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Speak CFO's language to get C-suite involved in risk management


NEW YORK — To engage the corporate leadership of an organization about insurance matters, risk managers must reach the chief financial officer, and to reach the CFO, one must speak the language of finance, according to a prominent insurance scholar.

“Sometimes it seems to me that we are all reporting to a chief financial officer,” Jack Hampton, professor of business at St. Peter's University in Jersey City, N.J., and former executive director of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc., said Thursday at the Business Insurance Risk Management Summit in New York.

“Does it make a difference if we speak the language of the CFO?” asked Mr. Hampton. Using a set of words tailored to catch the attention of the CFO could be a powerful tool in communicating about insurance needs and topics, he said.

“You must teach finance people the total cost of risk,” said Mr. Hampton.

He said any communication or presentation about insurance or risk management aimed at the CFO should highlight concepts with which the finance chief is familiar or on which he or she is focused, especially cost savings.

“The financial component of the argument will get the CFO's attention,” Mr. Hampton said. “You must answer any questions with a financial foundation.”

In fact, Mr. Hampton suggested that the two functions are similar and parallel. “Is it risk management, is it finance, or both?” he said.