Interview: A Conversation with Andrew Minnitt – Part III

In the third part of this interview series, Aon’s Andrew Minnitt shares his insights on questions posed by risk managers in attendance at PARIMA Manila 2019 Conference that the C-Suite Panel did not get an opportunity to address on the day.

What is the most important question a risk manager should ask the CEO?

The assumption we will make here is that the risk manager has an open channel to ask direct questions to the CEO. In that case, the most important question is likely to be, “What strategic changes are you intending to make with the business over the next 12 to 36 months, which could impact the risk framework in which we currently operate?” Once the CEO has outlined where the business is going, a useful follow-up question in your role as a risk manager could be, “Can you (the CEO) and I (the risk manager) have an open discussion about the risk mitigation steps we need to take in the context of this business plan, so that we can minimise future risk impact?”

What if a stakeholder mentions a risk, but only in passing? How can risk managers drive the necessary conversations to encourage better understanding?

No risk can ever be mentioned just as a throwaway. Whether it’s a business leader saying something fleetingly to the risk manager, or a risk manager trying to engage with business leaders who may not have a full appreciation of the risk, it’s critical to be able to thoroughly explore and explain the risk from all perspectives. The best environment for a business is one where an open conversation can be had about any risk at all, big or small – and the risk manager must have the right to ask questions about standard operating procedures, assess current practices in relation to industry benchmarks, and put forth the appropriate risk mitigation strategies.

How should SMEs apply risk frameworks to their business?

From a risk perspective, the principles within a risk framework for an MNC are just as relevant to an SME. More importantly, SMEs should stop thinking of themselves as small and less relevant businesses. They should start seeing themselves as future MNCs (or whatever other growth aspiration they have), so that they can apply risk frameworks today that will remain effective even 20 years from now. Besides, why can’t an SME today be the next Google tomorrow?

How do you move organisations towards their desired risk culture?

First of all, it’s really important to set the tone and future ‘look and feel’ of what the desired culture may be, what lies within that culture, and craft that story so that everyone buys into it. Then, drive this desired culture forward and drive it through a combination of push and pull. In the last Q&A, we spoke about finding a balance between the ‘stick’ and ‘carrot’. So, encourage people to get involved with incentives; but for risks where mitigation is critical, set penalties for non-implementation. It’s impossible to run a business where absolutely nothing goes wrong, so you want to create an environment where you can afford to make mistakes and your people can see that it’s still okay – because your risk culture is strong, risk management strategies are in place, and the business can cope when things don’t go according to plan.

ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE

Andrew Minnitt is the CEO of Aon Singapore Pte. Ltd since 1st January 2019, having previously been the CEO of Aon Insurance & Reinsurance Brokers Philippines Inc. since November 2014. As the CEO he is responsible for all solution lines under the Aon brand. He also holds management responsibility for Aon in Vietnam.

Andrew has garnered 30 years within the insurance industry. His experience includes holding senior management positions in South Africa, Hong Kong, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and now in Singapore.