Rating Risk Performance
Companies that elevate risk management may get a financial boost, according to ongoing research by Aon and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
The research, still in its early stages, is designed not as an investment guide but as a benchmarking tool for risk managers.
They can use the findings to show the potential payoff of their efforts, especially if they are seeking greater investment from senior executives, said Chris Ittner, the Ernst & Young professor of accounting at The Wharton School in Philadelphia.
“It’s something to think about because, potentially, there are some financial benefits,” Ittner said.
Since 2010, Ittner and researchers at Aon have been surveying companies around the world about their risk management practices, and scoring them on a “Risk Maturity Index.” More than 1,000 risk managers have been surveyed.
The more advanced a company’s risk management practices, the higher its score on a scale of 1 to 5 — and, based on survey results — the better the financial performance.
Between March 2012 and March 2013, for instance, the stock of public companies with a risk maturity score of 5 outperformed companies with lower scores. Companies with higher scores also were projected to experience lower share-price volatility following market-rattling shocks, such as a disaster on the scale of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
In the months ahead, the two organizations hope to gather enough information to tailor the data by industry and figure out what risk management steps are most effective, Ittner said. The organizations expect to issue two reports per year.
In the meantime, corporate risk managers may be able use the latest data to lobby senior leaders for more attention and resources. They can compare their scores on the Risk Maturity Index to the average, and determine whether any improvement is needed. Some might decide they are doing OK, said Kieran Stack, managing director at Aon Global Risk Consulting.
“It really depends on the appetite and the culture,” Stack said.
The findings of the Aon/Wharton research seem to underscore what investors know intuitively, said Keith Aleardi, chief investment officer of Fulton Financial Advisors in Lancaster, Pa. “It seems to make sense that companies that are diligent on risk management are just likely better-quality companies.”
Minnick Engineering 911
Disclaimer: The events depicted in this scenario are fictitious. Any similarity to any corporation or person, living or dead, is merely coincidental.
To a disinterested observer, the sight of a middle-aged civil engineer using the company parking lot on a spring afternoon as a dressing room would be, at best, an example of bad taste.
But former Minnick Engineering employee Bill Hayes wasn’t getting ready for a game that afternoon. No, he had mayhem on his mind.
Hayes, terminated just two hours previously, got his jersey on and grabbed a metal softball bat from the back of his SUV.
Hayes paused, arched his back and let out a wounded scream. Then he charged the front door of the civil engineering company.
Matthew Forrester, just two years out of college, was the first Minnick employee to see Hayes coming.
“Stop Bill, don’t do it!” Forrester yelled and picked up a plastic chair in an attempt to slow Hayes down.
With one swipe of the bat, Hayes knocked the chair out of Forrester’s grasp and shattered Forrester’s left forearm.
Forrester’s scream of pain alerted a handful of employees, including Linda Minnick, the daughter of the company founder and current CEO, who was in the process of interviewing a job candidate in a nearby conference room.
Linda jumped up, the shocked job candidate right behind her, and tried to get to the conference door before Hayes did. But Hayes, a former college middle linebacker, was too strong and too quick.
He stuck the bat in the narrowing door crack, then used it to violently thrust the door back open. Hayes got in three swings before the job candidate chased him out of the room.
The attack left Linda Minnick with some cracked ribs and the job prospect with a shattered jaw.
“Who you gonna’ fire next, Linda?” Hayes yelled as he ran deeper into the building. Some employees ran for cover and others set off after Hayes.
Linda Minnick had terminated Bill Hayes a scant 127 minutes previously, but it had been a long time coming.
The interview with the young job prospect filled her with optimism — at least until Bill Hayes roared back into the building and carried out his act of revenge.
In pain but trying to focus, Linda Minnick looked out the window to see a Channel 4 television crew rolling into the company parking lot.
“How did they get here so fast?” she said to no one in particular, as an administrative assistant knelt down next to the stricken job applicant, who was sitting in a nearby chair in severe pain.
Right behind the news truck was a police cruiser.
“What?” Minnick said again, to no one. In the space of the last two minutes, she felt that she was becoming mentally unhinged.
