February 9, 2023

Building a Closer Alignment between the Risk and Insurance Professions

Insights International London Market

Pursuing Better Together with Julia Graham

The latest episode of Arch’s ‘Pursuing Better Together’ podcast series features Julia Graham, CEO of the Association of Risk and Insurance Professionals (Airmic), whose career has spanned the worlds of risk management and insurance. She firmly believes that a collaborative approach is more important than ever to keep pace with the rapid evolution of risk.

Julia Graham’s experience gives her a 360-degree understanding of risk that few others could claim, having spent many years on both the underwriter’s and the risk manager’s sides of the table.

She believes that significant overlap between the two perspectives is necessary to find effective solutions. “I’ve never really understood how the two subjects could be divorced,” Julia says during our podcast discussion.

A Natural Synergy

“If you don’t understand the context of the company, how the company ticks, how the company works, and how the company is organised, and its risks, how on earth can you try to organise insurance portfolios for it? So, for me, risk and insurance have always naturally belonged very closely with one another.”

From starting her career at Zurich as an underwriter, she moved to Royal Insurance, where she climbed the ranks and was eventually appointed as the firm’s first head of risk management in 1994.

Julia later served as the first head of global risk management for Royal Sun Alliance and in 2004 moved on to become director of risk management and insurance for international law firm, DLA Piper. As a trailblazer in the risk management profession, she was the ideal candidate for her current role leading Airmic.

Effective risk management goes to the very heart of an industry’s sustainability and resilience and Julia suggests that insurers put a value on that connection.

“If you want to be brutal about it, well risk-managed businesses make more money, they’re more successful,” Julia says. “We’ve been great promoters of that with the insurance industry — they should reward businesses for being able to demonstrate that they pay attention to managing risk, rather than treating all risks the same.”

Better Together

In line with Arch International Insurance’s brand promise of “Pursuing Better Together”, Julia believes that the speed at which risks evolve today and the potential for a “domino effect” of connected risks are powerful arguments for a collaborative approach.

“Connected risk is talked about a lot today, but it’s not a new concept,” she says. “The difference today is the speed and the velocity at which change occurs and the complexity of the world. That makes those connections much more complicated.

“I always assumed it was my role to look at all risks at an enterprise level. And that’s become part of the language of risks these days with ‘enterprise risk management’, but it’s true — you have to look at everything as an integrated portfolio.

“Equally, you should be looking at insurance in the same way. There are often no neat boundaries between the different classes of insurance, and therefore ‘better together’, for me, applies to both looking at risk and looking at insurance.”

The sharing of knowledge that occurs when organisations from different industries work together is also key to promoting risk awareness and broadening risk perspectives. Julia has experienced this in Airmic’s work with bodies such as the Business Continuity Institute, the British Standards Institute and the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors.

“The faster the world moves and the more integrated and connected it becomes, the more the lines between what we do get blurred,” Julia says. “You can’t have neat demarcation lines between the first, second and third lines of defence. Collaboration is the name of the game and I see only more collaboration with peer organisations in the future.

“There’s no space for silos. They don’t belong in a world that is increasingly connected. We have to work together. That is the way the world is operating, and we have to respond to it.”

About Arch Insurance International Podcasts

Welcome to Arch Insurance Insights podcasts, available on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

During our Pursuing Better Together series, we’ll hear from luminaries both inside and outside of the insurance industry about how they have “pursued better” within their chosen professions.