Tag Archives : Jo Willaert

A Proud President: Jo Willaert


Jo Willaert

Nine months have passed since I have switched from the position of Deputy President of FERMA to President, and I can say today that I am a proud President:

I am proud of what we have accomplished in that time, for which I thank my board colleagues and the FERMA staff for their support;

I am proud of taking part in the design and implementation of a new strategic plan for FERMA, about which you will learn more in the coming months;

And I am proud of our network, which is growing and becoming more influential for the benefit of the risk managers’ community.


Our themes for my presidency are LEADERSHIP – COMMUNICATION – EDUCATION, and I would like to pick out some of our achievements and plans under these headings.

When it comes to leadership, FERMA is the single recognised voice of European risk managers and, as such, its primary mission is to represent the interests of its member associations and their members to the European institutions. Lobbying activities, therefore, have been intensified to strengthen our political impact and promote the fundamental role of risk managers and the value of ERM methodology to EU institutions and other international organisations.

Our member associations are our reason for being. COMMUNICATION with them is absolutely essential for us to deliver tangible added-value. We also want more interaction between members and for members to become more involved in FERMA’s activities. Part of the way we are encouraging this is to enhance members’ feeling of belonging to a European network. We have produced a booklet about the network, which will be enriched over the coming months with more data and information. You can download it here.

I am proud of our certification project rimap®. We took the initiative, and we are leading a trend that is being followed worldwide. This is the evidence that we in FERMA and our associations are the pioneers of the professionalism in risk management. Rimap is a long journey, but it is paying off.

Having focused so much on EDUCATION in 2016, I can tell you that 2017 will be the year of LEADERSHIP. The 2017 FERMA Forum will be in Monte Carlo from 15-18 October, and we have already chosen as our theme ‘Risk Manager in Pole Position’.  It is an appropriate title for Monte Carlo, and for us, too, because it conveys images of risk, performance, anticipation, prevention, crisis management, team spirit and new technologies. The connection with the profession is self-evident.


FERMA Survey to reveal 10 years’ development in risk management




On 3 and 4 October, FERMA will reveal the results of its 2016 FERMA European Risk and Insurance Survey – and risk managers will be able to see how their profession has developed over the past 10 years.

FERMA launched the first pan-European benchmarking survey in 2001-2. By 2006, the survey questionnaire was generating answers from 460 companies and their risk managers. The FERMA Survey had become a real expression of the views of European risk managers and a benchmarking tool for them.

Since then, the survey has become more sophisticated with each edition. The FERMA European Risk and Insurance Report, which gives the results, is a real tool for risk managers throughout Europe to benchmark their companies’ risk management and their own roles. Comparing the 2016 results with 2006 will show how risk management has developed over these 10 years.

Jo Willaert, the President of FERMA, encourages all FERMA members to participate in the 2016 survey. “Risks have changed dramatically over this period. Risk management is now a true added-value in achieving the goals of every company, as new and exceptional exposures become a daily reality. The more answers to the survey, the more representative the voice of the risk managers will be in the European decision process.”

Ten years ago some experts were jittery about the inflated US mortgage market and soaring stock markets, but this was still the world before the financial crisis. Terrorism had already shocked the world with the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and on Madrid in 2004. Corporate scandals, mainly but not entirely in the United States, were making corporate governance a big issue. Legislation that followed, especially the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act, had given a new impetus to enterprise risk management.

In 2006, the FERMA Survey revealed that European risk managers saw operational risks and the business environment as the most important risk categories for their companies. Financial risks were lower down the list of priorities – and cyber risks were not even mentioned, only data systems.

Marie-Gemma Dequae, who was President of FERMA in 2006 and is now FERMA’s  scientific adviser comments: “In the 2006 survey, we see a more internal, technical focus on risk management policy and practices, without talking about embedding risk culture into all levels of the organisation.

“The relationship with top management and board was not a significant point of the survey in 2006. External reporting of risk and risk management was gradually developing, but the risk manager was not always actively involved in the process. While in 2006 there was a call for European solutions to address new risks (like terrorism) for the first time, in 2016 we expect that a large part of the survey will deal with EU priorities,” she says.

