|A maximum of 90 CEOs from insurance companies around the world|
The Geneva Association is an international think tank for strategically important insurance and risk management issues.
The Geneva Association identifies fundamental trends and strategic issues where insurance plays a substantial role or which influence the insurance sector. Through the development of research programmes, regular publications and the organisation of international meetings, The Geneva Association aims to enhance the understanding of risk and insurance matters and acts as an information creator and disseminator. It acts as the voice of the largest insurance groups worldwide in the dialogue with international institutions. In parallel, it advances—in economic and cultural terms—the development and application of risk management and the understanding of uncertainty in the modern economy.
In this role, it is primarily concerned with studying climate risk and the role insurance can play in disaster risk reduction; the rising costs related to ageing populations, either in long-term care, age-related illnesses such as dementia, or retirement funding; liability concerns; and the issue of financial stability in insurance and the development of an efficient regulatory framework.
Established in 1973, The Geneva Association, officially the “International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics”, is based in Zurich, Switzerland and is a non-profit organisation funded by its members.
The Geneva Association membership comprises a statutory maximum of 90 chief executive officers (CEOs) from the world’s top insurance and reinsurance companies. It organises international expert networks and manages discussion platforms for senior insurance executives and specialists as well as policy-makers, regulators and multilateral organisations. The Chairman of The Geneva Association is currently Mike McGavick, CEO of XL Catlin.
The general secretariat handles the daily operations of the association. Its work is directed by the secretary general, and the deputy secretary general and head of insight. Currently these positions are held respectively by Anna Maria D'Hulster and Antoine Baronnet.
All of The Geneva Association's activities are pursued by means of research, publications and the organisation of international conferences. In addition, The Geneva Association organises international expert networks and manages discussion platforms for senior insurance executives and specialists as well as policy-makers, regulators, academics and international organisations. The Geneva Association’s annual General Assembly is the most prestigious gathering of leading insurance CEOs worldwide. Speakers at The Geneva Association’s seminars have included Nobel Prize winners such as Kenneth J. Arrow, Josef Stiglitz, as well as important figures of the political and economic arena such as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde; former U.S. Vice President Al Gore; Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne; and Governor of the Bank of England and Chairman of the FSB, Mark Carney.
- Mr. Emil Frey, general manager, Mannheimer Versicherung (Mannheim);
- Mr. Georges Martin, president, Royale Belge (Brussels);
- Mr. Ernst Meyer, general manager, Allianz (Munich);
- Mr. Fabio Padoa, administrator, Assicurazioni Generali (Trieste); and,
- Mr. Bernard Pagezy, president, La Paternelle (Paris).
The constitutive assembly of The Geneva Association took place in Paris on 27 February 1973, at the headquarters of La Paternelle (today part of the AXA Group). The following companies were represented by their president or CEO: Allianz, Münchener Rück, Aachener & Münchener, and Victoria for Germany; Commercial Union, Royal and Mercantile & General for the United Kingdom; Erste Allgemeine for Austria; Royale Belge for Belgium; UAP, AGF, Paternelle, Préservatrice and SAFR for France; Generali, RAS, Reale Mutua, INA and Fondiaria for Italy; Nationale Nederlanden for the Netherlands, and Swiss Re for Switzerland.
The first president of The Geneva Association was Prof. Raymond Barre, French prime minister from 1976 to 1981.
The Geneva Association was established for the purpose of promoting economic research in the sector of risk and insurance.
