprises down the road.

All organizations should undertake an ERM (enterprise risk management) strategy, projecting into their long-term future where risks might arise, but risk management is complicated, and many organizations are making mistakes. Here are five that can cost your business.

1) Reinventing the Wheel

Many organizations try to create their own risk management framework rather than drawing from the wealth of experience already out there. Yes, your business is uniquely positioned, but a strong risk management framework will take contextual variables into account. By attempting to implement your own risk management framework you’re rejecting experience and expertise developed by professionals, leaving yourself exposed to gaps in your framework that allow risk to creep in.

COSO (Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission) and AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accounts) have both published industry standard ERM frameworks from which your business can draw. Don’t reinvent the wheel when approaching risk management.

2) Ignoring IT Red Flags

Whilst IT departments are not best placed to lead ERM processes, the insight of your IT department is invaluable when building a risk management strategy, so IT professionals should be viewed as equal partners rather than subordinate teams. This configuration empowers your IT department to contribute valuably to the process of risk management.

“IT is uniquely placed to identify metrics and offer data and analysis that could easily be overlooked from other perspectives,” says Ethan McLaughlin, a risk management expert at State of Writing and Boomessays. “If your organization is conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, IT departments are an important place to start examining where risks may be present.”

3) Considering Identified Risks “Managed”

While risks need to be identified before they can be managed and mitigated, too many organizations stop after the first step. By listing potential risks to your organization you have done nothing to reduce their likelihood, and if you aren’t putting robust procedures in place then your strategy is nothing more than a sop.

What’s more, a large proportion of ERM is identifying strategic advantages possessed by your organization. Leveraging these advantages is as important as mitigating risks, and by capitalizing strategically on your position you can place yourself ahead of competitors.

See also: How Risk Management Differs From Insurance

4) Letting Expectations Get Out of Control

ERM does not provide a crystal ball, and sometimes situations unfold in genuinely unpredictable ways. For example, in 2020, risk management frameworks are scrambling to adapt to a radically changed economy in the face of a global pandemic. Judging ERM based solely on its accuracy misses the point.

Don’t let expectations get out of hand, as otherwise faith can be lost in risk management as a whole when the unexpected does occur. This will leave your business vulnerable to any number of things in the future.

5) Keeping Risk Management in-House

We all know that blindspots can appear when we’re too close to an issue, but many organizations consider risk management something that can be handled by internal auditors. In fact, an objective approach is essential, and an external eye can identify risk in seemingly innocuous procedures, something that those with a high degree of familiarity might have overlooked.

“Of course, details are essential in risk management so the in-house team should work closely with external auditors,” says Martin Franklin, a writer at Liahelp and OXessays. “This provides checks and balances that reduce risk and protect your organization in the long run.”

Wrapping Up

Risk management is an essential process that protects organizations from foreseeable fluctuations in future events. Key to the success of risk management are an established ERM, and working closely across departments while introducing an external eye. Putting a positive spin on circumstances is human nature — and provides a platform for success. Risk management enables this perspective to drive success, rather than leaving you open to catastrophic failure.

Time to Move Climate Risk Center-Stage

Insurers are not big polluters in their own right. Nor do they typically have lots of physical assets at risk, except indirectly through investment portfolios either now or in the future when economic transition raises the possibility of stranded assets.

Yet the impacts of climate on insurance operations are only too evident. Losses from more frequent flood events and other climate-related events, such as the wildfires that have ravaged parts of the U.S. and Australia in recent months; changing attitudes toward insuring and investing in high carbon industries; burgeoning regulation and moves toward mandatory climate risk disclosure; and external ESG (environmental, social, governance) ratings that increasingly reflect assessments of climate risk management – are all changing insurers’ risk landscapes.

With the PRA letter to U.K. insurers also setting the expectation that “firms should have fully embedded their approaches to managing climate-related financial risks by the end of 2021,” it’s relatively unsurprising then that climate change has been rising rapidly up the rankings of the perceived most dangerous risks to an insurance enterprise. In the most recent Willis Towers Watson Dangerous Risks Survey, for example, climate change rose from 53rd position in 2019 to 9th in 2020.