In terms of insurance, the sensitive issues 10 years ago were disclosure of broker remuneration and timely delivery of documents. Making more use of freedom of services was cited, rather than global programs.

The most important risk categories 2006
Operational 81%
Commercial 58%
Legislation 49%
Data systems 42%
Corporate governance 42%
Finance 42%
Liabilities 40%
Human resources 39%
Ethics 32%
Environmental 30%


Jo Willaert concludes: “The 2006 FERMA Survey shows us where we have come from. The results of the 2016 Survey will provide useful comparisons for you and your own organisation and pointers for the future. I encourage all FERMA members to take part.”

The objectives set by the first FERMA Survey in 2002 are unchanged today:

  • Identify risk management best practices in Europe;
  • Benchmark current risk management practices;
  • Start building a benchmarking tool to track the evolution in the application of enterprise risk management in Europe;
  • Provide a valuable tool for risk managers to benchmark and possibly upgrade their own organisation.





A sense of urgency required (FULL VERSION)

During the last annual conference of the French association AMRAE in Lille last February, the President of AMRAE Brigitte Bouquot and FERMA President Jo Willaert shared their views on the need for a sense of urgency in managing risks which are today systemic and inter-connected.

Brigitte Bouquot, AMRAE President and Director of Insurance and Risk Management at Thales

Brigitte Bouquot, AMRAE President and Director of Insurance and Risk Management at Thales

FERMA: In terms of AMRAE’s relationship with Europe, what are your priorities?

Brigitte: Solvency II is certainly something which we have followed closely. We see that large insurers are very prudent. They are taking time to discuss risks, to do their scenarios. They are taking more time to make decisions. At the same time, I believe that the current process of consolidation in the insurance market is positive for risk managers. The risk carriers have become very powerful which is good for us because risks are becoming extreme. We are looking for insurers which can offer truly global programmes and are very powerful.
We are also aware that there are enormous implications for French enterprises in developments related to data privacy, the end of safe harbour provisions for data transfer and other cyber risks. I think the legal landscape for business in Europe has become more demanding for these issues, and there are others such as the use of drones, where companies are expected to anticipate more and not wait for the European Commission to act.

Jo: The consolidation in the insurance market reflects the development of industry generally, but the market is large and there aren’t monopolies. Among the large, global insurers, there are still sufficient for us to choose from, and the capacity is now enormous. I think this regrouping is also a good thing in terms of the quality of these large insurers and the expertise they can offer.

Brigitte: Insurance is a business of people. With mergers, there is an increase of capacity and expert capability, but there is a risk of losing expertise and knowledge if key people leave.

Jo: There is an advantage in the larger number and the wider skills of the people working in these companies. I think this consolidation reinforces the profession and deepens the knowledge available. They are already at a high level and will improve still further as mergers bring them together.

FERMA: Has Solvency II been a big issue in terms of captives for AMRAE members?

Brigitte: Yes and no. Everyone has done what they needed to do for Solvency II. It was primarily an administrative process. It did require work, and there were some difficult decisions to be made. It was most profound in terms of risk of underwriting, governance, and some corrections to elements of the accounts. But it was not an expensive exercise in terms of capitalisation.

Jo: It was no more difficult than it was for a commercial insurer, but it did make companies reflect before starting a new captive.

Brigitte: There is something interesting for industrial or commercial enterprises. You have a model of risk which is very operational. Then when you try to apply this approach to insuring the enterprise, it seems that sometimes the company’s idea of enterprise risk may not be the same as that of the insurers.

Jo Willaert, FERMA President and Agfa Gevaert Risk Manager

Jo Willaert, FERMA President and Agfa Gevaert Risk Manager

Jo: If you have applied Solvency II for your captive, then you have an insight into the insurers’ spirit of governance. Solvency II has had advantages for us all. Everyone who bears risk had to reflect.

Brigitte: This is been an evolution, not revolution. Whether or not to have a captive is a strategic decision, not one for an overnight decision. A captive is still a useful tool if you want to be more creative or imaginative in your risk transfer projects, but it requires consideration.

FERMA: Of two big risks, cyber and climate change, which do risk managers see as more of a concern?

