'We cannot live in a risk free world,' that was the key message of IRM’s annual conference

Delegates at the annual conference of the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) in Hatfield UK were told by a diverse team of keynote speakers that we cannot, and should not want to, live in a risk free world.

The attempts to try to remove all risk, by treating the most severe and or unlikely events as if they have a realistic chance of happening, is an over reaction which is constricting society’s activities.

As financial markets were shaken by the latest series of events, keynote speaker Rick Haythornthwaite, chairman of the UK government’s Risk and Regulation Advisory Council, cautioned against the kneejerk response that ‘something must be done’ in the wake of every problem. Rather, a measured and rational response based on evidence and cost-benefit analysis was required.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights pressure group Liberty, argued that the biggest risk of all would be losing our unique liberties because of over-reaction to events.

IRM’s chief executive, Steve Fowler, said, ‘The clear message from the IRM’s Risk Forum is that risk management should be used to manage the serious risks, and not to restrict day-to-day life for the sake of something that is only a theoretical possibility.’