WBN NEWS RELEASE : DENVER GLOBAL CONFERENCE WRAP-UP:

Conference Takeways on Insurance, Benefits & Education …And One Very Large Insurance Buyer

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA

—More than 200 members of the Worldwide Broker NetworkTM and leading insurance company executives gathered in Denver as a preamble to the 2014 Annual RIMS Conference. They celebrated WBN’s 25th anniversary, heard the thoughts of one of the world’s largest commercial insurance buyers and a review of the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Risk assessment, while also delving into 2,5 days of product, management and educational sessions, all focused on cross-border transactions. The conference ended with WBN’s traditional welcoming reception for attendees of the RIMS conference which kicked off Monday.

The Conference marked the 51st semi-annual gathering of member firm partners and insurance company executives which rotates between cities in North America each April and cities on other continents the following October. (The October 2001 conference was cancelled following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.)Highlights of the conference included:

 

“WBN SPEAKERS’ SERIES” FEATURING WAL-MART’S RISK MANAGER

Kicking off the conference, David Stills, Vice President-Risk Management at Wal-Mart, described Wal-Mart’s worldwide operations before discussing the client/broker relationship from the customer’s point of view. He said that determining Wal-Mart’s risk bearing capacity, leveraging increasing amounts of data, and optimizing risk were the primary focus of his 600-member staff.

But his most attention-getting comment came in response to a question from the audience: “Brokers seeking our business should leave the sales pitch back at their offices; just show us the intellectual capital that your team can bring to the relationship.”

Stills’ thoughts as risk manager for a company that serves 250 million customers each week in 26 countries struck a particularly responsive chord with an audience that itself represents nearly 100 independent brokerage and benefits consulting firms with offices in as many countries on six continents.

ZURICH EXECUTIVE REVIEWS WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM’S 2014 GLOBAL RISK REPORT

Continuing the Conference’s global view theme, Zurich Insurance Group’s Chief Risk Officer, Barry Franklin, reviewed a recently released analysis of responses from more than 700 attendees at the world’s foremost gathering of world thought leaders. He said that while there now is more focus on climate, financial and employment risk, those under age 30 are generally rating risks more severely than older age groups. He also pointed out that the percentage of insured damage caused by natural disasters is decreasing, with those uninsured losses driving subsequent macroeconomic costs higher.
Millennial Generation Entering the Workforce In a presentation sponsored by Chubb Insurance Group, Warren Wright, Executive Vice President of LifeCourse Associates, discussed the emergence of the Millennial Generation, defined as those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, who now comprise 32% of the U.S. population and 50% of the workforce. He said that this emerging generation has been raised differently from previous generations. “It would be a mistake to think of them as damaged goods, as many Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers managing them do.” His advice: “understand what motivates them—what turns them on or off, focus on their interests in team performance and recognition, give them the micromanagement they prefer (in contrast to preceding generations), and harness the achievers among them.”

CHUBB FOLLOWS WITH TRAINING THEME ADVANCES

Elizabeth McDaid, Chubb’s Director of Agency Education, said that education was never more important now that a new generation is filling the ranks of the insurance workforce. “A survey at the end of 2013 showed that only 33% of those perceived as ‘high performers’ in their firms are also believed to have the ability to move forward…and 40% actually will end in failure.”

McDaid and Chubb’s Kathleen Ellis unveiled a curriculum of 2,5-day sessions that Chubb is developing to help build necessary leadership skills, a unique program in which WBN’s Young Professionals Group is partnering. The first track will be conducted at WBN’s semiannual conference in Santiago, Chile, in October, with subsequent sessions at the two Global Conferences in 2015.

OTHER INSURANCE COMPANY PRESENTATIONS

AIG’s Ralph Mucerino, Mark Willis and Mark Camillo provided updates on their company’s strategies while Head of Network Security Camillo illustrated his presentation with news that the EU issued a new regulation in March with a “Right to Be Forgotten” Mandate in which individuals can request that companies delete their data.

ALLIED WORLD ASSURANCE COMPANY’S

Todd Germano, Generali’s Filippo Cinelli and HGI Gerling’s Dr. Lothar Becker each reviewed world business strategies from their respective company’s perspective.

NAVIGATORS’

Glen Bronstein, executive vice president and chief claims officer, told conference attendees that “security breaches at public companies are now emerging as a significant D&O headache as the potential for derivative action lawsuits emerges, with even the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission looking at how companies disclose the risks of such breaches.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS SECTION BECOMING INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT

With more than 50 of WBN’s members offering Employee Benefits and Consulting Services in attendance, the parallel EB tracks at the semiannual conferences continue to broaden and deepen.
Theo Lutgendorff, Global Partnership Director at Zurich Group, provided the Employee Benefits Group with unique insights into the global landscape of services offered, focusing particularly on the brokerage and consulting needs and expectations of multinational clients.

Scott Aldsworth of High Street Partners, now known as Radius following an April merger combining two major providers of overseas operating consulting, told a benefit-only session that clients should not underestimate the effects of culture on expat and impat employees serving outside their home countries.
“Many companies focus their attention and resources on developing sales and physical facilities in new countries, but come up short in the HR and other so-called back office areas. They should be deciding on what their staffs really need to focus on and outsource the rest to professionals experienced in working in-country. It is too easy to underestimate the hurdles that bureaucracies can throw at a company’s plans and timetable, even in those countries that are foreign investment-friendly. And those companies coming into the U.S. must realize they are dealing with the equivalent of 50 small countries since each state has its own laws and regulations governing employee benefits and other support needs.”

WBN FOUNDERS RECOGNIZED FOR FORESIGHT

An underlying theme of the Denver conference was WBN’s 25th anniversary celebration. At the opening night dinner, each attendee received a 12-page printed history of WBN, painstakingly recorded by Alec Finch of AFL Insurance Brokers, London. He and Manfred Karle of Suedvers Gruppe, Germany, are the two remaining members of the original 9 founders of WBN.

Alec Finch and Florian Karle, representing Manfred, were presented with mantel clock mementos in recognition of their foresight. As recounted in the new WBN history, WBN’s predecessor group was a response by 9 insurance brokerage firms in Western Europe to the creation of the European Union and its new policies encouraging trade within the region.
Over the next 25 years, WBN was to grow to nearly 100 insurance brokerage and employee benefit consulting firms in more than 100 countries around the globe. Today, the network also includes Associate Members who represent specialists in worldwide captives; global engineering services; risk management services; insurance brokerage management, analysis and mergers & acquisitions; international legal services; actuarial services; forensic accounting; and international employee benefits.

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