The way risk is managed is one measure of a society and its reach. Modern man, with more extended kinship links, survived because he had a greater network than the Neanderthals, whose artefacts' origins indicate a much smaller territorial range.
In the event of adverse conditions a strong and widespread network remains a valuable protection against downside risk.
On the principle of "it's not what you text message it's who you text message", it can be argued that networks provide opportunities for advancement, which is all about managing upside risk.
The City of London is home to a very advanced and venerable network, arguably the best in the world. It owes some of its success and many of its failings to the old boy element.
But some of the newcomers, and that includes me, are impressed by the way the physical proximity allows for ideas to be brought to the attention of many key players quickly and for them to be honed through discussion with many different interested parties. Market research is one of the ways to manage upside risk, to reduce the uncertainties in a proposition. The London Market and the network it represents have an edge in this area.
The fact that newcomers are quickly absorbed into the London Market network strengthens it. It is not a closed shop, it does not try to exclude foreigners; quite the contrary, they are key to its purpose. It suffers like any long established network from unnecessary activities and some downright dubious ones. It is protean through constant renewal, not only by accepting new people, but by offering opportunities for people to recycle themselves.
Having lived in Japan for 18 years I can say that it can offer far better opportunities than any Japanese network that I know of. It provides individuals with upside risk opportunities to find employment, promote services, create new businesses, solve problems and to take risks.
Airmic has been celebrating the pursuit of excellence at this conference. That pursuit is particularly concerned with maximising upside risk so that companies can create value. Absence of insurance or lack of affordable cover not only exposes companies to downside risk that they are uncomfortable with, it may even cause the reduction or cancellation of investment plans. Insurance does not just act to restore the situation after a loss; it enables a company to take more upside risk .
Risk management, of which insurance is a vital part, also enables companies to create value. The networking at this conference contributes to this process by helping people to share ideas. I would argue that this contribution is as valuable as ever in view of the challenges we face and the pace of change in our business.
This is why we welcome people from whatever background to participate, and why I am delighted by the number, quality and range of delegates this year.
Without networks modern man would still be limited to operating over short distances. But before we get carried away by how wonderful the London Market is, with all the advantages of its physical proximity, we should realise one thing – even Neanderthal man's network range was greater than a square mile.