The annual ANRA conference in Milan is a time to reflect on the progress the risk profession has made in Italy. StrategicRISK reports

One problem with risk management in Italy is not a dearth of rules explaining how companies should govern themselves; instead it is a lack of understanding and awareness from organisations that risk management is worth doing for reasons beyond mere compliance.

This was one of the main themes discussed at the Associazione Nazionale dei Risk Manager e Responsabili Assicurazioni Aziendali (ANRA) conference in Italy, held at the Palazzo Mezzanotte (or Midnight Palace) in Milan.

In front of around 120 attendees, a panel of industry experts said that proper risk management can help organisations achieve their strategic objectives, but unfortunately it is often seen as just a “tick box” exercise.

“For me it’s the culture,” said Peter Den Dekker, president of the Federation of European Risk Management Associations and group risk manager for Dutch international Stork. “Do you really want to do it or are you being forced by a regulator who can penalise you. If executives don’t drive it then attitudes will never change.” But it’s not all bad news, things are improving, he said.

There’s a difference between share-holders and share-traders continued, Den Dekker. Investors who hold onto stock for many years have more of an interest in the long term stability of an organisation, and therefore how well risk managed it is. In contrast, investors pursuing short term gain are less interested in risk management techniques and how it is reported.

Paolo Rubini, president of ANRA, and group risk manager of Telecom Italia told StrategicRISK that he was happy with the way his association had helped increase the professional role of the Italian risk management function. “We are providing help to our colleagues in dealing with their bosses,” he said.

The results of Ferma’s benchmark survey of the risk profession are encouraging, said Rubini, and they show the continued progress of the profession. “However there is still a lack of investment in risk management procedures,” he said. “On the one hand the survey revealed increasing professionalism but there is still a lack of capital available for implementing risk management systems.”

“We don’t need new rules,” Jorge Luzzi, a Ferma board member and group risk manager for Italian tyre maker Pirelli. “We just need additional application of the existing regulations. We need to convince companies that risk management has value or it is worth doing.”

Rubini plans to compare the answers given by his Italian colleagues to Ferma’s survey with the European average and explain his findings in March next year. “Risk managers need to learn to link their activities to the strategic objectives of their company,” he said. The profession in Italy is rarely called to action by their boards it is more often the operational management within a company who sings their praises, he said. “We need the same attitude from the CEO.”

A few risk managers in Italy have visibility at board level but in general they do not, added Luzzi. “But the visibility of Italian risk management is increasing a lot. I believe we are growing and improving. The Ferma survey said the situation is better than before.”