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Article | Willis Research Network Newsletter

Willis Research Network Newsletter – Q4 2019

Risk & Analytics|Property|Reinsurance
Climate Risk and Resilience|Insurer Solutions

December 19, 2019

In this winter newsletter, you will find a selection of topics showing the variety of research partnerships facilitated by the Willis Research Network (WRN).

As we prepare to leave 2019 behind, two themes with global reach stand out: an increasing need to accurately quantify the impact of a changing climate on industry and society; and managing human-driven threats in the modern world such as geopolitical risk and technology.

The conversation around climate has dominated headlines and popular discourse this year. Indeed, Oxford Dictionaries has declared 'climate emergency' the word of the year for 2019.  The WRN’s research portfolio has deep roots in earth, flood, weather and climate sciences, and a key development has been to link our research on physical risks to the work of our  Thinking Ahead Institute colleagues on sustainability in the investment industry.  In addition, our wider involvement in the Willis Towers Watson Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI) will help develop new insights understanding to better understand the risk posed by climate change.

Two very recent publications by WRN partners highlight the growing importance of geopolitical risk. Willis Towers Watson and Oxford Analytica’s latest annual  Political Risk Survey Report outlines the increasing frequency and severity of losses caused by political risk. A new arrival in this year’s risk list is ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) shock. Meanwhile, the  Cambridge Global Risk Outlook 2020 highlights that social unrest is the risk which has advanced the most in rankings through 2019, with considerable impact on businesses and their supply chains.  Bringing these themes together we have been looking at the  confluence of climate and geopolitical risk, whilst the importance of technology and the opportunities innovation offers will be a key driver of research next year. 

These themes are at the core of the WRN programme, and I invite you to browse our recently published annual  brochure, which features some of our key partnerships and their achievements. 

We look forward to working more with you in 2020, and I would encourage you to reach out to any of the team to talk about how the Willis Research Network and our partnerships can support you.

Hélène Galy
Managing Director
Willis Research Network



  1. 01

    WRN research fellows give testimony to Congress at the U.S. House of Representatives

    By Geoffrey Saville | December 19, 2019

    Scientists from Columbia University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) were invited to testify to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology in September, in a hearing entitled “Understanding, forecasting and communicating extreme weather in a changing climate”.


  2. 02

    Impacts of climate change on flood risk

    By Geoffrey Saville | December 19, 2019

    New requirements from industry regulators have required companies in the UK insurance market to assess their risk related to climate change. Our experts at Newcastle University responded to the call and helped to develop answers and advice for our clients.


  3. 03

    A changing climate of risk and opportunity

    By Geoffrey Saville | December 19, 2019

    The reality of climate change is becoming clearer. The message from the scientific community has been consistent for many years, but new research continues to provide detail and greater understanding of extreme weather events. Greater alignment between the public and private sector on climate change is riding a wave of interest from the public on environmental issues.


  4. 04

    AI and Emerging Business Models in Insurance

    By Prof. Chris Holland | November 12, 2019

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) poses fundamental questions for the insurance industry. How do AI and other forces shape the insurance industry? Can AI be used defensively by incumbent firms or is it purely a disruptive force exploited by new entrants? Loughborough University and Willis Towers Watson are collaborating on research into the effects of AI on business models, and some answers to these questions are starting to emerge.


  5. 05

    Geopolitical risk: and how experience of the battlefield might help the boardroom

    By General Sir Richard Shirreff | December 4, 2019

    Geopolitical risk impacts all organizations (private and public) globally. Any analysis of geopolitical risk usually means a summary of the usual trouble spots of the world .However, geopolitical risk is now an immediate and potentially existential threat closer to home. General Sir Richard Shirreff, Former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, looks at how some of the hard-won experience of the military can help risk managers.


Recent Events

RUSI Modern Deterrence Autumn conference 
13 th November 2019  
Hélène Galy was invited to speak at the RUSI Modern Deterence Autumn Conference 2019 . The main theme of her speech revolved around the impact of climate change on national secutiry.


Artificial Intelligence and Next-Generation Insurance Services
26 th November 2019 
Loughborough University and the Willis Research Network (WRN) hosted a conference bringing together a range of perspectives on the business application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its role in the ongoing digital transformation of the insurance industry.


Unnatural Catastrophes: Cyber and Geopolitical Risk in the Modern World
5 th December 2019 
The Willis Research Network (WRN) hosted a morning seminar featuring talks and discussions on two research themes that the WRN is currently focusing on: Cyber and Geopolitical drivers of risk.


2020 Cambridge Global Risk Index Launch Event
9 th December 2019  
The Willis Research Network hosted the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies launch event for the 2020 update of the Cambridge Global Risk Index. The conference featured key research from the Centre on modelling catastrophe risk to business activities, as well as provide perspectives on their new and emerging risk challenges

Authors

Hélène Galy
Managing Director of Willis Research Network
Research Manager: People Risks

Stuart Calam
Programme Director of Willis Research Network
Research Manager: Technology Risks

Research Manager: Weather and Climate Risks and Flood Risks

Geoff joined Willis Towers Watson in 2013, and works with the Willis Research Network stakeholders and academic partners to match business needs to the latest in scientific research, and derive tangible outputs for Willis Towers Watson to help advise its clients to advance their understanding of risk from weather and climate related hazards.

His background is in meteorology and climate science, having worked in forecasting for over a decade for the UK Met Office and Bermuda Weather Service, in all aspects of delivering forecast services from media broadcasting to delivering warnings and actionable guidance on extreme weather phenomena such as tropical cyclones and heavy rainfall leading to flooding.

He holds a BSc in Environmental Science from the University of East Anglia, and a Masters (with distinction) in Climate Change from University College London. He is also an active Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society.


Research Manager: Earthquake, Volcanic, Tsunami and Geological Risks

Rosa joined Willis in 2016, as a subject matter expert in catastrophe risk management for the WRN. Since then, she has been creating and managing a large network of international partnerships between the scientific community and industry stakeholders, to foster innovation and shape service offering through science.

She is an award-winning PhD statistician (UPC), has an MS in Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research (NYU), and a Bs in Business Administration (USC). She is an international reference in the volcanology community for 10+ years of research on probabilistic modelling of volcanic risk for decision-making, has a tracked record of publications in international peer-reviewed journals, and contributions to several books.

Before that, she spent 10+ years in the corporate sector (JP Morgan Chase, GE Capital) applying predictive modelling and data science to credit risk quantification, price optimization, portfolio risk management, capital allocation, and risk rating. She lived and worked in four different countries and speaks five languages.


Lucy Stanbrough
Research Manager: Emerging Risks

Setareh Mayel Afshar
Digital Marketing Assistant for Analytics Solutions and Willis Research Network 

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