The shock of the attack wasn’t the only cause of Linda Minnick’s confusion.
When the Springfield Township Police escorted Bill Hayes out of Minnick Engineering, this time for the last time, he was in handcuffs. Channel 4 was there to record the whole thing.
The television crew was there, courtesy of Hayes himself. Before his onslaught, Hayes had called his cousin Tommy, a Channel 4 cameraman, and told him he should come to the Minnick offices that afternoon, that he was going to “see some things.”
Linda was weak and in shock. The pain of her cracked ribs felt like someone was jabbing a knife into her lung. She could only sit and watch the police sergeant shove Bill Hayes’ head down into the cruiser.
But just before Hayes was shoved into the car, he caught Linda’s eye and smiled a demented smile.
A shiver went through Linda as she watched the patrol car roll away.
“This is all my fault,” she said to herself.
Linda’s memory provided it for her all too clearly. Five years ago, Bill Hayes punched an office wall during a meeting that was called to deconstruct some engineering errors in a public sector project.
Then, three years later, Mrs. Yost, a kindly woman who worked in sales administration, was working late one night and saw Bill Hayes urinating in a potted plant by the copy machine.
It was a case of “He said, she said.”
Hayes denied doing it. Mrs. Yost, who was 67 and close to retirement, became emotional when questioned about the incident and seemed to want to put it out of her mind. Again, no action was taken against Hayes.
Minnick was always a family-run operation- handling employee situations like the one Hayes presented was way beyond the realm of what Linda was prepared for.
The day of Hayes’ termination she had finally had enough of his inconsistent performance and took that step without thinking further on the potential reaction that it may have elicited.
Minnick was ill prepared for this tragedy. She knew that now as surely as she felt the stabbing pain in her side where her ribs were cracked.
A paramedic ran up to Linda Minnick.
“See to him first,” Minnick said, nodding to the seriously injured engineering graduate sitting in a nearby chair.
The initial toll from Hayes attack was staggering enough. There was the first wave of injuries to Linda Minnick, Matthew Forrester and the job applicant, Henry Neal, whose jaw injury required extensive and expensive reconstructive surgery.
But Hayes had also injured three more people, two of them seriously, before the police got to him. One injured party was the employee of a contractor, Warren B. White Custodial Services. Hayes had shattered that unfortunate man’s knee with his prized metal softball bat.
The six and ten o’clock local news featured footage of Bill Hayes being led out of the Minnick Engineering offices in handcuffs. Watching the coverage with her husband, Linda Minnick could only hope the story didn’t go national.
From a coverage standpoint, Minnick Engineering was as vulnerable as its employees, prospective employees and contractors were the day Bill Hayes did what he did.
Warren B. White Custodial Services and the family of Henry Neal sued Minnick Engineering, alleging that the company had inadequate physical defenses in place in the event of an act of workplace violence.
Their lawsuits were successful, arguing as they did that the young Harry Neal suffered substantial emotional, not to mention physical trauma, getting hit in the face with a baseball bat at his very first job interview.
The janitor, who supported a wife and four children, also provided a sympathetic portrait for a jury. Linda was deposed as part of the legal proceedings. Under questioning, she admitted what the plaintiffs’ attorneys uncovered in their research.
Hayes presented a potential threat that hadn’t been adequately addressed by company leadership.
There was workers’ compensation coverage for the injuries to Forrester and the two other employees. But everything else hit the company’s general liability policy.
The litigation expenses alone in the Henry Neal case and the separate Warren B. White action amounted to more than $400,000.
Then came the medical and the emotional pain and suffering, which amounted to $1.2 million.
Those amounts tore right through the company’s self-insured retention of $200,000 and kept on going through its $1 million primary layer and into the $5M umbrella layer. Linda’s background was in engineering, not finance. Risk management was something she was sensitive to but now she was getting a real education in it.
There had been nowhere for the company’s general liability policy to run and hide in the aftermath of the Bill Hayes case. The broker trying to place the company’s coverage the following year was really up against it.
The company’s lack of a formal crisis management plan including methodology to deal with workplace violence was front and center with the underwriters.
