Thursday, 20 December 2012

To be perfectly frank we started this year as a disparate cooperative movement that rarely cooperated and didn’t therefore move our sector forward. But fast-forward a mere 12 months and now we find our movement more unified, more determined to cooperate and more motivated to grow.

Yes, that might be a rather inward looking conclusion to what was meant to be an externally focused United Nations year, but it is my belief that a unified cooperative movement can achieve anything. And after a lot of hard work from around the world, it is most satisfying to be able to say with confidence that the cooperative goal set at the beginning of...

Friday, 14 December 2012

This week’s blog is a guest blog which has been kindly written for ICMIF by Joe Annotti, President and CEO of the American Fraternal Alliance, USA; one of ICMIF’s members. It offers a fascinating insight into the world of fraternal societies in the USA.

What do you think a fraternal benefit society is?

We asked that question to hundreds of people and the responses we received were funny, eye-opening, and…wrong. My favorite was from a man here in Chicago who said, “I think it’s probably like a college fraternity, only with more money and less beer.”

And while most people are in the dark about what fraternal life...

Friday, 07 December 2012

After spending almost three weeks on the road, a number of things were circling around my mind on the flight home from Istanbul.

There was of course relief that despite some minor set backs – the opening speaker not turning up in Kenya, internet and power breakdowns during the microinsurance simulation in Tanzania and the final version of our video failing to download at the International Microinsurance Conference - we were able to deliver our vital messages coherently and I hope, in an engaging, memorable way.

After working in microinsurance and Takaful cooperative insurance for more than 15 years you learn to take these ‘...

Monday, 26 November 2012

While sitting in the airport at Buenos Aires waiting to board my flight home after the 20th ICMIF Americas Annual Conference I had plenty of time to reflect on the event. It had been three days of thought-provoking presentations and discussions among the 150 participants who had travelled from more than 15 countries around the Americas region to be there. Argentina is just about as far south as you can go in the world and it’s a long journey for most of the delegates. So what value do our members get from attending these types of events? How do they justify spending precious time out of the office?

Federations, associations or any...

Friday, 16 November 2012

Falling returns on investments, the rising incidence of natural catastrophes, downward pressure on premiums: these are all factors which have led many organisations to manage purely for the short term and as a result lose sight of long-term organisational goals. Future-protecting your organisation whilst surviving tough current economic conditions is, it would seem, one of our industry’s greatest management challenges. The success of any long-term strategy is, of course, subject to conflicting, unpredictable, external influences; in particular macroeconomic tensions like those of the last four years. However, the insurance industry...

Friday, 09 November 2012

Last week saw the culmination of the UN International Year of Cooperatives with the Cooperatives United World Festival in Manchester, UK. Over 10,000 delegates (including 9,000 from the general public) attended the Festival which was another inspirational event that brought cooperators together from over 90 countries.

The event included the ICA Expo which was targeted at both business to business cooperatives and also to create awareness of the diversification of the cooperative business model for the general public. There was also a “Cooperative Living” area which was specifically targeted at introducing young people and kids to...

Friday, 26 October 2012

I was at a learning and development seminar recently when another delegate asked me during the coffee break “What learning opportunities does ICMIF offer that I cannot find anywhere else?” A short answer could have been “None” as he was not from the mutual or cooperative sector and our training and development courses are strictly for ICMIF members only. However, after a morning of listening to the seminar speakers it was nice to chat with someone so I gave a longer answer.

Our role at ICMIF is to help our member organisations to develop their people to become better leaders and managers who can then contribute more to the success...

Friday, 19 October 2012

True Progressivism was the title of the lead story in ‘The Economist’ this week. This excellent article was primarily about the widening gap between the rich and poor and was a call to action for governments around the world to think differently in order to to tackle inequality without damaging economic growth. This was a challenge to governments to find a solution where entrepreneurial spirit and equality can be natural bedfellows. The article began by comparing the last time when this was a major problem in what was known as the ‘Gilded Age’ at the end of the 19th century. Government policies then were to kick start the ‘progressive era...

Friday, 12 October 2012

It has been a while since my last blog and a lot has happened since I last put pen to paper but this week I feel inspired to share some recent experiences with you. Why am I inspired? Because I am at the Quebec 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives where more than 2,500 cooperative business leaders are gathered to discuss and debate the future of the mutual and cooperative sector. The congress is being hosted by ICMIF member Desjardins Group whose team, under the leadership of President and CEO, Monique F Leroux, has been planning this landmark event for over two years.

The event was certain to be a resounding success even...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Having spent more than nine months as Senior Vice President, Communications, for ICMIF I have come to appreciate how significant the word ‘reputation’ is to our members.

For many people “reputation” represents an invisible, intangible differentiator from the competition – an advantage that helps to grow business during the good times - and the bad!

So how much do we really understand about this treasured asset? And, if we accept the need to actively manage and report on our financial assets, why don’t we do the same when it comes to the reputations of our own organisations?

In order to address both questions, it is...