New CII president Julie Page believes it is time for the profession to build on the strengths of the past and increase relevance in the future
I am honoured to be appointed as president of the CII, particularly at such a critical moment, with ever increasing uncertainty for society, business and individuals. The key themes of my presidential year – building on Nick Turner’s theme of trust – will focus on how we develop our role in addressing unmet needs and maintaining relevance.
I have worked within the insurance profession for more than 30 years and never has there been a more vital moment to find ways to protect and empower our customers and clients as they navigate a complex world, amplified radically by the current crisis. Plotting a route through the emerging risk landscape is difficult, but the role of the insurance profession is clear: our challenge is to project forward into the new world of risk. The analysis of historic experience as a measure for future risk, while demonstrably valuable in our traditional spaces, will anchor our profession to a reducing share of the risk our customers face. We need to look forward, to increase solutions for the future in the fight for relevance.
The role of the insurance profession is clear: our challenge is to project forward into the new world of risk
Our profession has its origins in enabling the economic investor of centuries gone by, pooling risks to minimise their exposures. Through more than 300 years of evolution, our profession has adapted to reflect society, but the basic principles have remained the same – to enable our customers to take risk with the security of an insurance solution in the event of an unexpected loss, whether that be in the form of a mortgage to buy a new home, or funding to set up a new business.
In recent years, however, it feels like the investors of today have moved ahead at a faster pace than the insurance profession and are facing risks we are not yet fully equipped to support. It is a trend we must reverse if we are to stay relevant to clients who face an imposing wall of inadequately protected risks.
We have incredible data in the traditional risk classes to assess and price risk, but this does not support the profession in developing solutions for new risks where the potential for loss is yet to be proven. Arguably, the success of our profession in understanding and supporting the management of risk has resulted in them slipping down the boardroom agenda. But they have been replaced by new, less tangible risks for which insurance solutions are scarce or non-existent.
The pandemic has revealed the interconnectedness of risk, where individuals and organisations have been largely powerless in the fight against the manifestation of the risk. In recent times, governments have stepped in, providing security and financial relief in the interest of economies, at a scale that could not be matched without them. But that doesn’t mean there is no part for the profession to play as we seek to respond to unmet needs.
Before Covid-19, the profession was already listening to customer needs, acquiring new capabilities, building understanding and turning knowledge into solutions. Now we must step up the pace and accelerate towards these new and emerging risks. Let us not retrench on the tragedy of Covid-19 or allow the global health crisis to slow the efforts we have been making to fill those risk gaps. Let us look forward, stay relevant and give our customers the support and confidence to take risk intelligently.
Julie Page is president of the CII