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Q&A: Richard Roberts, Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.

Q&A: Richard Roberts, Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.

Richard Roberts is the 2015 president of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. Also, he's the director of risk management and employee benefits at Ensign-Bickford Industries Inc. in Simsbury, Connecticut. He recently spoke with Business Insurance Associate Editor Bill Kenealy about the evolving challenges facing risk managers and what he's looking forward to as the RIMS conference kicks off in New Orleans. Edited excerpts follow.

Q: What stands out to you this year in risk management?

A: One thing we see is that we have a lot of new people coming into the field. That's a good sign. There are quite a few universities with good risk management programs that are really preparing the kids well for the profession. We have over 100 students, as well as a couple of hundred of rising risk professionals coming to the conference this year. That's something we are very happy about.

Another trend we are seeing is that our members are really being heard by the leaders of their respective companies. We have to make sure that we are communicating well and demonstrating the value of risk management.

A third thing we are seeing is risk managers flipping risk management from just looking at the downside of risk, to using strategic risk management and enterprise risk management, to helping companies look for ways to capitalize on opportunities. Lastly, RIMS is looking at ways to upgrade our educational and networking capabilities in order to help our members accept larger responsibilities within their companies.

Q: What can risk managers do to help their organizations defend against a cyber attack?

A: It's in the news every day, so it's really top of mind for risk managers. There's a lot to learn about what we can do to prevent cyber attacks.

We are trying to get our members to work with their information technology people to look at what information we do have in our companies. The question is what are the most critical types of information that we have and what damage would it cause if it was stolen? A lot of people tend to hold on to data much longer than they need to, so risk managers need to make sure their company has a data destruction program and that they adhere to it.

Q: In addition to cyber, what other emerging risks are you looking to help risk managers with this year?

A: Since geopolitical risks have really come to the forefront, we want to educate our members to be better prepared as their companies enter new markets. The laws and regulations are very different from country to country. So one of our pushes this year is getting our international members more engaged and learning more about what they do.

Also, supply chain risk remains a big issue. It's still on people's front burner.

Q: What regulatory issues are you keeping an eye on?

A: We are also watching the proposed reinsurance tax. If it passed, it could reduce capacity and cause higher prices for our members. Lastly, we are supporting the Captive Insurance Act, because it clarifies a lot of the confusion of how our members use captives.

Q: What are you looking forward to in New Orleans at the conference?

A: As president, I'll be seeing the show from a different perspective. It's been fun to see the type of effort required behind the scenes to put on a conference of this magnitude.

Watching the excitement of the staff and members, I feel this conference is going to be one of the best that RIMS has put on.

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