On the other hand, the up-side should not be ignored: Climate risk also brings new insurable opportunities and insurance can often be an enabler of innovation, allowing new technologies to be developed as risks are shared. Insurers that are taking steps now to better understand the risks and opportunities and planning for changes in their mid- to long-term strategies will be better placed to deal with them. These insurers will have built up a body of data, tools, analytical capabilities, processes and frameworks, with experience of learning and refinement, to avoid having to play catch up with the rapidly evolving regulatory environment as our collective knowledge of climate impacts grows.

Climate risk is truly multi-dimensional

Much as loss events grab the headlines, climate risk for insurers is truly multi-dimensional (see Figure 1). Potential ramifications that may not be grabbing the headlines yet could have potentially devastating consequences in years to come, such as sea level rise or threats that destabilize fragile states. Equally, new pathways for mitigating climate risk and resilience that don’t exist now could offer respite from threats and open up business opportunities.

Figure 1. The multi-dimensionality of climate risk

The need for a multi-dimensional risk approach simply reflects this expanding diversity of climate risk drivers.

Even if we confine those to the current day, from one angle there are market factors, such as regulation and investors’ lengthening ESG agendas. From another angle, there is the societal pressure to consume less and reduce environmental impact. Then there is the role of science and advances in climate understanding and adaptation, together with mitigation technologies and what these tell us about the need to adapt collective behavior. Notably, many of the world’s central banks and supervisors, through the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), have already upgraded their view on the financial risks from climate change. The risks from climate change are now increasingly seen as having “distinct characteristics,” which means these risks need to be “considered and managed differently.”

The potential impacts on operations are similarly diverse, not the least whether factors such as public policy and regulation may affect insurability of certain segments. Add in underwriting issues (risk assessment, pricing sufficiency/competitiveness), regulatory compliance (including solvency impact), capital considerations (risk accumulation for example) and emerging risks (and opportunities) – and you have a veritable cocktail of risk dimensions to consider.

ERM implications

In many ways, however, these risks are not new per se; they map onto existing categories of financial and non-financial risk such as credit, market, business, operation and legal risks that insurers have been managing for many years. But taking into account the vagaries of climate, the risks do present new challenges.

Specifically for ERM programs, they raise issues and questions that require explicit consideration:

  • Governance, including the board’s role in providing oversight of climate risk responses and defining management responsibility for climate risk and ESG integration.
  • Risk identification, identifying the key channels through which climate risks can affect the company and how these are articulated and monitored on a continuing basis.
  • Risk appetite, including forming a view as to whether climate risk should be considered as a separate element or part of aggregate risk and how this will be implemented in practice.
  • Risk measurement and reporting, including how to incorporate climate risk into financial risk models and reports and deciding on relevant metrics for decision making, a key element of Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) requirements, for example.
  • Investment – how does the investment approach meet ESG objectives and respond to investor pressure to reduce or eliminate funding of high-carbon industries, for example?
  • Reputation risk, including identifying public communications needs and a strategy for communicating a firm’s climate and ESG response.

And because all in turn feed through to strategic business considerations such as earnings, product development, long-term direction and acquisitions and divestments, having a solid understanding within the business of the connections between physical, transition and liability risks is increasingly essential. This also means that the risk and governance frameworks need to be holistic and that each aspect cannot be treated in isolation.

See also: An Early Taste of Climate Change Disrupting Insurance

Devil is in the details

Conceptually, this all probably makes sense. Where it starts to get trickier is getting into the long weeds of risk impact and mitigation. For that, quantification is key.

This requires proven analytics tools and methods that are constantly being refreshed to reflect the latest science and predictive climate change scenario datasets and the expertise to provide the context of how business decisions can affect potential futures. Typically, quantification will also entail a collective, systematic and open data collection initiative to capture appropriate data to represent the key risk-related attributes of assets and, equally importantly, to include the valuations needed to feed through into balance sheet and other decision-making views.

Examples of the types of outputs needed will include hazard and climate risk scoring and mapping, determination of hazard- and climate-adjusted financial losses and advanced modeling of current and future climate risks. And beyond the numbers, transparency of models, scenarios and parameters is also key to the credibility and flexibility of the approach.

