A Conversation with Andrew Minnitt, CEO Singapore, Aon

In this interview, 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.

How can risk managers become better business managers?

For risk managers to align themselves with business, they must shift their strategy from risk transfer to risk management. This begins with accepting that around 75 percent of the risks we face in business are only partially insurable at best. Instead of focusing effort and investment primarily on insurance, risk managers like you should first be prudent about the areas of business and operations that cannot be insured.

There are 3 steps to doing this that can help you bridge the risk manager-business manager gap:

  1. Map and understand the risks you face – then share them with your C-Suite so that they can provide input and become invested in the risk identification and mitigation process.
  2. Set out solid procedures to define which risks to take on your balance sheet and which to transfer – then table these with your C-Suite.
  3. (As much as possible) use empirical data to inform and support your actions.

How can today’s risk managers be equipped to tackle rapidly evolving risks?

The best way to look at this is through an old adage – ‘no man is an island’. Risk managers like you should feel confident to ask questions, seek opinions from others, and reach out to subject matter experts. Maintain diverse networks and surround yourself with people with different perspectives. There’s no way you can be on top of every single risk every single day, so actively seek help from the people around you. Plus, we now live in a world where a wealth and depth of knowledge is available around you, so read and educate yourself as much as possible.

What are your thoughts on the Black Swan effect, and how it should be managed?

The very nature of the term “Black Swan Event” describes a major unexpected and unpredicted event for which we cannot prepare. In most markets across Asia, a Black Swan event is typically (something like) a cyber attack. In the Philippines, this could also be a natural catastrophe such as a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake or a Force 5 Typhoon directly impacting Manila.

While it’s quite impossible to prepare for a Black Swan event, risk managers can do a few things to ensure their business is in the best possible position when it happens. If the catch phrase in the property industry is “position, position, position” – in risk management, it’s “prepare, prepare, prepare”!

  1. Regularly stress-test standard operating procedures, business continuity plans, and business resilience and resumption plans.
  2. Change your organisation’s thinking about the Black Swan event from if to when.
  3. Ensure that everyone in the business is aligned with you on preparations prior to the event, and actions to take when it happens.

Determine crisis management messages – what to say, and more importantly, what not to say.

How can the C-suite ensure risk management efforts extend beyond just regulatory compliance, and focus on the strategic objectives?

It’s important for the C-suite to drive the initiatives around risk management. Be openly and outwardly supportive of all things risk management-related – in communications to shareholders, board meetings, and town halls. Let everyone in the organisation know that risk management is at the top of the agenda.

For businesses in environments where certain types of risk are prevalent – for example, mother nature events such as typhoons and earthquakes in the Philippines – assure shareholders and investors with positive messages. It’s most critical for everyone – clients, partners, vendors, employees, shareholders, investors, etc. – to know that when things go wrong, the C-suite’s primary focus is on getting the business back up and running in the shortest amount of time and delivering to promises and expectations.

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.