Insurance Times attended this year's Airmic conference, which was based on the theme of “Added Value”and brought up many varied and thought-provoking discussions.

Delegates at this year's annual Airmic conference were left in little doubt of the growing prominence of the association.

For the first time, the Association of Insurance and Risk Managers switched its venue from Nottingham University to the much bigger International Convention Centre in Birmingham, and laid on an impressive A-list of speakers.

The theme of the conference was "Added Value", but it would have been just as appropriate to have used the theme of communication.

Chairman Mark Butterworth opened the conference by telling delegates: "I believe the ability to demonstrate how risk management activities contribute to the organisation's governing objective of value creation is a core requirement is risk managers.

"We must ask ourselves, are our activities clearly understood, appreciated and valued by senior management.

"How can we measure and quantify how our risk management is better and more effective than the average."

Bad communication was also the bugbear highlighted by Mary Francis, the new head of the Association of British Insurers, who was addressing Airmic for the first time.

In view of what Francis called a "climate of suspicion and attack" against insurers today, she warned delegates that getting the message right is vital in today's litigious society.

She cited Michael Heseltine announcing pit closures on sound economic reasons but without considering the backlash from the public.

"People realised that it was not about money and the economy but it was about people and emotions," she said.

Later, Anthony Hilton, the city editor of the Evening Standard, examined whether shareholder value is short-term thinking by another name.

And Perry Golkin of New York based investment group KKR spoke about how his firm goes about creating value.

Throughout the two days there were 18 specialist workshops and industry seminars.

The wide ranging number of topics included managing captives, fraud prevention, corporate governance, operational risk control, web based risk tools, human resource solutions, environmental risk, health & safety issues, professional indemnity, dependency modelling and weather risk.

Later, Butterworth showed there was still a healthy gap between a risk manager and an insurer when he warned that the insurance industry was slow and ponderous in finding a solution to the growing menace of ecommerce: "They are happy with a fire in your server but not if there is a bug in your server," he said.