Our view is that there are some key analytical building blocks in helping build understanding of climate risk. Even if these may represent a kind of analytical nirvana at the moment, principally due to lack of data, there are options. Drawing parallels with emerging cyber risk, many insurers relied on scenario analysis and a sort of risk disclosure statement to not only quantify risks but also to set risk appetite metrics:

  1. Identify hazards – review of the existing portfolio for exposure to climate and natural catastrophe perils to establish the hazard levels.
  2. Quantify current climate risk for key perils – modeling of the current portfolio of risks, taking into account the vulnerability of assets and the level of hazard with reference to past events.
  3. Quantify future climate risk for key perils – modeling of future portfolios of risks for key perils at different times (e.g. 2030, 2050) and climate development scenarios. This should also consider the connections between perils – compounding and cascading risks are difficult to model, but they are the real world.
  4. Identify opportunities to mitigate climate risk – identification and assessment of loss drivers and mitigation opportunities to help reduce the financial loss potential of climate change.
  5. Determine transition risk and opportunities – evaluation of potential transition routes in line with modeling and taking steps to embed them within the risk framework.
  6. Quantify transition risks – through breakdown of the top transition risks by region/climate scenarios.

As they become armed with this sort of information, insurers should be able to identify the regions and perils that are driving climate risk now and how this distribution could change. Critically, this capability will help to quantify and reduce the cost of climate risk and enable insurers to feed the results into reviewing and updating the risk appetite and management frameworks on a regular basis.

Given the evolving investment focus on the “social contract” and sustainable returns, the capability will also be increasingly important for being able to inform potential investors of both the impact of climate change on an organization and steps being taken by the business to reduce its climate impact.

This need has been accelerated by recent regulatory moves focused around reporting and disclosure, including proposals and consultations in some countries to make TCFD reporting mandatory sooner rather than later. Add to this the idea that COVID-19 may accelerate the broader appetite for ESG as financial markets look to build resilience to systemic risks, and there is an even stronger case for enhancing understanding and response.

The upside is that the positive reputational impacts of disclosure, enforced or otherwise, are likely to be more far-reaching than just compliance – working through this process provides a holistic stress test of strategic decision making and company direction.

Eye to the future

So where might the gaps lie? To be truly strategic, thinking about climate risk needs to properly address current climate risks and project five, 10 and 20 years into the future, at least. That means developing the climate trajectory scenarios and metrics (the areas incidentally where insurers say they expect to need most help, according to our TCFD survey) that are increasingly being demanded by various stakeholders to assess a company’s climate transition plans and contribution.

See also: COVID-19 Is No Black Swan

Not all companies will be equally affected, but it’s apparent that, in relatively quick time, climate will have to be a central component of ERM and strategic direction. Those running ERM programs at insurers are uniquely placed to ensure their companies are prepared to meet those rising and multi-faceted expectations of investors, regulators, employees, customers and other stakeholders.

Embedding climate risk into existing frameworks and ensuring boards are taking a strategic approach to the changes that are already happening, and those to come, will put companies in a position to deal more effectively with the threats and embrace the opportunities of a future low-carbon economy .

Perspectives on Risk Culture Building

If you are still trying to identify all the risks you are exposed to within the context of your business or spend endless hours converting historic data into useless risk reports in an effort to mitigate as much risk as possible for a green light on the road to taking less risk (for less reward); if you are spending a fortune on controls and the digging of trenches for your lines of defense… fear no more!

The Radical Risk Management process is here, and the future is bright for those who choose to go through the disruption of dumping the outdated thinking, concepts, models and processes — things like the risk management “process” that is based on the assumption that it is possible to identify all the risks you are exposed to and then follow a dedicated process of mitigating all those risks as well as ideas like “Green is Good” and the three, four or, even worse, five “lines of defense.”

The management of risk is a mental process, not a technical process of data gathering, evaluation and reporting at consistent intervals with an expectation of a different outcome, or even improvement. Those who do nothing will just be exploited by those who change and get better at the management of risk.

This radical process involves only four components: Situational Awareness, Mental Simulation, Naturalistic Decision-Making and, finally, Response Execution. 

These are built around key elements of an effective risk culture, namely: Risk Intelligence gathered from everywhere (not just last quarter’s outdated risk report), a Risk Nervous system through which this information can flow everywhere in the business (not a process of sanctification where reporting gets better the higher it goes) and all employees having the Competencies and skills to manage the risks associated with their jobs on a daily basis to ultimately build sustainable competitive advantage for the organization (no levels of assurance, squadrons of policemen or lines of defense; there is nothing to defend against).

