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2013 RIMS Special Section

New RIMS president

Increased emphasis on ERM will continue under Phelps’ regime

By Michael J. Moody, MBA, ARM

"RIMS will concentrate its efforts on supporting all risk professionals to strategically implement, maintain and advance their risk programs to capture that value."

—John Phelps
Incoming RIMS President

Like most business-related associations, the Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc. (RIMS), has an annual changing of the guard. Each year a new president is elected to fulfill their vision for the group. Several years ago, RIMS officially moved its election cycle to the first of the calendar year, rather than at the annual conference. The primary reason for this change was to allow the organization's new management team ample opportunity to get their programs under way before the annual conference began.

When presiding over an association the size of RIMS, it is helpful to have some prior experience with the group. This year's president, John Phelps, ARM, CPCU, director of business risk solutions for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc., certainly fills the bill. He served on the RIMS executive board for nine years before taking on the responsibility of being president. During that time, he held a number of positions on the board. One of his primary responsibilities was his involvement in the RIMS maturity model which helps risk managers to better benchmark their progress in moving toward an enterprise risk management approach. Additionally, Phelps has been a RIMS member for almost 33 years.

The future is so bright

Phelps, who is RIMS's 59th president, is committed to maintaining the organization's role as an invaluable resource for all members. He also wants to continue to retain the growth that RIMS has experienced over the past several years. In that regard, his goals for 2013 fall into three broad categories:

1.) Creating Value—He points out that "as the role of the risk manager continues to evolve, new value propositions within the member's organizations are created." As a result, RIMS "will concentrate its efforts on supporting all risk professionals to strategically implement, maintain and advance their risk programs to capture that value." RIMS believes that the most appropriate method for accomplishing this is by offering resources for traditional risk management methods, which Phelps indicates has always been a staple of the Society's resources, and for other risk managers along the maturity spectrum. In other words, RIMS is focused on helping all risk professionals achieve their goals.

2.) Thinking Globally—Phelps points out that technology has enabled organizations to transcend borders, making it effortless for business to be conducted on an international scale.  He says, "As our membership becomes more geographically diverse, RIMS too must think globally and take advantage of the many viable opportunities to expand the Society's footprint." In order for this to happen "we will need to make RIMS's resources and network accessible to risk practitioners all over the world."

3.) Developing Leaders—The future of risk management, he believes, "hinges on the next generation that has chosen or will choose to pursue careers in this discipline." During his presidency, RIMS will demonstrate its commitment to this aspiring group by providing educational programming, networking opportunities and volunteer positions at the Society's national level. He goes on to note that this is needed to further attract their participation in the many significant RIMS initiatives that year after year play an integral role in shaping the future of the profession.

You're gonna need shades

A new endeavor that was started not too long ago by RIMS President Scott Clark, the President Corner Messages, has proven to be an effective way to get the word out about the many RIMS initiatives and updates impacting our global membership.

Building on Clark's momentum, in the upcoming year, "we are going to increase the frequency of these messages and enhance their content." Now on monthly basis, Phelps plans to include updates from RIMS's various committees and councils, chapters, and the strategic and enterprise risk practice group. Additional information about the activities of the professional development and government affairs departments as well as any conference news will also be included in the Messages. To ensure that RIMS members have access to this information and know that it's available to them, he says, "we will also deliver these messages through our eGroups, and our other social media outlets."

A key to the future of RIMS's growth is to continue to push the boundaries of enterprise risk management as well as strategic risk management. The annual conference is at the heart of this movement. From an educational and networking standpoint, the RIMS annual event stands head and shoulders above any other risk management-related events. Several new educational sessions will be introduced this year including the "RIMS Power Hour," and the RIMS Hub, which will be located in the Exhibit Hall and will offer educational programming for professionals looking to boost their social media skills.

Additionally, RIMS will continue to maintain its legislative efforts. While Phelps notes that RIMS is not planning its traditional "RIMS on the Hill" where they met with U.S. senators and representatives, they are scheduling several state-specific events. Current state meetings have been scheduled in Tallahassee, Austin and Sacramento.


RIMS's movement to a more ERM approach over the past few years, while maintaining a commitment to risk managers with a more traditional role, has been nothing short of extraordinary. Taking the next step to strategic risk management was also a huge undertaking. Their success in this movement has always been a product of the board of directors and the vision of its presidents. Phelps appears to be ready to advance this movement even further and, in doing so, make a RIMS membership mandatory for any risk management professional. Today, RIMS is at the cutting edge of risk management and plans on maintaining that position. And Phelps has the knowledge and experience to provide the leadership needed to advance the profession.

"For far too long, the mention of 'risk' has struck fear in board rooms around the world," says Phelps. "As President of RIMS I want to focus on the resources and services that will better equip our members to demonstrate how a more comprehensive understanding of risk can help straighten the path for an organization's success and exploit the opportunities risk offers every company." Further, he says that he "sincerely looks forward to the year ahead and to helping our members advance their organization's risk management capabilities in all business disciplines."


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