“There is no better time to be in the risk business than right now,” said Dan Glaser, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marsh & McLennan, in his opening address to delegates at the MMC Rising Professionals’ Forum 2019 in London.
“The world around us is moving at such a rate that it is in a constant state of VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity,” he continued. “In the past, it might have been a country, a state or a sector that was in a VUCA state, but today it is the whole world. Every single company is in a state of VUCA – there is no sense of security anymore.”
This heightened state of flux, he believed, has spawned the Age of Risk and as such has elevated the importance and relevance of the risk industry to a higher level than at any time in the history of the sector.
“This Age of Risk has only just begun,” he said. “The risks in front of us are profound. Climate change, unfunded social liabilities, religious fragmentation, water scarcity, cyber securities, AI, robotics – these are the risks of our age.”
Introducing the concept of exponential growth and Moore’s Law, which observed that the number of transistors in a microchip doubles approximately every 18 months, Glaser highlighted the astounding fact that sectors such as AI, robotics, space exploration and synthetic biology believe themselves to be in a stage of exponential growth.
“Could you imagine AI doubling in capability and speed every 18 months?” he asked. “What impact could that have on humanity? What impact could that have on the levels of risk and possibility?”
The world is moving so fast, he added, that it is also in the Age of Possibility and the Age of Disruption, “where nothing is sacred anymore, nothing is safe – but anything is possible.”
These developments, he concluded, are more positive than negative in nature, but that balance would depend on how the industry chose to address them.
“There is no industry that benefits society more than the insurance industry,” he stated. “If insurance did not exist, few people would even leave their houses. There would be no investment, no movement, no advancement without insurance.”
“But as an industry,” he concluded, “we oversell the protection element of what we provide. Yes, insurance is about protection and offering freedom from the emotional and financial burden of loss. But it is also about enablement and creation. That is the purpose of our industry. We each have a great opportunity within our own careers to promote that industry purpose even more.”