Risk Intelligence

“Information is anything that can be known, regardless of how it is discovered. Intelligence refers to information that meets the stated or understood needs of [the users] and has been collected, processed and narrowed to meet those needs. Intelligence is a subset of the broader category of information. Intelligence and the entire process by which it is identified, obtained, and analyzed respond to the needs of [users]. All intelligence is information; not all information is intelligence” –Mark M. Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy (from Special Warfare Bulletin, JFK Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Bragg.)

In an effective risk culture, people care enough to think about the risks associated with their jobs before they make decisions on a daily basis.

In the ultimate risk culture, every person acts as a risk manager and will constantly evaluate, control and optimize risks to make informed decisions and build sustainable competitive advantage for the organization.

Success depends on the levels of accountability you drive in your organization and the time and effort you put into building an effective risk culture. Do not even attempt this if you are going to keep a process of making risk decisions in committees where these decisions are “syndicated” without anybody taking any accountability. That will not work in the Radical Risk Management process!

There is also no need to employ consultants to help you with this. I could never anyway understand why organizations would pay outsiders to come in and gather ideas from their staff and convert these into PowerPoint presentations they sell back to the organization. There is no blueprint of one-size-fits-all for the Radical Risk Management process; you have to build the unique process in your organization, based on the underlying corporate culture and organizational structure and focusing on driving both the behaviors you want to encourage and the behaviors you want to avoid.

You need to take each of the four components and develop these within the context of your business strategy, goals and objectives. If a risk will not prevent you from reaching your business goals, don’t worry about it; you can never identify all the risks you are exposed to, the key factor is how your employees will respond to a situation of risk in real time. Business is not a game, and business decisions based on last quarter’s risk report are not such a good idea in real life, there is no reset button!

See also: Adios to ‘3 Lines of Defense’ Risk Model

Let us briefly look at the four components:

Situational Awareness Is:

  • “The perception of the elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning and the projection of their status in the near future,” as defined in Endsley’s model of Situational Awareness.
  • “Skilled behavior that encompasses the processes by which task-relevant information is extracted, integrated, assessed and acted upon” (Kass, Herschler, & Companion, 1991).
  • “Continuous extraction of environmental information, integration of this information with previous knowledge to form a coherent mental picture and the use of that picture in directing further perception and anticipating future events” (Dominguez, 1994).

Situational awareness is having an accurate understanding of our surroundings — where we are, what happened, what is happening, what is changing and what could happen; knowing what’s going on so you can figure out what to do, collecting information from your surroundings and situation to improve your decision making and circumstances by:

  • Using your senses (sight, smell, sound, taste and touch)
  • Monitoring the messages that others are providing through their behavior and communications
  • Being attentive to environmental circumstances that may indicate challenges, opportunity or danger

Reticular Activating System

A pathway in your brain that:

  • Filters incoming information
  • Turns on the “pay attention” button
  • Expands your intuition
  • Improves the message system between your subconscious brain and your conscious brain

Levels of awareness

  • Tuned Out
  • Relaxed Awareness
  • Focused Awareness
  • High Alert
  • Incapacitated

Mental Simulation is our mind’s ability to imagine taking a specific action and simulating the probable result before acting. Anticipating the results of our actions improves our ability to solve new problems. Mental Simulation relies on our memory, learned via perception and experience. (Josh Kaufman, The Personal MBA)

There are a number of things you can do to minimize the perceptual analysis. The first is doing exactly what you are doing at this moment. You are thinking! Become aware of the possibilities and think about them. Sudden situations of risk and the likely adrenaline dump are not things we are used to or comfortable with. By thinking about our reactions, by cognitively dealing with the possibilities of outcomes, we take the first step in managing the risk response.

Mental Simulation includes running imagery of the situation and the actions to achieve outcomes. Imagery is the set of mental visual pictures of oneself proceeding through a series of actions. Imagery can go beyond just pictures and incorporate the other senses, as well. Research into the use of imagery indicates that it has positive effects, including improving self-confidence, task completion, concentration and coping. Effective use of the imagery technique has seven elements: physical, environment, task, timing, learning, emotion and perspective (PETTLEP: Dave Smith, Caroline Wright, Amy Allsopp, and Hayley Westhead, “It’s All in the Mind: PETTLEP-based Imagery and Sports Performance,” Journal of Applied Sport Psychology 19/1 (2007)

Naturalistic Decision Making 

Decision making involves assessment and choosing a course of action. Decision making requires an understanding of the situation and controlled thinking. The situation determines the urgency of the decision, risks and limits of action.

