The winners of the ICMIF EUR 10,000 Young Scholar Award have been announced

22 November 2022

Winners of ICMIF and MIC bursary - Centenary Conference 2022

Earlier this year, ICMIF announced that it had established a new bursary award of EUR 10,000 for the most promising young scholar(s) (under 35 years of age) in the field of mutual and cooperative insurance. The bursary was launched in conjunction with the Mutual Insurance Conference (MIC) organised by the Mutual Research Network and which took place on 24 October 2022 in Rome, immediately before the ICMIF Centenary Conference, also in Rome (25 to 28 October).

As the world’s only global network from cooperative and mutual insurers, ICMIF’s aim is to encourage young scholars to get involved in studying how mutuality is a strategic enabler and true authenticator of a purpose-led insurer.

There were 13 submissions for the bursary which were considered by the judging panel which included members of the ICMIF Senior Management Team and three professors from the Mutual Research Network. The submissions were considered by all involved as being a very encouraging response to the first ICMIF Young Scholar Bursary Award.

The winners were chosen from submissions from young scholars in response to the MIC call for papers (see below), or optionally a recently published scientific article (2020-2022), a research plan of their PhD thesis, or a research project plan that relates to cooperative and mutual insurers.

The final recommendation from the judging panel was to split the award into two categories; best academic paper and best research concept.

The winners of the 2022 ICMIF bursary are:

Best academic paper: Ownership structures and risk taking in the German property-liability insurance market by Frederick Schuh, Research assistant at the Department of Business Administration, Risk Management and Insurance Studies at the University of Cologne (Germany); and Lukas M Noth, Quantitative Portfolio Manager, DWS Group and MSc Business Administration and Finance Graduate, University of Cologne.

Best research concept: The survival of insurance is cooperative by Belén Gómez, Advisor to the President and Coordinator U-RUS, Río Uruguay Seguros (Argentina)

The ICMIF Young Scholar Award of EUR 10,000 will be divided equally between the two winning submissions. Each award is a personal reward for the scholars.

Speaking about the awards and the response to the call for papers, Liz Green, Executive Vice-President, ICMIF said: “We are delighted by the level of interest shown in the new ICMIF bursary and the high quality of responses to the call for papers from the young scholars. It bodes very well for the future of our sector to see growing interest in research in the mutual and cooperative insurance model. We are very grateful to the Mutual Research Network for their collaboration on this important project and for their introductions to the academic world which will help further our cause of spreading knowledge and awareness of the benefits of our model.”

The winning submissions

Ownership structures and risk taking in the German property-liability insurance market – Frederick Schuh, Lukas Michael Noth

This paper, published in the Journal of Co-operative Organisation and Management in 2022, examines whether the organisational form of a property-liability insurer influences its risk taking.

The authors discussed how stock insurers have the ability to raise additional capital due to their easy admission to financial markets, while mutual insurers are unable to access capital markets in order to refinance and concluded that the transfer and transformation of risk is approached differently in mutual and stock insurers. They hypothesized that stock insurers have a higher risk appetite than mutual insurance companies.

The paper looked at data from 62 German property-liability insurers between 2000 and 2019, comprised of 39 stock and 23 mutual insurers with a collective GWP of EUR 53.44B in 2019. Examining the asset and liability sides of balance sheets, they found that stock insurers take higher risks in underwriting and investments than mutual insurers, confirming their hypothesis.

The judges chose the above paper for the below reasons:

  • It has very sound scientific methodology
  • It expands the literature on German organisational forms which previously was sparse
  • The paper is the first to explore the risk implications of different organisational forms in the German insurance market

The survival of insurance is cooperative – Abstract by Belén Gómez

In her submission, Gómez discusses the origins of insurance, how communities faced the consequence of misfortune collaboratively, and how insurance is inclusive by nature. In light of this, insurance may be considered the natural precursor to the current conception of corporate social responsibility and sustainability. The first insurance companies sought to be profitable and, simultaneously provide protection in solidarity against unforeseen future events. Today, insurance impacts (directly and indirectly) on each of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

However, insurance faces an existential problem; either it returns to its origins, hand in hand with sustainability or it disappears in the face of new consumer habits; obsolete organisational models; and the socioeconomic inequity and climate change that are reducing its market.

This research will consist of an econometric study, addressing the entire Argentine insurance market from 2012 to 2022, highlighting the start of the Covid 19 pandemic. It will investigate the premise that, when sustainability actions are carried out, invoking the co-participation of workers and generating economic, social or environmental value for interest groups, this generates profitability. The hypothesis is that there will be a stronger correlation between sustainable actions and profitability when it comes to Argentine insurers that are cooperatives or mutuals.

The judges chose the above research concept for the following reasons:

  • It aligns with ICMIF members’ interests
  • It is a new piece of research that can be leveraged
  • The author has a PHD, works for one of our members and is a committed mutualist who deeply believes in our model and, with support, will continue to research proof-points for our sector

Gómez is from Argentina which is where ICMIF will showcase the output of her research at ICMIF’s 2024 Biennial Conference and at the MIC’s fringe conference which will also take place just before/after the ICMIF event.

Speaking after the awards were announced, Frederick Schuh said: “We are extremely grateful to be the first recipients of the ICMIF Young Scholar Award. We want to thank Shaun Tarbuck as well as Liz Green, on behalf of all members of ICMIF, for the amazing award. We are very much looking forward to further scientific cooperation with ICMIF.”

“It was a great honour to present our research on risk preferences at the MIC in Rome. We received valuable feedback from renowned practitioners and scholars. We developed some promising ideas for further research in mutual insurance. We want to thank lot Antti Talonen for pointing us to this incredible event; Giorgio Di Giorgio for having the event; and Jakša Krišto for his comments on our research. We also have to thank Ty Leverty, Annette Hofmann and Heinrich Schradin for their comments and sparking our initial interest in mutual insurance research,” Schuh concluded.

Belén Gómez recorded a video message about her research concept and the award saying: “Insurance can change the world. But our evolution is cooperative and mutual as was our genesis”

ICMIF is a strategic partner of the Mutual Research Network and is keen to bring academics interested in the mutual and cooperative insurance sector together with the leaders and future leaders from ICMIF member organisations.

Photo shows (left to right): Antti Talonen, Associate Professor, Tampere University (Finland) and member of the Mutual Research Network; Frederick Schuh, Research assistant at the Department of Business Administration, Risk Management and Insurance Studies at the University of Cologne (Germany); Liz Green, Executive Vice-President, ICMIF; Lukas M Noth, Quantitative Portfolio Manager, DWS Group and MSc Business Administration and Finance Graduate, University of Cologne; and Shaun Tarbuck, Chief Executive, ICMIF

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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