Ask the Expert: Roy Boukens, Head of Risk


Roy Boukens is the Group Chief Risk Officer at Accelerant Insurance and a member of the Management Committee and Board of Directors of Accelerant Insurance Europe SA/NV, based in Brussels. He is a Risk Management professional with 15+ years of experience in Insurance, both in Belgium and abroad. Prior to Accelerant, Roy spent a decade at EY leading the ERM advisory team

Roy is passionate about finding the next big innovation and making sure that risk management leads to better business results.

We asked Roy to share more on how the Risk function fits into Accelerant and how Risk supports the other teams and Members. Learn about it below:

How and why did you join Accelerant?

I formally joined Accelerant three years ago, but I was involved since its inception a year prior, helping the team get their license for their Belgian carrier.

How does Risk fit in the larger Accelerant ecosystem?

We ensure the business is equipped with the right tools and processes to manage risks. Essentially, we keep the guardrails up to make sure the company takes risks in an informed way. We also aggregate information to report it to various administrative bodies in the organizations, like the Board of Directors and regulators.

How does Accelerant’s risk team define success and impact Member success?

There are three components to it. First, it’s important to me that the business is happy with what we do — that our standards are not a burden, that we are actually helpful in managing risks. Secondly, the Board of Directors should be comfortable with what we are doing as an organization. Their peace of mind is a sign we’re doing something right. Third, and perhaps most essential, is that we successfully prevent risk events. If they do happen, we are there to manage the fallout smoothly.

Naturally, a lot of risk we take on comes from Members, so what we do is understand those risks, mitigate them, and at the same time, minimize the effort Members need to put in. To build a strong relationship with our Members, we need to balance risk mitigation with Members’ goals and provide Members with all of the information they need to take their own risks.

How would you say risk management at Accelerant differs from the rest of the industry?

Typically — and especially in Europe more than the U.S. — risk is a control function focused on checking off their boxes. They go to the business, which we call the first line, and get the necessary information without going the extra mile to support the business in its next steps. Where we differ is that we put in the legwork to help, whereas in other organizations, the businesses would need to navigate their risk mitigation alone, detracting from their priorities and primary focus work.

What industry trends will have a significant impact on your team and Accelerant in 2024?

For Accelerant, there is always change, and we’re accustomed to it. It’s like outgrowing a jacket — Accelerant makes sure that when we outgrow the jacket, there may be a small tear, but the jacket is still overall intact and wearable. When needed, we help in getting the new jacket. The pace of change will continue to be a constant for at least the next two years. We want to be there to not only solve the related issues but also to take preventative measures to avoid them.

Specifically, we are seeing a lot of changes in technology, and we really need to be at the forefront of it. What risks will AI bring? What about quantum computing, which is still distant but will render all security systems worthless? How about technologies we’re not even aware of yet? It’s likely that we as a society hardly even know what emerging risks are in store.

There are, of course, also the underwriting related risks. Will inflation go down or up? How do we plan for the scenario where it goes up? Those economic events have impact — entrenched inflation especially, even if it’s lower than before. We’re managing it and doing everything in our power to understand and forecast the risks better.

What will risk management look like 10 years from now? What are some long-term challenges and opportunities?

As our reliance on technology grows over the next 10 years, we will likely have many processes automated, particularly the more manual work in risk. For example, we may be able to automate our processing of the data coming in from the market and identifying incoming threats like a cyber attack.

On the data side, there will be more and more data available, allowing us to connect more dots and better understand the future and its subsequent risks.

Financially, insurance companies are exposed to market risks. We are relatively low risk in the financial space because of the way we manage our investments, but the risk is always there, so how financial markets perform over the next decade is important to us.

What tools and technologies does the risk team use to achieve results?

We have two systems currently.

One is the launchpad, a system built by Accelerant to manage its third party relationships, including TPA management claims, Member management, and distribution. There, we collect data to manage our third party and outsourcing risk. The system is built bespoke to the Accelerant business model, allowing for an efficient data capture, due diligence and risk assessment process.

Second, we have Workiva, our risk and control system. It’s also used for SOX compliance, run by the finance team. The system contains the single source of truth for all risks and controls. We can view all the risks the company and its legal entities are exposed to, as well as all the controls we have to mitigate those risks, and it allows us to report them to stakeholders and senior management in an efficient way.

Could you share a moment of achievement from this past year that was particularly memorable for you and your team?

The biggest achievement was the implementation of Workiva for risk management. It’s allowed us to have one location to house our risks and controls throughout the organization and all legal entities. The team worked really hard to set the system up and verify all the data is there. Having this central register — this single source of truth — was an immense achievement. It helps us more easily report on risks and mitigation, while providing better information to the organization at large.

Additionally, the development done on LaunchPad was incredible. We have been able to create a system bespoke to our business model. The technology team has been amazing in getting from our requirements to this tool.

Finally, Recently, we completed our ORSA reports for the UK/European entities — it’s a lengthy 120-word document that is necessary for regulatory purposes. Yet, from a regulatory standpoint, it’s equally important to involve the Board in this process. We made it easy to do so by revamping the form into a PowerPoint to guide them through our talking points and come to mutual conclusions. The feedback was extremely positive, which reaffirmed our capability to make our stakeholders happy while innovating outdated practices. It’s just one visible way we’ve achieved our objective to be efficient and effective, while making the Boards happy.

To celebrate, we move toward tackling the next challenge. In risk, there’s always one thing after another, so we need to stay focused. We high-five and proceed — that’s the way we roll.

What goals do you and the risk team have for the next year?

We hope to onboard the Canadian branch of the company and ensure that we can service it from our centralized risk structure, like we have done for others by accommodating different legal entities. When onboarding, we make sure the relevant governance is in place and that we transition smoothly. Then, it’s business as usual. We do our risk and control self-assessment process to understand any new risks we’re exposed to and mitigation strategies to put in place.

There are also new regulations coming out in different jurisdictions. In the UK, for instance, we still have operational resilience. We also have the Digital and Operational Resilience Act in Europe that we’ll need to work together. Additionally, there is sustainability regulation coming out, we’ll have to begin reporting on it next year too. All of these initiatives will take time to prepare for, but as a team, we can do it.

What is the most surprising thing about risk management that people don’t know?

We get to know the whole organization — talk to everyone, see a lot — so we can connect the dots, which is a useful advantage.

What do you hope Accelerant employees understand the most about your team and about Risk at Accelerant?

That we are here to help and to support them in making sure they can manage their own risks, to control and mitigate them. We’re really here to help.