The naturalistic decision making (NDM) framework emerged as a means of studying how people make decisions and perform cognitively complex functions in demanding, real-world situations. These include situations marked by limited time, uncertainty, high stakes, team and organizational constraints, unstable conditions and varying amounts of experience. Every business in today’s marketplace operates under these conditions, and practicing this based on last month’s risk report can be futile.

Mindfulness is a key element in decision making. Mindfulness is the idea that one should be present in the moment and acknowledge his or her own feelings, thoughts and sensations. Arguably, mindfulness is linked to situational awareness. Research suggests that mindfulness decreases accidents and mistakes while increasing memory and creativity. Researchers also assert that mindfulness can decrease stress and even increase a person’s general health. Additionally, recent research into mindfulness showed that it could actually change the brain physically for the better. This research indicated that mindfulness could increase the density of brain matter in the anterior cingulate cortex and the hippocampus, resulting in better attention, self-regulation, thinking flexibility, reduced stress and increased memory.

See also: Claims and Effective Risk Management

Response Execution

Once these steps are complete and a response has been selected; the response, or action, must be executed. Correct and effective execution requires smooth and timely coordination to achieve the desired result of optimizing the risk to get maximum benefit for the organization. The availability of resources also affects a response, and inadequate attention results in ineffective execution. 

Peak Response Execution is an action of optimal cognitive, emotional and physical functioning. Cognitively, people are at their peak when they have focused attention, ignoring unimportant things and allocating brain power to the task at hand. War fighters performing at their peak can better assess the situation, make decisions and perform the right tasks at the right time. Additionally, individuals performing at their peak are less likely to succumb to stress and choke when it counts.

That is it! You have to research each of these four components and apply your learning to your organization to build a Radical Risk Management process in your organization. With no blueprint, there is nothing to implement, and there is also no standard. (I hope somebody will not try to create a standard for Radical Risk Management and a whole industry of three-day certification courses to try and certify Radical Risk Management Practitioners).

The way forward: You can take the concept and go forward at your own pace and own target, as long as you use the process outline graphic with due reference. Alternatively, you can steal the concept and develop it further for your own commercial gain, but “chickens always come home.” 

Adios to ‘3 Lines of Defense’ Risk Model

In this age of disruption, all those organizations that spent many years and lots of cash to dig beautiful trenches for their useless Three Lines of Defense are being seriously damaged. These organizations are now left needing even more effort, to fill up their trenches and get out on the battlefield of real business.

R.I.P., Three Lines of Defense model (the three being: operational managers; risk managers and compliance functions; and internal auditors). Your creators saw a tiny speck of light, but millions are left without defense, and the trenches are in shambles. Sadly, your ghost will haunt many for a long time. They still have three lines, but these are now so blurred that organizations must be extremely careful not to kill their own front-line fighters, a situation much worse than running around in the old trenches. 

The model turned to a story of failed backward innovation — making something useless even more useless…… and that in the middle of the age of disruption.

As Michael Volkov recently said: “The IIA’s revised model [for the Three Lines of Defense] should be ignored and relegated to the ash heap of bad ideas.”

The elephant in the room is actually a grey rhino, not a black swan; it is time for risk practitioners to learn the lessons. Time to wake up to the reality that an outdated risk management process of steps to Identify, Analyze, Evaluate, Treat and Monitor the Risk, together with beautifully crafted RAG reports linked to a bunch of risk-mitigating responses, are of no use, and that following any standard or framework contributes nothing to the actual management of risk. The effective management of risk depends on the risk management skills of the front line and the decisions made by them in every situation of risk that they encounter.

It is time for auditors to get away from the management of risk, far away — and to stay away. By the time anything gets to their line, it is too late anyway; all they can do is to issue a finding, implying that they “found” something. I have never seen an auditor resuscitate a dead business. Lately, we see more cases where they actually contributed to the death of organizations through a lack of diligence and susceptibility to corruption.

What a pity that the hours of heated, heat map-driven debates in the risk committee meetings on whether something should have been red, amber or green at the end of last month (or, even worse, last quarter); came to …..nothing! 

