What is on my mind during these unusual and uncertain times?

Kevin Bates
Group Head of Risk and Insurance, Lendlease
Director, RIMS Australasia

Authenticity of relationship, collaboration and partnership.  There is a good argument that the Romans had it right around 2000 years ago, amidst difficulty, when a Roman adage was born: amicus certus in re incerta cernitur. Roughly translated: a certain friend is ascertained amid uncertainty.

No one needs to map further the unusual landscape that we have travelled on our own streets these past weeks, but it does bear noting that your “sure friends” showed themselves.

I have been deeply proud to be a member in the risk management community in recent times.  I have seen our professional peer group step up and share like never before as we battle these unprecedented times.  I have also seen people whom I might have considered ‘risk leaders’ simply disappear from this level of collaboration.  This tells me two things; firstly, the risk fraternity is strong with some incredible talent and innovation.  Secondly, don’t rely on someone’s name or the organisation they work for as an inherent underwrite for their credibility. 

Authenticity of partners has also been critical.  Our insurance company partners have shown themselves to be true partners in the problem-solving conundrum and have done this in the backdrop of one of the hardest markets in recent times.  There is no argument that pricing is high and looking like that trend will continue.  Further, capacity is restricted, and breadth of cover is shrinking.  Furthermore, many insurers are having tough quarters and are facing ratings concerns.  This will only compound the capacity and cover available.

The challenge we face in stabilising the risk for our organisations is one we all need to solve together.  I’ve asked a peer group of around 50 risk professionals in the past month how they were prepared for a global pandemic. And not one of them had a business continuity plan that fully catered for a scenario where the world shuts down, all offices are closed, transport ceases, supply chains are impacted and so on.

Yet we probably need to accept that these kinds of exogenous shocks might become more frequent. This may be the first of a number of seismic issues in our lifetime that alter the way we work.

Crisis management will have to change to be agile in the face of these challenges. As we start thinking about how we set ourselves up for success moving forward.

Be authentic in your relationships, this is the only way to navigate through this.  We need to show true partnership; and that goes both ways.

As a Board Member of RIMS Australasia, I know I speak for my fellow Board members when I encourage you to use our network.  Collaboration will always be forthcoming, and the breadth of the RIMS network is second to none in the risk management space globally.

I and my fellow Board will always be available to work together with you to brainstorm issues and help support innovative solutions, in these novel times, and indeed in times of relative certainty. We are your network.