Hong Kong-based vice president of risk management for DFS Group, Bob Sweeney, shares some of his strategic successes

“A couple of things that we’ve done seem to have really improved our risk profile and our relationships. One is developing the business continuity management programme (BCMP) and sharing that with the underwriters so they’re aware of what we’re doing, where we’re doing it and how we’re doing it. That has given them the opportunity to reduce our rates and/or improve our terms and conditions, because we are actively addressing our risks. The BCMP isn’t just put on the shelf. It’s exercised, which has generated positive effects when implemented in the midst of the super typhoons that grazed one of our operations recently.

“Another is having a risk-management forum where we gather our primary underwriters and brokers for a conference at one of our locations. Senior management speaks. I speak. People from operations speak, and also give a tour of that operation. We also have presentations from each of the main players – the principal brokers and underwriters. It develops a bit of dynamic tension in that they’re all sharing. But I think it also creates camaraderie and a sense of being part of a team. The fact that they can get a feel for the quality of our people and operations really helps bring the risk profile alive for them. They can see I’m not just telling stories; I’m really proud of what we do. I think that gives them comfort about the risk, and a sense of ownership, as well.

“We have a panel of insurers who are partners with whom we can work to develop a programme that will respond to our needs, and to their needs as well. So when we do have an event – because I’m assuming that at some point in time we’ll have a claim of some size – we’ll resolve it and when all is said and done, everybody is still with the programme and we can continue to move forward.

“I also want it to be recognised by them that we are spending a lot of money on mitigating our risk, so that’s reflected in the rates and their ongoing support. I think we’ve been able to do that with the panel that we have. We communicate about this quite a bit. We haven’t had a major claim yet, and the proof is always in the pudding, but I strongly believe that we will be able to settle it properly and quickly, then move forward after that.”