See also: COVID-19: Technology, Investment, Innovation

The dominant personalities glaring at risk reports created from historic data, with their thinking clouded by unconscious biases, also made the syndication of decisions in these meetings so much more difficult. The hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil committee members who were mostly dedicated to their mobile phones during these debates are still going with the flow. Just like dead fish.

We also learned that “tested” business continuity plans are of very little value; no disaster will follow your plan. Success lies in the way each and every employee will respond to the situation of risk on D-day.

It is time for risk practitioners to grab the bull by the horns and learn this elephant-size lesson that the only way forward is building an effective risk culture and teaching everyone in the company radical risk management skills.

Claims and Effective Risk Management

The cost of claims has been at the heart of Total Cost of Risk (TCOR) since even before the inception of risk management as a separate function. The sheer magnitude of losses, insurable or not, defines so much of what risk managers focus on and tends to be what they report on most often, as well. The nature of mature and, by inference, effective risk management programs has claim management as a key focus. While risk maturity is directly correlated with risk effectiveness, this latter term encompasses a much broader perspective on things that matter. 

Not surprisingly, many components of risk management maturity have some connection to effective claim management. Accordingly, it is appropriate to understand what these components are and how they dovetail with a more comprehensive view into effective risk management. Admittedly, this perspective relates most to the traditional practice of risk management, focused on hazard risk, but failure in this realm will likely point to failure in other areas of risk management.

Components of Risk Discipline 

To instill risk discipline, and, by extension, maturity into claim management, one must set the tone for effectiveness across the spectrum of risk management activities and significantly feed overall risk management performance. This tone will influence the ability of risk leaders to act as “trusted advisers” to organizational decision makers. This should be a key goal for risk leaders, critical to long-term effectiveness and functional sustainability.

The starting point for this subject is two key things. First, how one defines “risk” and drives a consensus among key stakeholders about that definition. Claims are, of course, the outgrowth of risk and exposure. This direct relationship is the essence of why claims and effective claims management have a direct relationship to effective risk management. Whether this aspect of the discipline gets done by insurers (as part of the insurance contract), insureds (as a part of a self-administered claim operation) or through third parties (independent adjusters, third party administrators etc.) makes little difference. Effective claim management feeds effective risk management.

The second issue is both which risks are your focus and where on the loss curve they fall. This may sound simple, but the reality is that many risk leaders have responsibilities for only a portion of the risks that organizations face; often only the insurable risks. If that’s the case, the need to focus on claim management is clear; one leads to the other.

The Basics of Effective Risk Management Maturity

If you are a risk leader with broad accountability for risks, then the first question of “what is a risk to your firm?” requires total clarity. For the purposes of this article, a good definition of risk is “uncertainty” as it relates to the accomplishment of objectives. This simple definition captures the most central element of concern — uncertainty. However, the real challenge is determining the amount of uncertainty (such as frequency/likelihood), as well as the level of impact or severity. Each risk leader must make this choice and get it validated by his or her organization.

While many leaders focused on hazard risk look at risks at actuarially “expected” levels of loss, the challenge is how far out on the tail one should manage. While the possibility of loss becomes increasingly remote as you move out toward the tail of the curve, the impact of events becomes more destructive. Because the magnitude of loss in this realm can be catastrophic, the importance of both preventing and mitigating these events and their impact becomes critical. Central to after-loss mitigation is the claim management process. Related key questions that every risk leader must answer include:

  • What matters more to your organization: likelihood or impact, or are they equal?
  • What level of investigation should you apply to less likely risks?
  • How do we apply typically limited resources to remotely likely risks?
  • Do you have a consensus among key stakeholders as to what risks to focus on and how?
  • Do you have or need an emerging risk identification process?
  • Do you have a consensus on and clear understanding of how you define risk in your organization?
  • Have you educated your organization on the correlations between losses, claims and risk effectiveness?

