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FLIMS, Switzerland-Corporate risk managers are starting to overcome the "mystery and mystique" of blended risk financing solutions, using both insurance and financial options to shift their exposures, a panel of experts says.

The perceived complexity of some blended products makes them difficult to market to risk managers, admitted Thomas Dickson, senior vp at Centre Reinsurance Holdings Ltd. in New York., speaking at a workshop on blended products during Zurich Insurance Co.'s corporate customer symposium in Flims, Switzerland, last month.

At the same time, other issues are limiting the appeal of alternative risk transfer products, not least of which is the fact that the risk manager's use of these products may be encroaching on the turf of other people within their organization, said Wayne Fisher, head of underwriting in the corporate customer division of Zurich Insurance Co. in Zurich, Switzerland.

Businesses that do take up alternative risk transfer products, however, do so in a small way and use them increasingly as they become more familiar with the products, said Mr. Fisher.

The nature of the products means organizations should seek long-term financial partners that can adapt to changing circumstances and precisely fit their needs, recommended Oscar Tymon, a director at Centre Reinsurance Representatives Ltd. in London.

In return, risk managers can find themselves benefiting from the "portfolio effect" of blended risk financing solutions, possessing coverages that cannot be bought separately or would be too expensive to buy individually.

Scott Lange, director of risk management at Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, Wash., described the new risk environment as strategic in nature. Risk managers need to take long-term rather than short-term perspectives, he said, and address all key risk impacts, whether they be direct losses, loss of market opportunity or a devaluation of assets.

Neal Schmale, chief financial officer of Unocal Corp. in El Segundo, Calif., said the concept of total risk management was "of a lot of interest to me and my company." Within his organization, risks need to be looked at in total, as part of one portfolio, and not as risks in isolation, he said.