“With the in-person 17th Singapore International Reinsurance Conference (SIRC) rescheduled to 2021 owing to the COVID-19 travel and social distancing restrictions, the Singapore Reinsurers' Association (SRA)took a brave decision to organise the SIRC 2020 Re-Mind virtual conference from 2 to 5 Nov 2020. In just five weeks, the project team worked tirelessly to bring the concept to virtual reality, with the strong backing of its Co-host and Event Partner, Swiss Re, as well as draw in close to 20 other industry partners to support and participate in the first-of-its-kind virtual event.
By the opening day, over 1,200 delegates from 43 countries had registered for the event, some first-time attendees who joined perhaps out of curiosity but mostly loyal SIRC supporters who had attended many of the previous 16 in-person conferences. When the doors to the virtual event were open at 8.00am on 2 Nov, hundreds of delegates rushed to login anxious to explore the virtual zones and meeting rooms on the platform.
The SRA Chairman, Mr Marc Haushofer in his welcome address said, “the COVID-19 pandemic had thrown a daunting challenge at all of us, but I believe as a community and an industry, we have demonstrated inventiveness and resilience in evolving and transforming our existing business models to create more sustainable solutions for the future”. He believed that the virtual platform could form the nucleus of what future industry events may become, even when in-person events become a possibility again.
In the Official Keynote Address that followed, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat thanked SRA and Swiss Re for putting this virtual event together in the midst of a global crisis. He noted that COVID-19 had raised awareness of future risks and provided greater impetus to close the protection gap, and hoped that the insurance industry could build on this impetus, to transform the industry through digital transformation and public-private partnerships. DPM also congratulated SRA on the launch of their “Parametric Risk Transfer” white paper, which aims to raise awareness of the role of parametric risk transfer solutions in complementing traditional insurance products. In his address, DPM also announced the launch of the Global-Asia Insurance Partnership (GAIP), which is a tripartite partnership between the global insurance industry, regulators and academia that aims to produce actionable research insights, develop policy recommendations, and co-create innovative solutions for the region.
The Opening Ceremony session attracted 442 unique views, which was comparable to the attendance at the opening session of previous in-person SIRCs, and a further 110 unique views who watched it on-demand. The other live session on Day 1 of the SIRC 2020 Re-Mind virtual event, which featured the Fireside Chat with Swiss Re’s Group CEO, Mr Christian Mumenthaler, attracted the next highest 437 unique views. Day 1 of the virtual conference attracted just over 1,000 unique attendees, with about 600 concurrent attendees at its peak.
Hence, in spite of some initial resistance from some sceptics against the decision to go virtual, the ‘long and taxing journey’ to create a virtual eco-system where interested market practitioners can assemble, share perspectives and engage in conversations over cyber space may have paid off. To quote the SRA Chairman, “We are glad that we have stayed the course and remained determined.”