Former Presidents of The Geneva Association:
- Raymond Barre †, Paris (1973-1976)
- Fabio Padoa †, Trieste (1976-1983)
- Julius Neave †, London (1983-1986)
- Reimer Schmidt †, Aachen (1986-1990)
- Brian Corby, London (1990-1993)
- Jan H. Holsboer, Amsterdam (1993-1999)
- Walter Kielholz, Zurich (1999-2003)
- Henri de Castries, Paris (2003-2008)
- Martin J. Sullivan, New York (2008)
- Jacques Aigrain, Zurich (2008-2009)
- Nikolaus von Bomhard, Münich (2009-2013)
Former Secretaries General of The Geneva Association:
- Orio Giarini, Geneva (1973–2000)
- Patrick M. Liedtke, Geneva (2000–2012)
- John H. Fitzpatrick, Geneva/Basel (2012-2014)
Today, The Geneva Association has members from 28 countries around the world. Its members are the chief executive officers of the largest insurance companies in the world, and they are members in a personal capacity. The statutory limit to the number of members is 90. Applications of new members are examined by the board of directors at the proposal of the chairman and, if recommended, are submitted to the general assembly for approval by majority vote.
Key research topics
Financial stability and regulation
After the financial crisis erupted in 2008, The Geneva Association set up a special working group specifically to analyse the relationship between systemic risk, financial stability and insurance. The association has since published ten reports, studies or articles on various aspects of financial stability and regulation in insurance, including the identification of systemic risk, designation methodology, surrenders, insurance and resolution, variable annuities, and global capital standards.
Through both the Insurance and Finance and PROGRES programmes of The Geneva Association, there has been an ongoing dialogue with the IAIS and other supervisory bodies. In the discussions on systemic risk regulation however, a multitude of organisations such as the G-20, the IMF, the OECD to name but a few, have become involved and influential in the setting of new insurance systemic risk regulations. As a result, the association has broadened its discussions and on several occasions, has engaged these other organisations directly in the form of open letters or comments to address points made.
In May 2008, following a mandate from its members at the 2008 General Assembly, The Geneva Association began its Climate Change and Insurance (CC+I) research project in response to one of the most multi-faceted challenges to the insurance industry since its inception.
On 6 September 2010, The Geneva Association and three other initiatives (ClimateWise, MCII and UNEP-FI) launched a joint statement that calls on governments worldwide to harness risk management techniques and insurance expertise to help implement climate change adaptation measures in the developing world. In the context of the increasing economic and human costs of climate change in the developing world, the statement seeks to highlight how governments can unlock significant potential to increase the protection and reduce the vulnerability of developing world populations and economies.
“The insurance industry is uniquely positioned to provide specialised services for countries and businesses facing climate risks worldwide. Insurers have the expertise to develop a broad range of affordable private insurance solutions for climate risks. Insurance mechanisms are an effective tool to promote climate related risk management and reduction; The Geneva Association recognises that no stakeholder can succeed alone in solving the challenges of climate change. Insurance can and should be a strong complementary mechanism in a wider framework of adaptation.”
In 2011, the name of the project was changed to Climate Risk and Insurance (CR+I). The objectives of the climate-linked research are to identify and analyse:
- issues that are of specific relevance to the insurance industry, such as the likely range of future claims costs, new business opportunities and scenario testing; and
- external challenges to be addressed at the political, educational and social levels, such as the role of governments and public-private cooperation, to mitigate the impact of natural catastrophes.
To this end, The Geneva Association has issued several reports and studies on climate risk and disaster reduction, such as a review of 2011 marked in particular by the tsunami in Japan and, most recently, a study on the warming of the oceans.
The Climate Risk Statement On 20 May 2014, following The Geneva Association's 41st General Assembly in Toronto, 67 chief executives of the world’s leading insurers confirmed their commitment to The Geneva Association’s Climate Risk Statement – a set of guiding principles on the substantial role insurance can play in global efforts to tackle climate-related risks. The statement provides the foundations on which the direction of future climate-related initiatives by The Geneva Association will be based.
This statement confirms the Kyoto Statement signed in 2009, with additional signatures and reflecting the latest scientific evidence. Michael Butt, chairman of AXIS Capital and co-chair of the Climate Risk and Insurance working group, said: "The Climate Risk Statement Provides a reference point for policymakers, non-governmental organisations, customers, as well as the insurance industry itself, on the ways in which insurance can complement global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Our industry can make a considerable contribution to global efforts to reduce the impact of climate change, but reaching its full potential will require greater collaboration with governments and global governance bodies such as the United Nations."