Brigitte: Cyber. Without minimising the potential impact of climate change, even with risks such as more intense storms, there is still a continuity. These are risks which we already manage and ones for which insurers know how to find solutions. The mechanisms are in place and they are robust. Cyber is much more difficult because there are many possible loss scenarios, loss of data, denial of service attacks and so on, and they are continually changing. This is very challenging.

Jo: The mechanism of underwriting catastrophe risks is not different in nature to what it has been, although we have to adapt to the circumstances. With cyber-related risks, we have different types of exposure: first party and third party, liabilities and non-damage business interruption. More and more, the risks are interlinked. The underlying problem can be an IT one, but it comes with the problem of reputation, communication and crisis management, for instance. The great challenge for insurers is to overcome the restrictions of their traditional classes of underwriting, so that we can have contingent business interruption cover across different lines of business.

FERMA: What is your working relationship like with the insurance industry?

Brigitte: We want insurers to understand that they should be more creative in matching their solutions to the needs of their clients. We have to do this quickly because risk is going to increase very quickly. My desire is that everyone is motivated and takes this changing situation to heart. Insurers need to be aware that their image with boards has to be reinforced continuously.

Jo: Boards and top managers of companies only tend to come into contact with insurance when there is a problem, when they have a risk which isn’t covered. They don’t often see insurers as collaborators, but as vendors of policies. They are more inclined to see banks as collaborators, as partners, even though insurers came out of the financial crisis in much more robust shape than banks.

Brigitte: It is the job of the risk manager to tackle subjects which are taboo. We have to take those subjects and work on them. Risks evolve. If insurers’ products do not adapt accordingly, their image could suffer.

Jo: We believe recognition of the function of risk management is so important in this context because the profession knows what products are available and has creative ways to find other solutions. We have to be able to present them to the board, using the right language and setting them in the context of the business plans.

FERMA: How can FERMA best help AMRAE and its members?

Brigitte: FERMA is very important because it is always a way we can learn from a European perspective. As a means to collaborating, great expertise, this is really something very useful. FERMA helps associations to create a network. We also appreciate FERMA’s lobbying function with the EU and in terms of working with North American and Asian organisations.
I believe that the ‘job’ of the risk manager must be more professional, so AMRAE is an enthusiastic supporter of FERMA’s certification programme, rimap©. Let’s remember that AMRAE initiated the first risk manager framework in 2014, which was translated in English in 2015 in order to be shared with every national organisation. I am glad to see how it helped to set up rimap.
AMRAE is very focussed on continuing professional development and recognition for risk managers. We have been involved with risk management training and education programmes developed in different countries, but rimap is a project for all European countries. FERMA is dedicated to developing a standard that has global recognition, so that for example, an Indian CEO understands what it means to be a rimap certified risk manager. This is a long term, strategic project.

FERMA announces its new executive committee ahead of 2015 Risk Management Forum

The Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA) has announced its 2015-2016 executive committee ahead of the 2015 FERMA Risk Management Forum and the start of the term of its new President, Jo Willaert. Three new vice presidents will join the executive committee together with Gilbert Canameras from the French association AMRAE who has become FERMA’s Secretary General. Continue reading

Interview with Jo Willaert

Interview with Jo Willaert, Deputy President of FERMA Continue reading

FERMA’s next President Johan Willaert looks at the profession

Today, outside financial services we suffer from a lack of clear recognition of what the function of risk management involves and so also a lack of appreciation of the role of the risk manager. There are risk managers located in the financial function, in HR, or in property or in environmental protection. An important number of our members are insurance managers which function is different from the one of risk manager. The problem is that there are as many definitions of risk management as there are companies, and it depends on the culture of the company. For the time being, it is not always clear in the minds of many risk managers themselves and nor in the management of companies. Continue reading

2015: FERMA looks ahead

FERMA has started 2015 with a new executive structure and ambitious plans for the year. Here the executive team give us their views and personal objectives. Continue reading

Insurance industry leaders debate at Seminar

The insurance panel debate that will take place on Tuesday morning 23 October brings together leading figures from the industry to take part in a discussion moderated by FERMA President, Jorge Luzzi and FERMA board member, Jo Willaert. Continue reading

FERMA chooses new board members

The Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA) has elected three board members for new three year terms. Continue reading