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Insurers’ Need for Staying Power

(Article Published in the April 18,2013 issue of Business Mirror)

       “Sustainability” or, in older English, “staying power” is not a stranger to Reynaldo De Dios. He has been at it for ten years, addressing positively his and his co-practitioners’ need to learn more about their craft and the sciences behind it.

       This year, on April 24, at the Intercontinental Hotel in the City of Makati starting at 8:30 in the morning, he will be conducting, not just the 5th nor just the 7th, but instead, already the 10th Philippine General Insurance Summit.

       Aptly entitled, “Technological, Regulatory, Weather/Climate Changes: The Insurers’ Advocacy For Sustainability”, the summit next week brings in one forum the region’s experts and leading practitioners who will share both their knowledge and their experience on this crucial aspect of recent life, concern for sustainability.

       Coming together and closing ranks in the extraordinary times of unusually strong typhoons like Ondoy, or a once in a lifetime political event like EDSA I, is normal for us Filipinos. But now that the new normal seems to be (a) a succession of Ondoys, (b) a procession of New Deals every three years when the changes in political sentiment are expressed in elections, and (c) an unprecedented quickness in the occurrence of obsolescence in both methods and machines due to the mushrooming of ever new software and hardware, maintaining one’s bearings, for insurers and insured alike, has become as difficult as keeping one’s course solely by tracking the north star on a most cloudy night. Clearly a summit on sustainability is most relevant for all, particularly for the insurance industry, at this time.

       Participants in the Summit will be welcomed by Mr. Melecio Malilin, who will also act as the chairman for the morning session. Malilin is the Chairman of the Insurance Institute for Asia and the Pacific.

       As befits an event of its stature, the keynote address at the Summit will be delivered by Insurance Commissioner, Atty. Emmanuel Dooc, whose 25 years of involvement in the private insurance business is well-known. What is not as well-known though, is that for ten years prior to his legal career, he was a Special Education Teacher for the blind, juvenile delinquents and indigenous peoples, particularly the Aetas. That, in my jocular view, may have been what had made him specially suited for his present position in the government.

       The presentors lined up by De Dios and their specific subjects during this 10th Summit are certain to keep the audience glued to their seats, if not screaming for more. The first two, Messrs. Emmanuel Que and Roberto Crisol, will deal with where the insurance industry stands right now. Que, who is the current chairman of the Philippine Insurance and Reinsurance Association, Inc. will give an update on the local general insurance market and Crisol, who is President and CEO of the National Reinsurance Corporation of the Philippines, will give the update on the local reinsurance market.

       The geographic picture will then be broadened by Dr. Roger Seliek who oversees A.M. Best’s ratings, information-services and news businesses throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. He will analyze the evolution of insurance regulation in Southeast Asia, with emphasis on its implications on credit ratings. Also to talk along the same lines on the implications of change, this time on capital requirements, is Mr. Derek Wong. Wong is an actuary and is a Managing Director at Guy Carpenter’s GC Analytics Group. His career has been focused on actuarial services, providing solutions to various capital and risk management problems for his clients.

       The problem of sustainability in the face of recurring floods in Thailand and the lessons to be learned from repeated flooding will be the subject of Mr. Adi-Richard Hazaan. He is a self-educated man who had been focused on Asia; though currently based in London, he had consulted for several years throughout the Asean region and was with the Asean Insurance Commission forum of Academic Advisers representing Singapore for years.

       Ideas on achieving true sustainable development through world class risk management, to be presented by Mr. Zhou Jie, will round up the morning. Zhou, currently based in Shanghai, where he is the project manager of FM Global Shanghai, has worked for FM Global for more than 16 years in many countries crossing various disciplines.

       The afternoon session, dominated by the implications of technological developments, is to be briefly opened by Herminia Jacinto, President of the Insurance Institute for Asia and the Pacific. Without much ado, she will pave the way for Mr. Francis Chung who, with his over 20 years of experience in insurance IT management and active involvement in Industry Standards related initiatives in the US, Canada and China, will speak on sustainability amidst technological change. Chung will be followed by Dr. Mike Gault, CEO of the company he founded in Estonia in 2007 called Guardtime. Gault’s subject will be data authentication and cyber liability in a networked world.

       Mother Nature, too, will get her share of attention at the Summit. Mr. Yipei Shen, with his years of experience in Shanghai specialising in corporate finance, analysis, design and implementation of systems and models to improve companies’ processes and risk management procedures, will deal with DFA Modeling of Weather based indexed projects. Then an update will be given on earthquake risk analysis for the Greater Metro Manila Area, jointly to be handled by Dr. Renato Solidum, from our Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and Mr. Mathew Jakab, Spatial Data Manager of the International Group of Geoscience, Australia.

       Finally, the Summit which began local will end global. Mr. Butch Bacani, who is the Programme Leader of the UN’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI), a global framework and initiative to address environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities, will talk on the United Nation’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance. Prior to his joining the UN where he works at the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative headquarters in Geneva, Butch was the Head of Reinsurance at the Pioneer Group in the Philippines and had spent over a decade working with leading insurers, reinsurers and brokers worldwide across all lines of business.

       Rey de Dios, at his youthful age of a couple of years over the 75 passing mark, will I am certain be able to sustain the pace of his Summit till its adjournment at 5:30 pm. I trust his over-flowing audience would too.