Return to Table of Contents

2013 RIMS Special Section

RIMS doubles down on ERM

Enhanced sessions and pre-conference offerings provide great depth

By Michael J. Moody, MBA, ARM

While it is important to see where enterprise risk management is headed, "we need to remember that we will not be abandoning our commitment to traditional risk management."

—Carol Fox
RIMS Director of Strategic and Enterprise Risk Practices

Enterprise risk management (ERM) has seen significant interest over the past few years. Certainly, some of this interest is coming from external drivers such as new regulations being placed on boards, rating agencies and various other stakeholders. However, an important segment is coming from corporations themselves, as they begin to see the value proposition that ERM represents.

Sometimes it's difficult to remember that ERM is still early in its development; in fact, there were few risk professionals who were even aware of ERM a dozen years ago. To say the least, educating risk managers and top management to the virtues of ERM has taken a herculean effort. Over the past few years, the majority of the educational effort has come from the leadership of the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS). And if that was not enough, they have recently expanded their focus of risk management beyond ERM.

ERM is a strategic business discipline that supports the achievement of an organization's objectives by addressing the full spectrum of its risks and managing the combined impact of those risks as an interrelated risk portfolio. RIMS now also focuses on strategic risk management, which is a business discipline that drives deliberation and action regarding uncertainties and untapped opportunities that affect an organization's strategy and strategic execution.

The formative years

RIMS's initial involvement in ERM was via the development of the RIMS Maturity Model, which originally was a product of the ERM development committee, which was formed by the RIMS board several years ago. The committee was led by current RIMS President John Phelps. Among other things, Phelps notes, "We initially did a lot of evaluating as to what RIMS's position on ERM should be." At that point, he says, ERM "was an obscure thought at RIMS." But the committee, which included only practicing enterprise risk managers, reviewed the entire matter. Following the review, the committee recommended that RIMS make a commitment to ERM and developed a list of priorities for consideration. Among the early priorities was the establishment of a maturity model.

A number of organizations had created ERM Frameworks to help risk management professionals design and implement ERM programs within their organizations. So as RIMS began its work on the maturity model, it was aware of the various frameworks that were being established. The model was constructed to serve as a benchmarking tool to be utilized by a company looking to develop an ERM program based upon any of the frameworks.

Phelps points out that "we looked at all of them," and built the model "so it could apply to any of them." The model, indicates Phelps, was designed not only to provide insight into where the corporation's programs were, from a best practices standpoint by using the model's seven attributes, but also to provide insight into "where you might want to work to improve your ERM program." And, he notes, despite all of the different frameworks, they have not had to change the model "because it was built to be something that was timeless." Maintaining the continued viability of the maturity model has been a key to RIMS's ability to retain its position within the ERM community.

Education is the key

One look at this year's RIMS annual conference agenda shows just how far the effort has come. A key development in RIMS's strategy of ERM leadership is constant educational opportunities. As the ERM committee continued to develop their Center of Excellence approach to ERM, it became clear that it would take full-time leadership to reach their goals. As a result of this decision, RIMS hired its first Director of Strategic and Enterprise Risk Practices, Carol Fox. RIMS realized that education at all levels of the corporation was needed and the organization has begun to include a number of specific ERM educational sessions at the annual conference.

To begin with, several Pre-Conference workshops will  be held on both Saturday and Sunday. Two of these workshops will  provide in-depth training on ERM topics. Fox notes that "we tried a similar thing last year and it seemed to be well received."

The more traditional sessions begin on Monday with RIMS providing more than 100 topics on a wide variety of risk-related topics. This year's agenda has a number of ERM topics, as well as Strategic Risk Management topics to assist risk management professionals. In addition, Fox notes a new approach is being utilized at this year's conference called "Thought Leader Theater." She says these sessions will be condensed, shorter learning sessions on a range of risk management topics, but heavily weighted towards ERM. All in all, the conference has a number of choices pertaining to ERM. Additionally, there are more exhibitors who offer ERM-related products and services.

From an educational standpoint, RIMS will again provide its highly successful Fall ERM Conference. Fox states that RIMS "will concentrate its efforts on supporting all risk professionals to strategically implement, maintain and advance their risk programs to capture that value." This conference is two days' worth of educational sessions and discussions designed to provide risk managers with the necessary expertise to develop and enhance enterprise risk management programs in their organizations. However, she points out that this is far from the end of the educational opportunities with regard to ERM. She notes that RIMS has now begun to provide Webinars on specific ERM-directed topics, which will be held throughout the year. One of the major initiatives is a series known as "voice at the top" and will deal with the important issue of interacting with management at the board level.

Other ERM efforts will be the publishing of several executive reports that deal with ERM-related issues. One of the early offers will be an updated edition of the RIMS/Marsh Excellence Survey. This publication should appear shortly and should be available at the RIMS conference. They have already completed the Strategic Risk Management Implementation Guide and have several others in the development stage. Fox notes that while it is important to see where enterprise risk management is headed, "we need to remember that we will not be abandoning our commitment to traditional risk management."


Today there is much discussion about ERM at the board level, and RIMS intends to keep its leadership role and fill the critical educational needs of the industry. It has developed and will continue to strengthen its educational efforts with regard to ERM. Fox points out that it is clear that "most organizations are now realizing the value of ERM and as such ERM is well beyond the tipping point."

RIMS has been able to develop an educational plan that allows risk managers to obtain and maintain recent and relevant information about enterprise risk management. They have now begun to develop a similar approach to strategic risk management, allowing corporate risk manager to expand their knowledge base as broadly as they want. RIMS realizes that the focus of risk management is expanding, with more and more complex risks and increased demands on the profession, and RIMS is establishing programs to assist risk professionals to continue to fill these developing positions.


Click thumbnail below to launch
story in our Flipbook edition

page page

Return to Table of Contents