January 2014

Spotlight – In international business, almost every market around the world does things in a different way. This often leads to misunderstandings and unfulfilled expectations. However, different does not need to mean difficult and knowledge of the needs and characteristics of specific geographic markets is an advantage to those who are active in the global economy. These articles help you understand different aspects of the insurance industry around the world, enabling those who do business there to feel more “at home, abroad.”

In furtherance of our tradition of nominating a WORDSTM Personality of the Year, we do not feel that any one individual has stood out in the insurance and risk management arena and we have resisted the temptation to highlight other extremely high-profile personalities who have hit the headlines for various reasons. This gives us the opportunity to widen the scope of people who have made a mark and we did not have to look far.

While the greatest political event since the Second World War would be the fall of communism and the disintegration of the Iron Curtain as a barrier to freedom of many central and eastern European nations,

the greatest economic development has been the transformation of European Union from a cluster of inward-looking nations seeking a reflection of their own economic characteristics in their neighbours to a continent of differing cultures interacting commercially, socially and strategically. It is not perfect as the whingers of the world are pleased to let us know but is it light years ahead of any alternative in the region. It is not only in the EU where our Personality of the Year has played a significant role in our industry but in its 28 countries plus at least six more officially. In reality, however, it is pretty-well all of Europe and beyond because its activities bring it into contact with Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and countries to the east of the Caspian Sea.

The WORDSTM Personality of the Year is a body, or rather a federation of bodies, the national insurance associations of many countries in the region: Insurance Europe. Insurance Europe (http://www.insuranceeurope.eu/), previously known as CEA (Comité Européen des Assurances), represents the largest insurance industry in the world.

Insurance is a dynamic and important part of the worldwide economy, often regarded as an unseen and certainly as an unheralded aspect of the way businesses and individuals cope with unforeseen and untoward events.

For many people, it is the failings of the industry which are the headline-grabbers. Issues such as consumer and shareholder protection, compliance and governance, taxation treatment, insurance/reinsurance market behaviour, addressing demographic challenges in the availability of products and services by way of market initiatives all come within the focus of Insurance Europe. If you take the Key Issues addressed by Insurance Europe which include Solvency II, Stability Issues, Financial Reporting, Insurance Distribution and more, you are looking at someone who sifts through the bureaucracy of laws and directives so effectively that it has become an indispensible part of the process, making complicated issues clearer and easier to handle while at the same time coming up with useful and well thought-out recommendations. For its success in carrying out this role that we have selected this body, Insurance Europe, as the WORDSTM Personality of the Year.