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Manage emerging risks

Managing the emerging risk landscape

Dougie Barnett, Director of Mid-Market and Customer Risk Management at AXA highlights the need for realism and flexibility in preparation for future risks

19 July 2021

Brokers have shown themselves to be remarkably resilient throughout the pandemic, keeping their people safe and clients satisfied in extremely trying and unusual circumstances.

And while we’ve all learned a huge amount about ourselves throughout this period, there’s one lesson that stands out – no matter how unlikely it may sound, anything can happen.

So, what does this mean for business resilience, for both brokers and their clients? Are we being forced into a world where every single risk must be assumed to be a real and present danger and, by extension, acted upon?

Not according to Dougie Barnett, Director of Mid-Market and Customer Risk Management at AXA. The key to managing the emerging risk landscape, he says, is understanding the new environment and what could harm a business but also to keep it realistic and flexible.

Reflecting on AXA’s response, Dougie says: “We got the balance right – supporting the customer, broker partners and focusing on employee welfare. But more than anything, I think we did well because we empowered our people, gave them the flexibility to make the decisions they had to while providing a support network. We kept everything moving.”

He suggests that brokers should look back at what happened in their own business and analyse their response and the outcomes of that. Whatever that was, he says, brokers need to be honest with themselves about anything that went wrong, what was challenging, as well as what went right and use those lessons to guide preparation for future events. 

Crucially, he urges brokers to reach out for help wherever they can find it, even with insurers: “My team is there to help customers but if a broker comes to us asking for advice or guidance about their own business, we’d be more than happy to help.”

And he believes that brokers are in a great position to provide that same level of support to their own clients.

“Brokers have a range of customers and they’ll know which ones have done well and which ones have suffered, so they have a huge amount of insight and experience that can be shared across their client base,” he says. 

More than anything though, he says that while increased awareness of business resilience is welcome, we all have to work hard to keep things in perspective – there will be plenty of businesses and consultants out there saying otherwise.

“Just because this pandemic happened, you can’t take the view that the world is going to ‘get you’. You still need to be focused and sensible about risk – you’ve got to be realistic,” he says.