“But we need coverage,” said Vince Liriano, the COO who handled insurance for the company. Minnick Engineering didn’t have a risk manager as such.
“Well, we’re going to need some premium increases, and larger retentions,” the underwriter said.
Leaving the renewal meeting, Linda felt sick to her stomach.
The only carrier that would talk to them wanted to triple the self-insured retention on the account and wanted a 40 percent premium increase.
There were two images Linda could not get out of her mind. The enraged, demented face of Bill Hayes forcing open that conference door, and the amount of money she and Vince Liriano had just agreed to as a self-insured retention.
The day Linda took over the reins of her father’s company seven years ago was the proudest day of her life. Now, a job doing traffic engineering studies in any other town but this one looked like a dream job.
Risk & Insurance partnered with XL Group to produce this scenario. Below are XL Group’s recommendations on how to prevent the losses presented in the scenario. These lessons learned are not the editorial opinion of Risk & Insurance.
1. Security assessments: Pre-incident security assessment and consulting, available through qualified Security Consultants, subsidized by an allowance provided by the Insurer, with Kidnap Ransom & Extortion coverage, could have gone a long way in preventing the injuries and emotional trauma that buffets Minnick Engineering in this scenario. Such a Consultant assessment would have resulted in creation of a formal Crisis Management Plan that would have included premises security recommendations, such as double door implementation and locking mechanisms that may have prevented this attack. That consulting could also include training for employees in how to prevent, diffuse and respond to a workplace violence event.
2. Kidnap, ransom and extortion coverage: The actions that took place in this scenario would have triggered coverage under the definition of Assault in the XL Kidnap Ransom & Extortion policy. This coverage, in addition to providing the Security Consultant pre-incident training, would have mitigated the expenses that accrued to Minnick Engineering’s general liability and umbrella policies. Assault limits are generally available up to $2.5M Personal Accident, Legal Liability, Expenses and Consultant Expenses are all included in cover.
3. Consider medical and legal costs: In this scenario, medical and legal costs ended up constituting the lion’s share of losses. In addition to the physical injuries to the outside contractor and the young job prospect, there is also psychological damage and counseling costs to consider. A KRE policy would not only reimburse an insured for physical and mental medical costs, it would also cover the legal liability in cases where the insured is sued by the victims and those costs assigned to the insured.
4. Spread risk management responsibilities: One of the weak points in Minnick Engineering’s risk management structure was that the burden of determining what should be done with a potentially dangerous employee was siloed. Pre-incident counseling, which the Security Consultants provided by coverage under KRE insurance, could have offered valuable training to key executives who might not have had a protocol in place to handle a potential workplace violence situation. Additionally, a holistic Crisis Management plan could have been crafted, providing clear and concise direction to the senior team on prevention and management of a wide variety of situations that could harm a company’s personnel, property and reputation.
5. Consider your portfolio: Just as a key executive should not work in isolation when it comes to making risk management decisions, neither should a single insurance policy be left to take the brunt of all possible risks. Getting renewals for Minnick Engineering’s general liability policy became a nightmare after the company was hit by a workplace violence event. A KRE policy could have handled many of the expenses in this case and spared the more expensive general liability policy.
Passionate About Technology
If you overheard the passion and enthusiasm that Brit Waters uses to describe his most important business technology, you would immediately assume it was the latest smartphone or tablet. But it’s not Apple or Google that generates so much enthusiasm, it’s the Riskonnect risk management platform.
“Riskonnect revolutionized how our department does business. This system changed the way we gather, analyze and communicate information. It’s made us more efficient, effective and reliable,” said Waters, Manager, Risk Management at Avery Dennison Corporation. “These are not bandages, but complete solutions.”
Avery Dennison is a multinational company offering labeling and packaging materials and solutions whose applications and technologies are an integral part of products used in every major market and industry. The company operates in more than 50 countries with over 26,000 employees and $6 billion in revenues in 2013.
“Riskonnect revolutionized how our department does business. This system changed the way we gather, analyze and communicate information. It’s made us more efficient, effective and reliable. These are not bandages, but complete solutions.”
