Risk management as a sector is in the unusual position of being empowered and emboldened by the credit crunch. A heightened sense of accountability and risk-aversion in general in these chastened times has resulted in career advancement and increased remuneration for most risk professionals. A surge in hiring activity looks set to continue, especially in the banking sector where sensitivities are at their highest, and new regulations promise on-going adjustment.
Risk management, in a nutshell, is foresight, i.e. the avoidance of uncertainty and exposure through good practice, and the successful implementation of change.
Analytical ability is high on the agenda, but it is thought that there will be a new premium on communication skills, where risk departments have historically been too isolated. Risk managers will often be communicating to complex corporate structures or operations and commercial managers who have very different agendas to a risk department, i.e. communicating to others what they do not want to hear. A business that does not take risks will not thrive, however, so risk management is as much about facilitating matters with an informed and lucid view.
This should all be music to the ears of naturally cautious, analytical lawyers, with their ability to interpret and communicate rules and regulations. In fact, operational risk is often combined with an in-house legal or company secretarial role.
Training and qualifications are available, which may assist in the transition. The Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARB), the Institute of Risk Management (IRM), and the Association of Insurance and Risk Managers (AIRMIC) all run training qualifications for risk managers. GARB's Financial Risk Manager (FRM) certificate has been expanded into a 2 level examination in response to new demands and become a benchmark for risk managers in the financial sector. Courses are offered (at BPP for example) starting in each May and November from 2010. GARB also have a specific energy sector-based qualification. The IRM has its own part-time Diploma in Risk Management that takes 3-5 years, and Certificate in Risk Management that takes 6-9 months, and also runs and lists accredited short courses. AIRMIC affiliates with the IRM courses.
All 3 websites advertise job vacancies.
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