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Risk management professional designations drive career success

Continuing education supplements credentials and boosts professional standing


A professional designation is much more than a string of letters for risk managers seeking to further their careers through continuing education.

In addition to demonstrating that a risk manager has met stringent professional standards, designations also can demonstrate a commitment to continuing education. The result can be a leg up on the job throughout a risk manager's career.

The oldest professional designation geared to risk management, the associate in risk management, was first conferred in 1967 by The Institutes, the operating name of the Insurance Institute of America and the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

Since the program began, more than 25,000 people have earned the designation, a number that increases to more than 30,000 when specialized ARM designations are counted, said Michael Elliott, senior director of knowledge resources at The Institutes, which is responsible for the content of the ARM program.

Completion of the ARM coursework also can be applied to the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation, which requires completion of 10 courses plus additional commitments.

To earn the ARM, candidates must complete and pass exams in three courses, plus an ethics course. The courses are Risk Management Principles and Practices; Risk Assessment and Treatment; and Risk Financing.

In addition, The Institutes offers two specialized risk management courses: ARM-e, Enterprise Risk Management and ARM-p, Risk Management for Public Entities. The Institutes' enterprise risk management textbook, first published in late 2013, won a Business Insurance 2014 Innovation Award.

The Austin, Texas-based National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research has conferred the certified risk manager designation since 1997, said Sarah Warhaftig, director of risk management programs at the professional insurance education organization. As of June 2014, there were 3,653 CRM's in the United States and 100 internationally, she said.

The CRM designation comprises five courses, each of which is 20 hours followed by an examination. All five exams must be completed within five years of the first passing grade.

“We do require an annual update which can be a CRM or a variety of other programs offered by the National Alliance,” Ms. Warhaftig said. “We believe that everyone should be continually receiving continuing education and professional development.”

The Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. launched the RIMS Fellow program, which was founded and administered by the Global Risk Management Institute Inc. — a separate legal entity that RIMS oversees — in 2001. About 200 risk management professionals have earned the designation as RIMS Fellow.

“To earn your RIMS Fellow designation, risk professionals must complete three risk management courses at the university level: Risk Management Principles & Practices, Risk Financing and Risk Assessment & Treatment,” Annette Homan, a RIMS deputy director and president of the Global Risk Management Institute in New York, said in an email. A candidate may also qualify if he or she holds an ARM and CRM.

Candidates also must meet other criteria, including having worked at least five years in the industry and having completed other related coursework or RIMS Fellow workshops and sessions at RIMS annual conferences.

“Because the educational component of our conferences changes from year to year to match current events and risk management trends, RF applicants have benefited from practical and highly relevant industry insight that they have then taken back to their organizations and implemented immediately,” Ms. Homan said in her email.

Not all professional designations sought by risk managers pertain solely to the practice of risk management. Probably the best known of these is the CPCU.

The Professional Liability Underwriters Society Inc. in Minneapolis offers the Registered Professional Liability Underwriter designation, the first of which was conferred in 1994. Since then, more than 2,300 insurance professionals have earned the designation, and more than 50 have earned the advanced RPLU+ that was introduced in 2010.

Candidates for the RPLU designation must pass 12 exams reflecting eight core courses, ranging from the Fundamentals of Liability Insurance to Introduction to Directors and Officers Liability Insurance, plus five more specialized elective courses that touch on specific lines of professional liability insurance.

“Our materials are intended to be pertinent to anyone who is working with professional liability issues,” said Deb Ropelewski, PLUS director of education. “Whether that's underwriters, agents, brokers, claims professionals or risk managers, they should find the materials valuable.”

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