The presidents of the European national risk management associations discuss the macroeconomic risks that individual countries, let alone companies, cannot control, plus the impact of globalisation and the fast pace of change

There are some macroeconomic risks that are beyond the control of a company or, indeed, a single country.

Nevertheless, it is an important part of the risk management discipline and of business strategy to identify them and assess their potential impact on your business and the environment in which it operates. This was one of the key messages at the April 2008 European presidents' round table discussion.

This discussion encompassed a wide area, in the first part covering both macroeconomic and microeconomic risks. Globalisation, climate change, political risks and the accumulation and interconnectivity of risks were among the topics covered. It is clear that the term 'new risks' has to embrace not just something completely new, such as nanotechnology, but also existing risks that are taking on a new aspect and presenting potentially greater impact.

There was also some recognition that companies have been quick to grasp the benefits of globalisation without fully appreciating the risks involved. Rather than turning a risk into an opportunity, they could well find that an opportunity has transformed into a risk!

The fast pace of change and the linked need to react quickly are also producing risk management challenges. In order to meet these, risk managers have to have a fast incoming flow of accurate information.

In contrast, the second part of the discussion focused on specific issues raised by individual participants. There was an illuminating debate on the value of the procurement department's input in relation to buying insurance. And there was consensus that buying insurance – and calculating its value – is rather more complex than most other corporate purchases.

There was some discussion too on the pressures produced by the need to comply with national and European regulations (which sometimes conflict), particularly in relation to a group's internal premium allocations and premium tax. Insurers' claims management performance and AIRMIC's drive to produce an objective index measuring it in the UK was yet another topic

Rarely has a presidents' round table discussion encompassed such a wide range of issues. But we believe that you will find the content illuminating and entertaining!