Blog articles

Friday, 29 November 2013

Data visualization is nothing new; Florence Nightingale, the great British social reformer and founder of modern nursing, who also happened to be a statistician, used what we would today recognize as a pie chart in 1858 to highlight the fate of hospitalized solders during the Crimean war. This diagram of the causes of mortality in the army in the East was published in “Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army” and sent to Queen Victoria in 1858.

It is a very graphical call to arms on the subject of hospital hygiene, and is the genesis of the modern profession of nursing that...

Thursday, 21 November 2013

As I flew back from our ICMIF conference in Cape Town last week to a quiet if cold United Kingdom, our friends and colleagues from ICMIF’s Philippines member organization CARD MBA were returning back from Cape Town – almost literally – straight into the eye of the storm.

The quite exceptional typhoon Haiyan (the Filipinos call it typhoon Yolanda) has exacted a terrible toll on a country which in recent years has already suffered grievously from other typhoons. CARD’s chief executive Aris Alip tells me that his organization estimates that 160,000 of its members have been severely affected by the latest catastrophe. He and his...

Monday, 11 November 2013

Our 2013 Conference has finished, and those delegates who were still in Cape Town over the weekend would have been relaxing on Saturday, with trips to, among other places, the Cape of Good Hope.

I’m full of good hope for the time ahead for ICMIF, after what I feel has been a very positive three days here.  ICMIF’s cooperative and mutual members have been outperforming the market in recent years, and there was a strong sense at the conference that, with the right strategies in place, our organizations can do even better.  I see no reason why, when we next come together in Minneapolis in October 2015, we won’t see the mutual market...

Friday, 08 November 2013

One clear thought struck me as I sat listening to the presentations today, the second day of our conference here in Cape Town:  the can-do way in which ICMIF’s members deal with the business challenges and opportunities they face,  in a world where standing still is never a possibility.

Geoff Parkinson told a riveting story to start off the day. Thirty years ago, he said, his firm Sunderland Marine, a specialist marine insurer, had done 100% of its business in Britain.  Since then, it has transformed itself into a global mutual, with 85% of its business now coming  from the rest of the world.  Operating in fifty countries can be...

Thursday, 07 November 2013

ICMIF’s first ever world conference on African soil has opened. And how! We’ve come to the end of our first day’s business and now, taking a break in my hotel room, I am looking back on what I feel was an exceptionally stimulating day.

We were enormously privileged to have Francois Pienaar with us, to get us off to a very inspiring start. Francois was the captain of the South African rugby team which (against all the predictions) won the first post-apartheid world cup competition to be staged in South Africa in 1995. The rugby victory was much more than a sporting achievement, however, representing the first time that the whole...

Tuesday, 05 November 2013

Yesterday the Board of ICMIF met around a board room table in Cape Town to take stock of how the Federation is progressing, and what our strategy should be for the future.

It was my task as ICMIF’s CEO to provide a detailed report to the Board of the past twelve months. And the good news, both for me and for ICMIF as a whole, is that I was able to report that ICMIF members collectively are the fastest growing part of the global insurance market. Collectively the global insurance market has grown by 11% between 2011 and 2007. Mutual and cooperative insurers outperformed the market to an astonishing extent, returning growth of 26%....

Tuesday, 05 November 2013

After months of preparation, finally the ICMIF World Conference is almost upon us. The ICMIF team is already here in Cape Town and we are looking forward to welcoming our delegates in a few days. Right now though the hotel and conference centre are buzzing with delegates for the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Conference which is taking place just before our own event. This is the first time ever that both ICMIF and the ICA are holding their global Conferences in Africa and we are delighted to play our part in bringing the cooperative and mutual sector to South Africa. We are also pleased that the arrangement allows some ICMIF...

Friday, 25 October 2013

What does a successful cooperative or mutual insurer look like? I’d suggest that there are five things it needs to do right.

Firstly, it needs to serve its members well by offering the right products at the right prices. It needs to reduce risk and pay claims quickly and equitably. It should be economically efficient and financially sustainable. It should execute its strategy effectively and its governance transparently. And finally, I’d suggest that it needs to invest wisely in its people, technology and systems.

The evidence, I’m pleased to say, points to the fact that cooperatives and mutuals are getting it right. ICMIF’s...

Friday, 11 October 2013

Thinking is something that we all do, it’s as natural as breathing, yet I have never seen one job description where the ability to think is a key activity! There are, of course, jobs that require such reflection and we embrace those thought leaders amongst us; we even celebrate them. Yet when the opportunity to do some thinking presents itself to most of us, then thinking is something that either gets squeezed in to or squeezed out of our schedules. To test this theory ask yourself; have you ever had someone who presented you with a problem and your response in needing to “think about it” is a way of putting them off? Thinking takes time...

Friday, 27 September 2013

The beginning of the month saw the annual Rendez-Vous De Septembre reinsurance gathering, traditionally the first major event of the reinsurance conference season that will see regular meetings of the reinsurance market between now and 1 January 2014, in locations as far apart as Baden-Baden, Beijing and Seattle.

Each year since 1957, senior management from brokers, insurers and reinsurers around the world have gathered in the Principality of Monaco, considered by many as neutral territory in the commercial clashes of the reinsurance market, as it has no indigenous insurance or reinsurance industry. This year discussions were...

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