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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  15 Sep 2008

Management: Santam Honours SA’s Top Risk Managers


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Chris Ras, General Manager for Risk and Compliance at SBV Services (Pty) Ltd, was last night named “Risk Manager of the Year” at the annual awards function hosted by the Institute of Risk Management of Gauteng, South Africa (IRMSA).

The “Best Government Risk Management initiative” award was won by the City of Johannesburg, while Nedbank Limited received the award for “Most Effective Company Risk Management programme”.

The much coveted IRMSA awards are sponsored by Santam, the country’s largest short-term insurer, in recognition of the importance of risk management as a business discipline. In presenting the awards, Quinten Matthew, Head of Specialist Services at Santam, paid particular tribute to the winners for their specific achievements, the innovation they had demonstrated and their contribution to the evolution of the industry.

“Santam salutes our 2008 Risk Management award winners, all of whom have demonstrated outstanding achievements and have served their shareholders and stakeholders with pride. Through their innovation, creativity and expertise they have helped to promote the discipline of Risk Management and have made a significant contribution to the industry and to South Africa,” he said.

Matthew noted that the risk management discipline has expanded to include the likes of business risk, operational risk, financial risk, compliance/regulatory risk and reputational risk, in response to the increasing realisation of the importance of risk management in driving sustainability.

“A recent study conducted by Deloitte notes that one of the effects of globalisation has been an increase in risks of all kinds, no matter where they operate. “ Whether these risks emanate from terrorist activities, oil crises or East versus West power spats, the report shows the importance of risk management foresight in protecting shareholder interests and providing customer certainty.

“The study shows that executives are often curiously out of touch or poorly informed about important indicators of success. While 86% of executives, according to the survey, say their company is excellent or good at tracking financial results - which normally represent lagging indicators of past performance - only 34% feel the same about their ability to monitor non-financial factors, which can be leading indicators of sustainability,” he said.

According to Matthew, the challenge for an organisation is to have the foresight to identify risk and then, most importantly, to manage the risk based on the company’s risk appetite. He also noted that brokers and other intermediaries have an essential role to play in identifying and targeting growth segments in line with the economic imperatives in South Africa and in building relationships around the concept of risk management.

“The intermediary is in a unique position to provide professional advice and tailor-made solutions to ensure a sustainable and effective risk management solution that includes insurance, as well as to create a true value-based offering,” he said.

Matthew described Chris Ras, the winner of the Risk Manager of the Year award, as a self-starter who had built risk process and structures in his company from scratch, while simultaneously training himself in the intricacies of the risk management discipline.

“Under Chris, the risk philosophy has been firmly embedded throughout his company and is key to the company’s success, this being most evident in the past year when losses were more than halved,” he noted.

Matthew also paid tribute to Nedbank for winning the award for Most Effective Company Risk Management programme for a second consecutive year, and to the City of Gauteng, winners of the Government Risk Management initiative, for successfully forming the first independent municipal risk management committee, which provides oversight on risk management. He noted that the Government Risk Management award effectively broadened the scope and importance of risk management by extending the discipline to the area of service delivery in the public sector.

In conclusion, Matthew said that Santam had been proudly associated with the IRMSA awards for the past number of years, noting that the concept of risk management underpinned Santam’s entire business philosophy.

“Santam’s strategy is based on encouraging people and organisations to manage their risk and, by so doing, to make their lives safer and nicer. In this context, we are encouraged by recognition given by the risk management industry to the role of insurance in adding value to the consumer, and congratulate the industry on its holistic approach to addressing this need,” he said.

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