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Key takeaways from our ‘A Year in the Life of the Strategic CRO’ series

Insurance Consulting and Technology|Reinsurance
Risk Culture

By Dave Ingram | January 29, 2020

In this series, we showed how a strategically-focused chief risk officer can make a difference in the planning process and throughout the year.
Making ERM more strategic

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About our 'A Year in the Life of the Strategic CRO' series

In our ongoing A Year in the Life of the Strategic CRO series, risk experts from our Insurance Consulting and Technology team, Willis Re and other parts of Willis Towers Watson cover how a strategically focused CRO can drive corporate strategy through the enterprise risk management planning process and throughout the year.

A little over a year ago, we received a question from a chief risk officer (CRO) who wanted to know how she could play a more strategic role. We talked it over amongst the Willis Towers Watson folks who provide enterprise risk management (ERM) services to insurers around the globe and decided that we would suggest that CROs had to accomplish two critical objectives to play a more strategic role:

  1. CROs must continually exhibit a strategic perspective throughout the year in performing all their responsibilities in order to increase the chance of being invited to participate in strategy and planning discussions.
  2. CROs must ensure that their participation in their initial strategy and planning discussion also exhibits their strategic perspective to increase the likelihood of being asked back to strategy and planning sessions.

As we went from the general to the particular, 28 Willis Towers Watson experts contributed to 36 blog posts with a wide variety of suggestions to help the aspiring strategic CRO. We called the series of articles “A Year in the Life of the Strategic CRO.”

Now, the year is over, and we are ready to wrap this up. We decided to do that with a webinar that was presented in December 2019.

The following webinar recording has eight of us summarizing over 20 suggestions of specific steps around five principal activities that a CRO can take to accomplish those two objectives:

  1. Strategically prepare for strategy and planning discussions regarding risk environment, profile and tolerance; plans from risk owners; and rating agency and regulatory capital requirements
  2. Participating in strategy and planning discussions, considering risk appetite and tolerance; opportunities that can be discerned from risk register and SWOT analysis; M&A opportunities
  3. After planning, determining risk prioritization, reporting mitigation, targets, limits and checkpoints; model assumptions and reports; capital allocations; and return on equity for final plans
  4. The everyday strategic approach to ERM (board reporting; risk committee meetings; interactions with risk owners; risk culture, analysis, tolerance and limits; stress testing; emerging risks; risk profile and environment; major loss events updating risk register
  5. Strategic focus of capital model

The final advice is: Stay out of the weeds. The goal of enterprise risk management isn’t to achieve the best analyzed business result. It’s to achieve a better business result.

Contributors to this webinar were Daniil Shalmiyev, Brian Ingle, Mark Mennemeyer, Mike Wilkinson, Alice Underwood, Paul Simmons and Kenneth McIvor.


Head of Willis Re ERM Advisory

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