"We live in a different world," Marie-Gemma Dequae said of her American peers.
The new president of the Federation of European Risk Management Associations explained during an interview that European risk managers must deal with a patchwork of regulations and languages among their diverse countries, as well as the strong Continental corporate governance movement.
This could help to explain, Dequae surmised, why Europeans are further ahead on the enterprise risk management learning curve.
According to Dequae, Europeans also seem to value a more direct relationship between risk manager and carrier, where they are the only two parties in risk transfer and the broker is only an "intermediary."
And, as the president pointed out, there are fewer women in the profession on her side of the Atlantic. She was struck by the number of women winning awards during her attendance at this year's conference of the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc.
Risk managers everywhere, however, face similar challenges, as well, such as the recent controversy over brokering.
To tackle the issue, FERMA will continue to push for a European charter on broker remuneration during Dequae's term.
The initiative was frustrated during the term of Thierry van Santen, her predecessor. EOS RISQ (an alliance of six major European brokers) refused the deal outright, while the Big Three brokers balked at semantics.
Dequae reported that, since then, Marsh has proposed language changes to the charter, FERMA is reviewing it, and the association, with van Santen's continued guidance, will then pass it along to Willis and Aon for their approval.
"I don't think there will be a problem," said Dequae.
FERMA will also push ahead under Dequae's leadership with its expansion beyond the 12 current members.
Dequae pointed to a maturing risk management community in Eastern Europe, in such countries as Romania, Bulgaria and Poland. Risk management in Turkey is also coming unto its own.
"We still have some countries where we need to promote risk management," Dequae said, "but that's an ongoing process."
It's not a revolution, she added, but an "evolution," which FERMA helps to push along by reaching out to local risk managers in a prospective country through contacts in the broking and insurance communities.
Dequae said that one of FERMA's primary purposes is to serve its member associations. The federation has conducted a survey to gauge its members' priorities for the coming year.
The results include: the PRORIM e-learning tool and the launch of this training initiative in October; the third annual risk-management benchmarking survey; and European risk management standards, which FERMA is formulating in conjunction with the Association of Insurance and Risk Managers.
Dequae said FERMA and its member associations also hope to build on the success of last year's Forum in Portugal for the 2007 Forum. "It really has to be a good conference," she said.
It could be so good, perhaps, that more American risk managers might make the trans-Atlantic trek to learn from and compare notes with their European peers.
July 1, 2006
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