The Statement received the full support of former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore, who spoke at The Geneva Association's General Assembly in Toronto: "The insurance industry has long ago taken the initiative on climate risk, and with this statement commits to do even more. As an industry it has the capacity to work with policymakers on the mitigation of climate-related risks. If market forces are leveraged and elected officials and regulators are engaged wisely, insurers have so much to offer, and can help the world deal with this serious issue. Most people don't want to think about long-term risk. Now that our world is facing the gravest risks it has ever faced, the world should turn to insurers for advice. In turn, insurers must be more vocal about the challenges they see."
The cost of pensions and retirement policy challenges are among the key issues in policy responses to the European sovereign debt crisis since 2010. The challenge of financing retirement is largely due to improved longevity and lower fertility rates that are not properly represented in the cost of retirement. Adding to this concern about how to support a growing number of pensions living longer lives is the increase in age-related illnesses such as dementia, and the health-care costs of an ageing population.
The Geneva Association has been studying these issues through its Life and Pensions and Health and Ageing programmes for many years proposing solutions to the challenges they raise that are now more urgently needed than ever.
The Public Pensions Crisis in the U.S.
On 3 December 2013, Detroit became the largest city in the U.S. to become legally eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Its ballooning deficits and large pension shortfall are not an isolated case, however. Across the country, states have posted funding shortfalls or more than a trillion dollars.
In its report on this crisis, The Geneva Association examines the issues at the root of this crisis and suggests that the non-payment of annual required contributions and an unbalanced structure to pension planning are among the most significant challenges to overcome.
Executive summary of the report
• A 2010 report by the Pew Center on the States highlights the trillion-dollar shortfall facing state and local retirement systems in the U.S. due to policy choices and a lack of fiscal discipline, namely the failure to make annual payments for pensions systems at actuarially recommended levels and expanding benefits without considering their long-term costs. The majority of states (34) have a funding level below 80 per cent.
• The Geneva Association has long advocated a four-pillar approach to sound pension planning: (1) a universal public system such as Social Security, (2) an occupational pensions system supported by employers under government financial supervision, (3) private savings using financial intermediaries and (4) continued employment, through the removal of barriers to partial employment of retirees.
• Excessive reliance on one of the four pillars—particularly a public system or private savings only—strains public finances and/or an individual’s ability to finance retirement adequately. The Geneva Association has also highlighted the unnecessary losses of human capital resulting from restrictions on the employment of retirees. Human capital, i.e. the ability to earn income, should be valued, particularly in societies with ageing populations.
• The Geneva Association calls for more in-depth study of solutions to the pension crisis the U.S.
Meetings, seminars and conferences
To achieve its main goals, The Geneva Association organises or co-organises a number of meetings, seminars and conferences. The most important meeting of The Geneva Association is its general assembly that takes place every year. At this occasion, key economic issues are discussed by members, the CEOs of the world’s leading insurers, special observers including regulators and guest speakers from inside and outside the industry. In 2010, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, provided a keynote speech. Stemming from General Assemblies, as of 2010, The Geneva Association produces General Assembly Reviews, giving a hindsight view of discussions and presentations having taken place at the meeting. The Geneva Association regularly organises international conferences which are linked to its research programmes.
Prizes, research grants, and awards
In its role of promoting research in risks and insurance economics, The Geneva Association also awards a series of prizes and research grants every year. It also awards two research grants for submissions, usually in the form of a doctoral thesis, carried out in the field of risk and insurance economics. Subsidies of up to CHF 3,000 are also granted to authors of university theses on risk and insurance economics to help defray printing costs and to support the publication of high quality work.