These questions are the starting point for ensuring risk management maturity. From your answers to these questions, you can chart your course for what this will mean to your firm. The answers will define the process elements of maturity that will be needed to achieve your desired state. But we need to define what risk maturity is to track progress toward this state and to ensure that stakeholders are aligned around the chosen components necessary to get there. Understanding the attributes of claims and risk maturity includes:

  • Managing exposures to specifically defined appetite and tolerances;
  • Management support for the defined risk culture that ties directly to the organizational culture;
  • Ensuring disciplined risk and claim processes aligned with other functional areas;
  • Creating a process for uncovering the unknown or poorly understood (aka emerging) risks;
  • Effective analysis and measurement of risk and claims both quantitatively and qualitatively; and,
  • A collaborative focus on a resilient and sustainable enterprise, which must include a robust risk and claim strategy.

See also: Future Is Already Here in Claims

Examples of Risk Management Maturity Models

One thoroughly developed risk management maturity model (RMM) comes from the Risk Management Society (RIMS). While it was developed some 10 years ago, it remains a simple, yet comprehensive view of the seven most important factors that inform risk maturity. When well implemented, these components should drive an effective approach to managing all risk within your purview. 

The components of the RIMS RMM model include:

  • Adopting an enterprise-wide approach that is supported by executive management and that is aligned well with other relevant functions;
  • The degree to which repeatable and scalable process is integrated in the business and culture;
  • The degree of accountability for managing risk to a detailed appetite and tolerance strategy;
  • The degree of discipline applied to using the elements of good root cause analysis;
  • The degree to which a robust emerging risk process is used to uncover uncertainties to goal achievement;
  • The degree to which the vision and strategy are executed considering risk and risk management; and,
  • The degree to which resiliency and sustainability are integrated between operational planning and risk process.

Like all risk management strategies, no two are exactly the same, and there is no one way to accomplish maturity. Importantly, every risk leader needs to do for his or her organization what the organization needs and will support. 

Of course, RIMS is not the only source of risk maturity measurement. Others, including Aon, offer other criteria. Aon’s model includes these components:

  • Ensuring the board understands and is committed to the risk strategy;
  • Effective risk communications;
  • Emphasis on the ties among culture, engagement and accountability;
  • Stakeholder participation in risk management activities;
  • The use of risk in/formation for decision making; and,
  • Demonstration of value.

This is not to say that the RIMS model ignores these issues, they simply take a different emphasis between the models. 

Another model worth considering is from Protiviti’s perspective on risk maturity as it relates to the board of director’s accountability for risk oversight. A few highlights of the perspective include:

  • An emphasis on the risks that matter most;
  • Alignment between policies and processes;
  • Effective education and use of people and their place in the organization;
  • Ensuring assumptions are supportable and understood;
  • The board’s knowledge of asking the right questions; and,
  • Understanding the relationship to capability maturity frameworks.

Certainly, good governance is critical to ultimate success, and the board’s role in that is the apex of that consideration. If the board is engaged and accountable for ensuring their risk oversight responsibility is effectively executed, the successful execution of the strategy is likely and, by inference, risk and related claims will have been effectively managed, as well.

Another critical aspect of the impact of risk and claims that should not be overlooked is their impact on productivity. If productivity is directly related to people’s availability to work, then we can quickly agree that risks produce losses that affect both people and property, oftentimes together. We can readily agree that impacts to productivity are a frequent result of losses and the claims they generate. Further, productivity impacts are not just limited to on-the-job injury. Every car accident, property loss or general liability loss that includes personal injury has implications for productivity, in either the workplace or outside of the workplace. As a result, it behooves all risk and claim leaders to execute their roles by aligning their interests and driving their focus.

Finally, a few fundamentals that are important to understand in execution of these goals include understanding that:

  • how you handle claims will directly affect not just your TCOR but your overall risk management capability and effectiveness; 
  • there is no one right approach to managing claims or risks; each organization must chart its own course aligned with its culture and priorities;
  • risk and the claims they can generate must be treated as an integral aspect of organizational strategy;
  • risk and claim management should be a focus on additive value; and,
  • risk and claim maturity have shown that better results are achieved as a result.

See also: How Risk Managers Must Adapt to COVID

In its simplest form, risk management is about preventing (or, on the upside, leveraging), financing and controlling risk and loss. Effective risk management is dependent on many elements, not least of which is effective claims management. And while claims are naturally focused on negative events that have already occurred, this activity is centrally critical to comprehensive, effective risk management.

How you prioritize claims and related activities will have significant effects on how you can contribute to organizational success. Doing both well will enable both risk and claim management effectiveness, demonstrated by measurable maturity.