Blog article

Delivering on purpose

Shaun Tarbuck 2022

By Shaun Tarbuck, Chief Executive, ICMIF

9 January 2023

At the beginning of 2022, I wrote a blog entitled The future is filled with purpose and the concluding paragraph stated “Let 2022 be not just about our centenary but also about the next century and the increasingly important role mutual insurers will play”. It was definitely a challenge laid down to the mutual and cooperative insurance sector. So, looking back at last year now, how did we collectively start on the next 100 years’ of purpose-led mutuality?

Reflecting back on 2022, ICMIF’s centenary year, I believe it was an exceptional year which culminated in an inspirational (our members’ words, not mine) Centenary Conference in Rome in October. I won’t dwell on this as I have covered the Centenary in my vlog which was sent to members last month. At the Conference, we launched ICMIF’s new strategy, ‘Leading with purpose and impact’, for the forthcoming four-year period under our new Chair, Rob Wesseling, President and CEO, Co-operators (Canada). We also launched our new mission which is ‘To inspire and assist members to build and sustain a purpose-led, resilient future’.

The Conference in Rome certainly provided a great start for the “inspire” part of our new mission, with major launches of measurement tools for both resilience and for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We also launched the Insurance Innovation Challenge Fund with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which will build on the success of our inclusive insurance programme, the ICMIF 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy. The tricky part now is how to ‘build and sustain a resilient future’ and, as we heard from many speakers at the Conference, this is not easy to do, nor is it easy to get to scale to deliver the level of impact needed. There was, however, an inspirational response from so many of those assembled in Rome, saying “we are in this together” as a global network and, if we stick together, we can achieve our collective goals.

The collective achievements of ICMIF are showcased at our Biennial Conferences. The next one will take place in 2024 in Buenos Aires (Argentina, World Cup winners!) in less than two years’ time. This means our collective work must start immediately in order to highlight what can be achieved by ICMIF members when we next meet in Argentina.

As you can see from the image above, it has taken two years to innovate and create these new tools that will now assist ICMIF members in measuring their impact with both underwriting and resilience. The ICMIF-calibrated Insurance SDG Calculator, co-created by ICMIF members and the Swiss Re Institute, under the auspices of the UN Principles for Sustainable Insurance (UN PSI) iSDG initiative, was launched at the Rome Conference. It is the first model to measure the SDGs and is a pioneering impact measurement tool for underwriting that can future proof insurance businesses. Not only that, if embedded into insurers’ underwriting strategies, it will give them a business advantage that is sustainable and aligned to the Paris Agreement. We have already had several ICMIF members sign up to implement the tool in the first quarter of 2023 since it was launched last year. The more members that complete the ICMIF-calibrated Insurance SDG Calculator, the more impact we will collectively have. It would be great to say that 40-50 members have completed the ICMIF-calibrated Insurance SDG Calculator and that way we can have two annual ICMIF benchmarks by the time of the Buenos Aires Conference.

The other measurement tool launched at the Conference was the ICMIF/UNDRR Resilience benchmark, created by several ICMIF members in conjunction with ICMIF and the team at the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). This will be operationally launched in Quarter 1 2023 for members to complete and hopefully will mimic the success of the ICMIF-calibrated Insurance SDG Calculator.

The third part of our purpose-led impact is in the field of investments. This month, we have launched the third ICMIF Members  Sustainable Investment Report which shows that ICMIF members have now invested USD 759 billion in sustainable investments, over 50% of the assets under management of those members which completed the survey. Wouldn’t it be great to get to USD 1 trillion by the 2024 Conference.

All these are inspirational targets but I believe they are also achievable targets. I know many ICMIF members are right at the beginning of their sustainability journey, and it can be daunting, especially with the tsunami of sustainability regulation and taxonomies which many of you will face in the next few years. I hear it regularly from overstretched sustainability specialists at member organisations who say they can’t do the “future-looking” business work because they have to do the compliance work too. I believe the answer is simple, if you do the future-looking initiatives, such as those mentioned above, then you will always be ahead of the compliance. It depends on where you allocate your vital resources; you can’t avoid the compliance part but then again, you can’t ignore the business opportunity either. It’s about striking the right balance.

The other part of our new mission is to ‘assist members to build and sustain a purpose-led future’. We have provided the tools, but a sustainability strategy is about bringing all the great things mutuals do under one board level sustainability strategy whilst, at the same time, developing new themes and ideas. This is what ICMIF is good at – sharing best practice. In 2023, we are going to start a series of virtual best practice meetings for members which will take place every two months, looking at the three areas mentioned above: the SDGs; resilience; and investment. At the end of the year, we will also hold an ICMIF Sustainability Summit in London (UK). It will take place on 1-2 November 2023, bringing together ICMIF members to share and showcase all the great initiatives that are giving real impact.

I hear many industry leaders saying we need to turn talk in to action, I believe ICMIF and its members have already started that journey, whereas many other insurers are still talking. The inspiration and vision is the easier bit, perspiration and hard work are now needed for the delivery and real impact. Let us together lead the industry into a future filled with purpose and impact.

For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub 

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