– Brit Waters, Manager, Risk Management, Avery Dennison Corporation
The company partnered with Riskonnect, the provider of premier, enterprise-class technology platforms. In just 18 months, the system not only revolutionized the department but also delivered wide-ranging value for plenty of other parts of the organization. Those departments utilize the system to manage financial assets, keep track of vehicles and will soon oversee facilities requests.
‘The Simplicity is Unreal’
For global property insurance renewals, Riskonnect changed the way Avery Dennison collects data on its 300 manufacturing facilities, warehouses and other properties around the world. Gone are the days of sorting through hundreds of separate emails with information about the properties and merging hundreds of separate spreadsheets into one.
Not only was the old process cumbersome, it left lots of room for error.
With Riskonnect, the process is automated. It sends emails to the more than 100 individual contacts and the users insert the information into the Riskonnect portal themselves — something that makes Waters’ life a whole lot easier.
“I hit a button once and it runs the report for me. The simplicity is unreal,” he said. “Plus, it gives us better information that we can communicate to our insurance carriers, and gives them increased confidence about the risks they’re insuring.”
Waters said it’s a big time-saver. “Before, the process could take up to three months, and now we get it done in less than a month.”
One thing he’s particularly excited about is the configurability of the portal. If he wants to customize it, he can easily do so without going through a computer programmer or contacting an account executive.
“It gives you the power to set up the system as you need it, not as someone else envisions you need it,” said Waters.
The Riskonnect portal is also the primary source for reporting workers’ compensation claims. Again, the Riskonnect system simplified the process. Before, employees had to call a 1-800 number or fill out a long form and fax it to the Third Party Claims Administrator (TPA). Now they just log on and use the claims reporting portal, which is equipped with drop-down menus and other efficiencies that help expedite the process.
“We take the guessing game out of their hands,” said Waters. “In a matter of minutes, they get a confirmation email that the claim has been submitted to the TPA.”
Through the Riskonnect dashboard tools, Waters and his department can learn a lot about trends in workers’ comp claims. The system tracks claims year-to-date, costs, causes of injury and even the top body parts that are hurt. Then risk management communicates that information to local managers to make sure that safety-and-prevention programs are appropriate and will help reduce the amount of claims and their costs.
“The Riskonnect dashboards layout all this valuable information in easy-to-use tables and charts, making it simple for us to study the data and implement necessary safety changes,” said Waters.
ROI on a Values Collection Module
At the start of the process, Waters never imagined just how many other departments would use the tool. The finance department uses the system for asset management. The fleet administrator uses it to have drivers sign off on its manuals. Even the facilities department is jumping on board, using the Riskonnect system to identify when properties need repairs to big-ticket items like roofs or windows.
The company is also looking to report global property claims, transit claims and employers’ liability claims through the platform. It’s even evaluating if it can use it on the shop floor with health-and-safety team members having easy access to the system via iPads.
”The Riskonnect platform can help many different departments with a wide variety of tasks,” said Waters. “It’s really making risk management a much more strategic contributor to the company.”
“I hit a button once and it runs the report for me. The simplicity is unreal,” Waters said. “Plus, it gives us better information that we can communicate to our insurance carriers, and gives them increased confidence about the risks they’re insuring. Before, the process could take up to three months, and now we get it done in less than a month.”
Waters’ enthusiasm for the product is clear, but he’s not alone. End-users are raving about how easy, intuitive and customizable it is. For example, training end-users used to consist of holding approximately 15 different webinars to walk everyone through the process. Now, it’s accomplished in one easy-to-understand mass communication through the Riskonnect portal.
The end users even helped Waters and the Avery Dennison team add efficiencies that improve the entire process. On the property reporting side, they suggested adding an attachment tool for adding spreadsheets – so the information is easy to find the following year.
“It’s amazing when you give the end users a product and you see how they come back to you with advice that you never even thought of,” said Waters. “That speaks volumes for the system.”
In just 18 months, Riskonnect changed the way Avery Dennison does business — something Waters can’t hide his enthusiasm about.
“I don’t consider them just a vendor,” said Waters. “I consider them a long-term strategic partner.”