In these CEO Connect messages, Ty Birkett provides an oversight of high-level issues and developments.
The brief but intense storm last week in Sydney highlighted two things to me. Firstly, regardless of the tendency for a lot of people to take time off over summer, claims and risk management do not cease and in fact intensify at this of the year. Secondly, four days without power is a very effective way at avoiding on going debates with the kids about screen time!
In a final CEO Connect for 2019, I wanted to provide an update from me as the year moves toward a close and many of our Members prepare to shut for the holidays.
2019 has been a year of uncertainty in the higher education and research sector. A surprise election result, continued debate over funding, discussions around foreign influence, heightened cybersecurity issues, and the role of international students are just some of the issues Members faced during the year.
For Unimutual, 2019 was a year of increased communication and Member engagement. We worked hard to expand the manner in which we engage with and help Members. With everyone busy with their day jobs, we continue to look for more ways to engage with you, but also to create opportunities for you to engage with each other. This year we’ve sent out 5,865 info emails, published 50 pieces of content and 52 LinkedIn posts – so far.
Thank you to all those who participated in Member visits, webinars, technical committees, Member forums, workshops, and our Annual Conference – as well as those who continue to use our website and range of tools. We are always looking for effective ways to engage and so are open to suggestions and encourage Members to reach out on any issue.
Personally, I was delighted to visit and meet so many Members this year, and the most enjoyable conversations are always around what our Members do on a day-to-day basis. Having sufficient protection is an enabler of your jobs rather than the main focus, and it was wonderful to see firsthand the level of innovation and strategic thinking amongst our Members in their roles.
Positive news for the membership is that, for the financial year to 31 October, Unimutual will report a small surplus for 2019/20 (around 3% of contributions). In addition to reinsurance, Unimutual manages the risk of adverse results through holding reserves, and this year end result will see reserves well within the target range. The annual report will be provided early in the new year but please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like more information.
Apart from two smaller non-university Members leaving the Mutual (one to be part of a global program, one incorporated into their associated University) we were delighted to retain all other Members. We were also very happy to welcome new Members Edith Cowan University during the year and Trinity College (University of Melbourne) at renewal, which means the Membership is currently 27 University Members and 29 non-University Members strong.
As you heard from us and others, the insurance and reinsurance markets have turned significantly in recent years. Large commercial insurance placements have been very challenging for the sector with significant price increases and difficulty in sourcing capacity.
As mentioned earlier, claims and risk management are year-round efforts. From our side, we are fortunate to have a team that is always available to support in this regard. Reflecting on their work, Simon has produced his annual ‘Simon Says’ summarising what happened in 2019 and what to expect in 2020. I won’t steal Simon’s thunder, but he provides an update on the strengthening of the Unimutual Risk Management team, information on the claims of 2019, and Christmas closedown checklists for your reference. I’ll refrain from commenting on his closing jokes, apart from stating that I am confident Simon will continue his good work in 2020 for Unimutual rather than any alternative career!
Our wishes are with all those effected by storms and bushfires. We continue to have ongoing dialogue with Members about their exposures.
On behalf of the Unimutual Board and Regis Mutual Management, I would like to thank everyone for their support in 2019 and wish everyone the best for a healthy and happy holiday season. We look forward to catching up in 2020.
Chief Executive Officer, Regis Mutual Management Ltd