Speaking at the opening of the first XL Capital Group Congress, a global risk conference focused on "Thought Leadership for a World at Risk", Mr. O'Hara said: "Organizations that understand risk when making strategic decisions have the best chance of striking the right balance between risk and reward - a balance which is fundamental to profitable and sustainable growth."
Noting that the business world sometimes adopts a blinkered view of risk, he told close to 400 attendees: "Narrow definitions of risk often reflect a limited appetite for risk, one that determines the very way we tolerate, respond or react to it."
He recommended that companies instill an awareness of risk and uncertainty in their corporate cultures to align risk management strategies with business objectives. He suggested that they determine their appetite for various risks, think of them as interlinked, and never ignore those that cannot be quantified, such as reputational risk. Mr. O'Hara also stressed that companies should expect the unexpected and involve everyone - from the board of directors down - in the risk management process.
"The closer we draw to understanding the changing nature of risk, the closer we will come to understanding change itself and ultimately the pivotal importance of leadership," Mr. O'Hara concluded.
During the two-day conference, a diverse range of international speakers and panelists will critically examine major economic, political, and social issues with the aim of helping Congress attendees gain a better understanding of the changing face of risk and its evolving impact on the business world.
Speakers scheduled for today are: Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute; Noreena Hertz, Cambridge Professor and anti-globalization icon; Dr. Jan Pronk, President of the Kyoto Conference and 1998 - 2001 Dutch Minister for the Environment; William S. Cohen, 1997 - 2001 U.S. Secretary of Defense; Mike Moore, 1999 - 2002 World Trade Organization Director General and Prime Minister of New Zealand; Dr. Theo Waigel, 1989 - 1998 German Minister of Finance; Dr. J. Craig Venter, President of The Center for the Advancement of Genomics; and Jonathan Aiken, anchorman for CNN International.
An official Congress website containing speaker profiles, location details and other general information can be accessed at www.xlcapitalcongress.com.
XL Capital Ltd, through its operating subsidiaries, is a leading provider of insurance and reinsurance coverages and financial products to industrial, commercial and professional service firms, insurance companies, and other enterprises on a worldwide basis. As of June 30, 2003, XL Capital Ltd had consolidated assets of approximately $39.2 billion and consolidated shareholders' equity of approximately $7.6 billion. More information about XL Capital Ltd is available at www.xlgroup.com.