Financial Risk Forum links textbook knowledge to real industry application

‘Advances in Risk Management: Emerging and Disruptive Solutions’ covers a range of risk topics

The University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner III Center for Insurance and Risk Management, in association with the Johnson Investment Institute and Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), recently held the inaugural UC Financial Risk Forum, “Advances in Risk Management: Emerging and Disruptive Solutions.”

Moderated by Steve Slezak, associate dean, academic programs at Lindner and founding director of the Center for Insurance and Risk Management, in-person and virtual attendees heard from three panelists:

  • John Guo, PhD, senior vice president, head of consumer and commercial modeling and analytics, Fifth Third Bank
  • Lisa Ponti, PhD, vice president of institutional outreach, GARP
  • Marcus Schmalbach, PhD and CEO of Ryskex, a provider of a blockchain-based ecosystem for alternative risk transfers and insurance solutions, and an associate professor at ESCP Business School (Berlin)
A man in gray suit and glasses speaks during a forum.

John Guo, PhD, senior vice president, head of consumer and commercial modeling & analytics, Fifth Third Bank, speaks during the Financial Risk Forum. Photo by Danielle Lawrence.

The following topics were covered, with Guo, Ponti and Schmalbach extending their expertise in each sector while also weighing in on wide-ranging risk management queries and scenarios offered by Slezak and the audience:

  • Analytics and credit risk
  • Regulation and risk management
  • Climate risk management and corporate sustainability
  • Disruptive risk trading solutions: practice in blockchain and artificial intelligence
  • Financial risk management future and career opportunities
  • The future of risk management

Guo supplied insight into his department at Fifth Third while also touching on his experience in modeling analytics, loss forecasting, data management, credit policy, portfolio risk management, and consumer and commercial stress testing.

Ponti provided background on GARP — a membership organization for risk managers whose initiatives include professional certification programs, financial risk courses and more — and noted that risk managers are “very much in-demand” and that they “look to be that way for the foreseeable future.”

“Forces like climate change and the global pandemic have highlighted to companies the need to have staff schooled in the tenets of risk management,” Ponti said.

Two students talk before the start of a forum.

Students Jon Shumaker (left) and Brayden Patton chat before the start of the Financial Risk Forum. Photo by Danielle Lawrence.

Schmalbach also touched on parametric insurance. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, parametric insurance covers a “policyholder against the occurrence of a specific event by paying a set amount based on the magnitude of the event, as opposed to the magnitude of the losses in a traditional indemnity policy.”

“You can program information like this on a blockchain and use the smart contract to fulfill parametric solutions within our industry,” Schmalbach said. 

Brayden Patton, BBA ’22, and the president of the UC chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, was searching for knowledge on emerging risks within the insurance and risk management industry.

“I believe that continuing education is very important for students to understand a constantly evolving industry,” said Patton, an insurance and risk management major. “In addition, I believe that students can best benefit themselves in the higher education sector by surrounding themselves with individuals and professionals that are smarter than themselves.” 

A man speaks in front of a crowd during a conference.

Steve Slezak (standing with microphone) speaks to the crowd at the Financial Risk Forum, with panelists John Guo (sitting next to Slezak), Lisa Ponti (bottom left of the projector screen) and Marcus Schmalbach (bottom right) looking on. Photo by Danielle Lawrence.

Jon Shumaker, who is enrolled in an MBA program with a financial management focus, attended because of his interest in risk management methods and networking with "like-minded folks." One of Shumaker's conclusions was that "methods of risk management are/will be changing, and traditional organizations will have to adapt."

A few days after the event, Guo summarized what attendees should take away from his presentation and the event itself. 

“It provided [a] learning opportunity for UC students, linking the textbook knowledge to the real industry applications,” he said.

Featured image: Steve Slezak (standing with microphone), associate dean, academic programs at Lindner, moderates the Financial Risk Forum, with panelists John Guo (sitting next to Slezak), Lisa Ponti (bottom left of the projector screen) and Marcus Schmalbach (bottom right) looking on. Photo by Danielle Lawrence.

Interested in insurance and risk management?

The Carl H. Lindner III Center for Insurance and Risk Management endeavors to understand how economies, enterprises and individuals manage risk. The Center aims to produce individuals who will excel and lead in the variety of careers in the risk management profession, within enterprises and in the insurance and financial services industries.