Risk: ignorance isn’t an excuse for clients and is inexcusable for insurers


I have lifted this text from a recent Linkedin discussion – once I establish the source I will share that too – and wonder what will it take for the insurance industry to tackle known limitations?

“Recent experience in the Americas has shown that the hidden indirect costs of ignored or unforeseen risks are between five and ten times higher than claims payments which implies an inability to see, anticipate and measure the scope of risk interdependence in complex business environments by clients, brokers and underwriters alike.”

This is precisely the point that I have been making and WHY I WILL persist with my attempts to make COMPLEXITY ANALYSIS & MANAGEMENT a cornerstone of future insurance rating.

I am far from alone in highlighting (1) the problem (2) the potential impact. In 2010 and, again, in 2011 Mactavish Consulting produced really worrying reports. The commentaries from PwC and Citi should have very loud alarm bells ringing…I can’t hear them! Rather the findings are labelled as “inconvenient truth” and swept under a well-worn carpet in the hope that the spark, that will betray the increased fire risk, doesn’t happen on the current watch!!!

Are the Strategic risk functions and shareholders being kept in the dark whilst “wider economic climate” is readied as the excuse for the inevitable losses?

British firms contain new risks that have not been properly understood or reflected. As a result of this combining with existing pressures on insurers, the insurance sector and the companies it serves could be facing a perfect storm that would form another phase of the financial crisis.Our research suggests that company managements, insurers and investors all need to wake up to face this reality.”

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UK insurers: Arrogant, ignorant or deaf?


This isn’t the first time that PwC have warned the insurance industry. It is just after the 1st Anniversary of a warning that was “supported” by Citi…hence my question.

March 2010: Transparency – Trust – Trends – TRANSFORMATION

“According to our research, non-life firms could see significant capital increases under the directive as it currently stands, so it is vital insurers explore what options they have available to maximise capital now. This will include identifying where they believe current measures are inappropriate.”

Post Magazine Group News | LinkedIn.

Here is a “surprising” blog from Martin Friel at Insurance Age. I say surprising, merely because it was deemed worthy of comment! In the grand scheme of things that have gone so badly off the rails, in UK insurance, this strikes me as pretty mundane. Truth is, the really juicy stories just don’t tend to openly talked about or published. These are more about the people…whether directly (policyholders) or indirectly (investors)…who, ultimately, pay the price of yet more FS shenanigans. Because someone will pay the ferryman and, in reality, it looks like insurer results are going to have to be REALLY bad before they even attempt to justify rate-hikes in the current economic climate – and make highly leveraged, high growth, strategies pay off before financial collapse follows the, evident, failure of risk management and moral corruption – but NOT BEFORE all kinds of awkward questions about rating bases, broking remuneration and claims handling/management are asked:

Why on earth would an underwriter go anywhere near a book of business that had a 90% loss ratio? Unless the company in question is putting some astronomical rates into the market, then I just don’t see how this can work. I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination but surely this is essentially encouraging every broker with a poorly performing motor fleet book to, I believe the term is, fill their boots.

UK Insurance: Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition…


I really never really thought of FSA or OFT as anything like the Spanish Inquisition, except insofar as the element of surprise is concerned…because, I reckon that most people would be very surprised if they brought about any kind of change to UK Financial Services, that benefitted the customer/policyholder – despite any good intentions!

Needless to say that, if my understanding of this investigation is correct, this is much more about protecting the interests of shareholders in relation to underwriting bank rights issues. BUT the point is that there is a lack of transparency (opacity) and that the rates have not reduced despite improved conditions.

My prediction…”hold on to your hats” because I have a feeling that this is the tip of the iceberg and the insurance industry can;t stand too much “heat”!!!

This is not and will not be the only such initiative. Opacity is the rotten core of all that is wrong with the UK (and global) Financial sector. Bailouts, fines and reprimands may have been tolerated but will not appease people beginning to feel the full effect of increasing economic uncertainty, rising cost of living, the likelihood of rising mortgage costs and falling services as a result of Public service cuts.

“NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again”

2010 Report Updates: FS cannot function without trust


This is a “headline” so obvious that it may well be a contender for non-news item of the decade…

image

So you would be entitled to assume that strategists within major banks and insurers would be busily scurrying around frantically innovating new products and services that simply ooze customer value. Frankly, anything that rebuilds trust and engenders loyalty, in an effort to undo the reputational damage done in recent years.

Yeah right. Customers aren’t really that important…yet!

I commented upon Edelman Trust Barometer & “Which?” reports earlier in the year – found at the following link:

Transparency – Trust – Trends – TRANSFORMATION

I know I have been going on about this for a long time now BUT, from the distinct lack of any change of attitude or strategy, it appears that the customer message has not been taken on board. Further evidence of the arrogance of FS and, in my humble opinion, a very serious mistake. As we enter, what will be, a difficult and painful period for UK (and beyond) the realisation that the perpetrators of so much of the financial misery have “escaped”, unscathed –  apart from a lot of Governmental and Regulatory rhetoric, will lead to a public backlash! Of course this has most serious implications for Government as society suffers.

FS firms who wait before offering truly innovative solutions and reintroducing customer value – instead of stripping it our for themselves and for their distributions channels – will only confirm, to the informed observer, that they have failed to learn any lesson from past, inglorious, failure.

To adapt the words of Warren Buffett “If value is what you take price is what you will pay

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Supply chain complexity


My interest and that of my colleagues at Ontonix is “the mastery of complexity”. But it can be a difficult message to communicate to business leaders for whom the term complexity either means very little or sounds vaguely like something made up by the type of Consultants who will invent new (and scarier) threats to business just to keep them in the style to which they have become accustomed!

So, it is reassuring and extremely useful when experts from business and/or Academia use their significant influence to warn of the, very real, dangers. In his article, Supply chain futures: the mastery of complexity, Philip Greening does us – as providers of unique Complex Systems Management, Business Risk Management & Quantitative Complexity Management IT solutions – and members of the Supply Chain community an enormous favour. Read more of this post