Blog article

Modern mutuality: We’re all in it together

Liz Green - used Feb 2023

By Liz Green, Executive Vice-President, ICMIF

10 February 2023

At the start of the year, our CEO Shaun Tarbuck shared his blog Delivering on purpose, outlining the action ICMIF has taken to support its members, focusing on their resilience; sustainable investment; and ESG/SDG journeys. He also looked ahead to how our 2023 working groups and roundtables will culminate in an ICMIF Sustainability Summit in London in November.

This inspirational sustainability work is on the minds of many ICMIF member CEOs and, therefore, is rightly an important part of ICMIF’s offering. However, there are two other key components – mutuality and business transformation, which ICMIF’s board believes will contribute towards ICMIF achieving its higher purpose which is creating a safer, more resilient world.

Creating a safer, more resilient world will require collaboration between members with outstanding leadership from within our global network, and those leadership elements are what we refer to as ICMIF purpose-led leadership characteristics. Those characteristics have inspired ICMIF’s member proposition.

So, in this blog, I will explore how ICMIF’s mutuality and business transformation offerings interconnect and support the most common behaviours of our purpose-led leaders at our member companies.

The challenges of the last two and a half years have brought into focus what it means to be a purpose-driven company. And from my vantage point, I can see that the mutuals and cooperatives have certainly got the first-mover advantage because their leaders put people first.

Having worked in the mutual insurance sector for more than 23 years – in both the UK mutual life insurance business and at ICMIF – mutuality is woven deeply into my DNA. I have experienced and observed many examples of how ‘mutuality’ or ‘cooperativeness’ are true enablers and authenticators of a purpose-driven business and I wanted to share what ICMIF views as the most frequently observed attributes of our member CEOs.

They value transparency, accountability and authenticity

I have had the privilege of talking to ICMIF CEOs about their strategies for more than a decade and they regularly reference their higher purpose as a key driver for their decision-making. Why? Because they are truly connected with their own people, their policyholders and the communities they serve. Not because it was “in-vogue”; not because a consultant said they should; but because they believe it leads to the optimum long-term impact for their wider ecosystem.

They have long-understood that employees expect their jobs to bring a significant sense of purpose to their lives, so they connect them with the impact that their organisation is making, through first-hand accounts from policyholders to involving staff in community programmes. They also offer their people a window to an international community via ICMIF’s unique Knowledge Hub; via our Young Leaders Forum; and/or by attending our Advanced Management Course.

These CEOs see transparency, accountability and authenticity as imperatives and value meaningful action above empty words. They are the first on the scene during the best and the worst of times and understand that, every day, their behaviours and actions help connect their teams to their “why”; their mutual purpose.

They are constantly innovating and transforming their businesses

ICMIF CEOs have ambitions for their organisations that span far beyond their tenure, humbly seeing themselves as the temporary custodians of their offices and pledging to leave their organisations to the next CEO, more resilient and with more impact than when they started. They encourage their people to think differently and constantly look for opportunities to develop and add value.

They leverage their ICMIF membership, encouraging staff to learn from ICMIF webinars such as The Digital Mutual series or attend a forthcoming Business Transformation Roundtable. They attend HR Leaders Forums to hear about how the future of work is being interpreted all over the world and read ICMIF’s Strategic InSights reports, such as the latest ICMIF Members Governance Report.

They are willing to share experiences

If you attended our Centenary Conference in Rome last year, you don’t need me to convince you that our ICMIF CEOs are leading with purpose and committed to making meaningful impact. Similarly, attendees at our strategic roundtables, or those watching our Mutual Advantage webinars or who read one of our blogs, will witness ICMIF leaders who see a far bigger picture than most and have a greater propensity to share their experiences and wisdom than the typical CEO. These busy leaders regularly make time to share their purpose frameworks or transformation strategies and proudly describe the highs and lows of their journeys with other ICMIF members when they meet at our conferences, governance meetings or during one-to-one follow-up calls.

They value global context

ICMIF leaders also typically advocate for and promote the strength of our global sector to reinforce their own higher purpose messages. They engage with ICMIF’s LinkedIn and Twitter pages ; use ICMIF’s research to reinforce their own messages; and share these global insights on their internal intranets and during their governance meetings. They also invite ICMIF to help facilitate away-days or thematic sessions for their boards.

They want to make a lasting impact

Our member CEOs often want to make a lasting impact, beyond their national markets, and believe in creating a safer, fairer world for all by playing a part in closing the protection gap via mutual and cooperative solutions.

Following the success of the last ICMIF Foundation 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy, which resulted in 15 million lives being protected by insurance cover in the world’s most vulnerable countries, leaders are this year engaging with the ICMIF Foundation, in partnership the United National Development Programme (UNDP) to deliver a series of Insurance Innovation Challenge Fund awards, which are financial awards aimed at scaling up mutual microinsurance projects. As well as uniquely impacting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Foundation’s technical assistance programme connects expertise and resources within ICMIF member organisations to help address the needs of a micro-insurer. A number of ICMIF CEOs have recognised the professional development opportunities this offers people within their organisation to learn new skills and see strategic challenges differently.

They ‘do business,’ share information and collaborate with other ICMIF members

ICMIF leaders trust their global network and look for ways to ‘do business’ or share insights with each other. Great examples of this can be found in Latin America where, since 2004, a number of ICMIF member have been working together to pool their reinsurance through the Latin American Reinsurance Group (LARG). This can also be experienced at ICMIF’s Meeting of Reinsurance Officials which meets every two years and will take place this June in Iowa (USA) where around 80 member companies will share knowledge and ‘do business’ as part of a Mini Monte Carlo experience.

We really are all in it together!

So, as you can see from this blog and from Shaun’s previous blog Delivering on purpose, it is through meaningful actions where we walk the walk, before talking the talk that will have the most impact.

As our global network boasts so many outstanding leaders, now has never been a better time to leverage your ICMIF membership. Each of your purposeful actions really can result in create a safer, more resilient world.

If you would like to discuss ways in which you and your organisation can better leverage your membership, please contact me.

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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