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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Risky business for SAAX

More than 50 professionals gathered to hear South Africans Andrew Birrell and Jan-Hendrik Erasmus discuss and debate their experience in risk management. 
Paul Sweeting and Malcolm Kemp completed the panel, which was expertly chaired by Marjorie Ngwenya.

Andrew Birrell shared highlights of his career path to group CRO at Old Mutual plc. During his career, he turned around insurers in distress, enabling him to experience their difficulties and how best to fix them. Andrew cited asset liability management as an area where insurance companies tended to become unstuck.

Jan-Hendrik Erasmus, partner at 
Oliver Wyman, stressed that CROs need to be commercial and suggested that ERM should really be ‘ERRM’ or enterprise risk-return management. According to Jan-Hendrik, the key industry trends in ERM are:

• Increasingly, CROs are on executive committees with the role of risk management becoming progressively more important

• The regulatory environment is changing and companies have to ensure their business models continue to make sense

• The global financial crisis created significant balance sheet volatility for a number of financial institutions. Navigating this volatility is a key focus area across the industry — Solvency II will affect solvency volatility for insurers due to a move to the so-called ‘mark-to-market’ balance sheet

• Firms are explicitly defining a ‘risk appetite’ and incentivising employees to take risks in line with the objectives of the company, including customer and shareholder objectives.

According to Adrian Baskir, 
SAAX Group chairman, the event met the aims of bringing together Southern African actuaries and other risk professionals for the discussion, and providing ample opportunity for networking and refreshments afterwards. Further information may be found on the Group’s website www.saaxgroup.org

By Sarah Bennett

SAAX Group