If someone dared you, as a business leader, to maintain a tradition of excellence within your business model while challenging the traditions of how your business was established, how would you respond?
Would you be up for the task? How would you measure your success?
Respecting your roots but not shying away from the speed of change is pretty simple in concept but can be daunting in execution. It’s exactly this sort of challenge that I think our industry ought to be willing to address in 2017.
My goal this year is to challenge The Council: continue finding smart ways to make our firms better and stronger while recognizing that what we have here is special—and built on a 104-year-old foundation.
The first step in all of this is embracing a changing business world. We all know that uncertainty leads to opportunity, that out of discomfort comes innovation. For our industry in particular, things like diversity, technology, and the evolution of risk management come to mind. We have a lot of room for improvement in all of these areas, and with your help, we can move the needle forward. How do we further efforts around women in the industry? How do we bring millennials into the fold?
It is one thing to ask tough questions—it is quite another to spend time and energy on answering them. Addressing diversity in our industry warrants our focus. At our last Council Board meeting, I asked my fellow board members to look around the room at the 45 business leaders around the table. There was one woman and no minorities. In today’s world that is unacceptable and is a microcosm of other issues our industry needs to address. While there is a lot of work to be done, there is also a lot of opportunity within our reach. The Council is in the process of launching a diversity initiative, and seeing this through will be one of our top priorities for this coming year.
Technology and data are also high on the radar. One of our goals for 2017 will be to increase our industry’s use, adoption and innovation around them. If topics like data analytics and blockchain don’t keep you up at night, or worse, you don’t even know what they are, I challenge you to join us in moving the ball forward for the benefit of our entire industry. We’re surrounded by a wide range of new business models we’ve never really seen before, and it’s critical they’re understood and embraced to make customer business interactions seamless.
There will be other issues for us to tackle as the year goes on—many of which you’ll read about in this very magazine—and I assure you that we will be ready to provide useful and actionable insights. In closing, I’m thrilled to be working with you all—my colleagues in the industry—and I look forward to another great year ahead for The Council.