As leaders of Europe’s risk community congregate in Brussels to celebrate the association’s 40th anniversary, editor Mike Jones considers FERMA’s journey until now and beyond

Mike Jones

The world is constantly changing at an ever-increasing speed and the scope and complexity of risk this creates for businesses is incredibly difficult to manage.

Those risk professionals whose role it is to do precisely that, now work under extreme pressure and often without the recognition they deserve for steering their respective companies through a diverse range of threats and also exploring opportunities for growth.

It is hard to imagine there is a risk manager in Europe who does not have cause to be grateful for the work of FERMA. It is even tougher to envisage where the profession itself might be without this fantastic organisation.

Since its inception 40 years ago, FERMA’s primary mission has been to promote greater understanding of risk among risk professionals – sharing knowledge and experiences and breaking down national borders.

Back then, there was no internet, the computer age was very much in its infancy and supply chains were predominantly local and rarely global.

While Europe’s risk profession was starting to mature in 1974 it bore little resemblance to what it has become today. Not only has the risk landscape changed dramatically, so too have risk managers both in terms of their numbers and also their education. Today young people entering the risk profession largely do so out of choice where once they might have become risk managers by default after initially embarking on an entirely different career pathway.

Education and continuing programmes of learning have become vital to professional development and FERMA continues to champion this cause. Achieving an internationally recognised standard is at the heart of FERMA’s certification plans and it is an objective which the organisation has worked tirelessly to achieve in recent years, despite many obstacles placed in its way.

Just as risks cannot be considered in silos, nor can the majority be constrained by national borders – not even within Europe – and FERMA has also sought to bring the risk community together across the continent.

To do this has required strong leadership. The determination and vision of FERMA presidents past and present has been key to making the organisation the success it is today.

Current president Julia Graham is no exception and her first year in office has seen her promote a number of important causes, most notably gender diversity.

In addition, she has also travelled thousands of miles both across the continent and the world beyond to promote FERMA and also to strengthen further the organisation’s relationship with risk management communities wherever they might be.

It is difficult to predict the precise nature of risks companies might face in 40 more years but one thing is certain, FERMA will be there to support those tasked with dealing with them every step of the way.

Meanwhile, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate FERMA and its members on reaching this wonderful milestone and wish it every success for the future.