The Geneva Association / IIS Research Awards The Geneva Association and the International Insurance Society (IIS) have joined in a programme with business leaders in insurance to sponsor applied research in the insurance area. The purpose of the research programme is to create original, practically oriented research which addresses current business issues and problems of concern to senior insurance executives around the world. The programme is designed to fulfill a need of business to investigate subjects which directly influence daily business operations and operational business concerns or issues on a practical level. Researchers present the research selected to business executives at the yearly meeting of the International Insurance Society. The research is published and distributed by both the IIS and The Geneva Association in a special edition of The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance—Issues and Practice. Research Awards for the best-qualified papers are presented in an amount up to $10,000.
The Ernst-Meyer Prize The Geneva Association awards every year the prestigious Ernst-Meyer Prize for university research work, usually in the form of a doctoral thesis, which makes a significant and original contribution to the study of risk and insurance economics.
Research Grants Every year, the association offers two grants for research into risk and insurance economics, on various subjects in economic theory and practice.
The Geneva Association publications take six different forms in addressing its various audiences:
- Two academic journals, The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance—Issues and Practice and The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review (formerly The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance Theory);
- Research reports, presentations and white papers on key issues of concern to the industry, policymakers and academics:
- Ad hoc reports on major themes discussed throughout a part of the year, otherwise known as The Geneva Reports;
- Seven different newsletters;
- Conference Papers, or working papers from conferences and meetings; and,
- Books written by The Geneva Association staff and/or external collaborators.
The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance—Issues and Practice Founded in 1976 and published quarterly by Palgrave, The Geneva Papers publish papers which both improve the scientific knowledge of the insurance industry and stimulate constructive dialogue between the industry and its economic and social partners. It is essential reading for insurance academics and researchers, insurance industry executives and other professionals who are searching for a deeper insight into the strategic options for their sector. It bridges the gap between these groups, highlighting overlapping areas of interest and providing mutually beneficial research and dialogue.
The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review targets academics and university scholars in economics. The Review is published by Palgrave Macmillan in annual volumes of two issues. Its purpose is to support and encourage research in the economics of risk, uncertainty, insurance and related institutions by providing a forum for the scholarly exchange of findings and opinions.
Research reports, presentations and white papers  The Geneva Association publishes research on key issues such as financial stability and climate risk (e.g. ocean warming). It issues presentations in support of its research (e.g. a cross-industry benchmark study comparing the 28 banks designed as 'global systemically important' and 28 of the largest global insurers), while white papers are intended primarily to respond to draft policy papers presented for public consultation by regulatory bodies.
The Geneva Reports  Series tackles issues of strategic importance to the insurance industry that warrant special attention and particular analysis. The series is published on an “as appropriate basis” and is available both in printed and electronic versions. Topics covered have included the effects of climate change, disaster risk reduction, global ageing and retirement funding, and the credit crisis.
Newsletters  Seven newsletters on the main research activities, as well as on World Fire Statistics, are published throughout the year. They are published biannually, except for Insurance and Finance and the World Fire Statistics. They are disseminated in hard copy and in the form of e-newsletters.
Conference Papers  These are the working paper series of The Geneva Association. These documents present intermediary or final results of conference proceedings, special reports and research done by The Geneva Association. Most of these documents are available freely on The Geneva Association’s virtual library, except for those in restricted use, which remain in the private area. The Geneva Association Working Paper Series Etudes et Dossiers appear at irregular intervals about 10-12 times per year. Distribution is limited. Hard copies are automatically sent to all of The Geneva Association’s members.
Books The Geneva Association publishes books in relation with its research programmes, such as reports on systemic risk and insurance, inter alia the seminal report on Systemic Risk in Insurance - An analysis of insurance and financial stability published in March 2010, and the book The Performance Economy republished end of 2010. All information on Geneva Association publications are available online.
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- "Research reports, presentations, white papers". genevaassociation.org. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
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- "Compendium of Publications" (PDF). Genevaassociation.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2015.