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Case encourages new perspective on risk


LONDON, England— The scale and complexity of risk is increasing, Greg Case, president and chief executive officer of Aon Corp., has warned. But risk is "three parts opportunity and one part downside protection," he added.

Mr. Case made these comments during a lecture, "The Changing Face of Risk," at Lloyd's of London. He spoke of the importance of risk in financial markets.

"The desire to take risk, the ability to understand risk, is one of the fundamental drivers behind our global economy," he said.

He then moved to the themes that consistently emerged from colleagues and clients across the globe, encouraging risk managers and insurers to take a more positive view of risk.

"It's a building block for opportunity like almost nothing else. Risk is very much married to innovation. It is married to exploration and it is married to expansion," he said.

Mr. Case spoke of the ever increasing profile that risk management plays in company's agendas and of the scale of its development.

"Between 1970 and 1990, over a 20-year period, the average annual catastrophe loss was around $3 billion. From 1990 to 2004, it was in excess of $16 billion a year. So get ready. The magnitude of risk is going up," said Mr. Case.

And he argued that not only is the scale of risk increasing, but the complexity of managing it is too. "There were $20 billion in insured losses from 9/11 — probably more than that. But the U.S. government last year spent over $500 billion fighting terrorism," he said.

But Mr. Case maintained that this should not intimidate risk managers and insurers; rather, risk presents opportunities. "Behind every great idea is a view on how to think about risk and how to move around risk in ways that other people don't," he said.