Policemen aren't the only ones to get younger So are delegates at Airmic conferences, says David Gamble.

For several years now it has been an Airmic tradition to invite risk management undergraduates to its annual conference. They benefit from the experience, and we gain from their energy and perspectives.

This year we have increased the number of students at our conference to twenty, which will include guests from Italy and France as well as places closer to home.

Our policy underlines the value that we place on the new blood coming into our profession - an enthusiasm shared by the Institute of Risk Management, who are sponsoring two of the students.

It also recognises the contribution of a generation of graduates from the risk management course at Glasgow Caledonian University, the first of its kind in the country.

Many of these graduates, now in their late twenties or early thirties, are already in senior positions in large UK companies. The course has expanded its intake, ensuring a steady flow of talent that will benefit the risk management profession and the country as a whole.

Far from seeing this trend as a threat, older hands welcome it as a long overdue recognition of the importance of risk management.

A series of independent reports and surveys over the past few years has confirmed that the discipline is growing in both scope and perceived value.

The latest, published last month by the US brokers Miller, describes how the profile of the risk manager has risen throughout business, including at board level, with a higher degree of risk analysis than ever before.

The recent raft of corporate governance regulation on both sides of the Atlantic has undoubtedly contributed to this higher profile.

Airmic's own private research shows that the position of risk managers within their organisations has continued to rise in terms of both status and pay.

Their average age, meanwhile, has moved in the opposite direction, with many senior risk managers in their early forties or younger.

Overall, I would say the profession is younger, technically more proficient and more understanding of wider business processes than it has ever been.

Given these developments and the rising expectations of risk managers, it is hardly surprising that knowledge is at a premium. Airmic works (in too many ways to mention here) to help risk managers fulfil their aspirations at all stages of their careers.

This year we gather in Brighton for our annual conference, which will provide the biggest concentration of risk management, insurance, broking and other related types of expertise in the UK. Someone who had not been to one of our events for, say, 10 years would be surprised at the changes.

The format may be largely the same - a mixture of plenary sessions to hear keynote speakers, over 40 break-out sessions for lectures and workshops plus a good mix of social occasions.

Changing topics

The topics, though, have changed to reflect the new risk management landscape and the new ideas and ways of working that have come into our profession.

Around half the subjects have little or nothing to do with insurance.

Airmic's agenda may recently have been dominated by insurance-related issues such as contract certainty and how brokers are remunerated, so it is worth reminding ourselves that many of our members are interested mainly or solely in business risk.

Supply chains, continuity, internal communication, operational risk and reputation loom large in the list of subjects, reflecting the emerging priorities of recent years. Even where insurance is the main topic, the emphasis is on the buyer actively managing his situation rather than passively accepting whatever may be on offer, including the consideration of alternative methods of cover.

The modern risk manager sees insurance as an important financial tool, one that should be made to work hard for the business.

We are very pleased this year that workplace rehabilitation will provide a major strand. Airmic and the CBI will be launching a joint campaign to encourage employers to take a more proactive and enlightened approach towards absence management.

Speakers include Professor Lynn Turner-Stokes of King's College Hospital, one of the foremost experts on the subject. While the Bodily Injury Claims Management Association is giving a practical, down-to-earth workshop.


As ever, the social occasions are important. All professions today feel the accelerating pace of change, but I think the pressure on risk managers is especially intense.

When a new problem or opportunity emerges within an organisation, and the risk manager is asked to express a view, there is usually no one within the enterprise with whom s/he can confer; at least no one from the same background and with the same skill sets.

It is, therefore, a valuable service to provide a chance for risk managers to mix and discuss issues, to share experiences and insights.

Airmic provides risk managers with the chance to chat informally with colleagues and tap into the perspectives and expertise of the entire profession.

Our conference is like a melting pot, bringing together risk managers, insurers, brokers and service providers and allowing them to learn from each other in social as well as formal settings.

We have a saying at Airmic that delegates, young and old, make conferences. Many of them could just as easily be on the platform. As they say in the ads, "It's good to talk".

We very much look forward to meeting old friends and welcoming new recruits to our ranks.

- David Gamble is executive director of Airmic.