The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) asks its members what working in risk is really like and what hints and tips they'd share with people looking to move into the industry.
How did you get your job?
I studied Financial Mathematics at Canterbury University before starting my first role as an Actuarial Administrator in Romford. Just over two years ago, a vacancy came up in the Risk and Compliance team for a Risk Oversight Analyst. I spoke with the Risk Manager, who said she was keen to take on someone internally that already had insight and exposure of the company model. I did my own research about a career in risk, and asked the Risk Manager about the prospect of studying the Institute of Risk Management Certificate and whether the company would sponsor me, the answer being yes. This persuaded me into applying and I was successful at interview stage, moving internally within the company from actuarial to risk, the best decision I have made in my eyes while being at the company.
What’s a typical day like as a Risk Oversight Analyst?
There is never a dull moment. We are following the 2018 risk plan, with a number of key deliverables. I am currently refreshing the conduct risk module, which is rolled out to all internal staff, with an attaching test at the end that requires a pass mark of 80%. On a quarterly basis, I oversee the risk register returns from the heads of business functions, providing challenge and feedback. I usually start my day by reading the headlines on BBC news, identifying any emerging risks or breaking news that could have an impact on the business, I.e. the recent FCA publication of the focus of their annual plan, GDPR news, or press releases from our outsourcing competitors.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being one of the first to know about any important news and changes within the business. I also enjoy being able to provide input into key committee meetings in the business such as the Conduct Risk Committee and Top Down Risk review.
What are the challenges?
At the end of each quarter, there are various reports required, which can be a very busy period. It is not unusual in this role that you can end up with 80% of your work for the month coming in one week, and with the requirement of a quick turnaround time.
In what way are your IRM qualifications relevant?
I am regularly able to apply my knowledge from the study of the IRM Certificate material. Recently we refreshed our risk tolerances with an exercise to identify the inherent and residual exposure of all risks the company faced. Previously the focus had been on the residual risks, but by also identifying the inherent risk exposure, we were able to identify where controls were not adequate or where additional controls were required. In doing so, I did refer to chapters within the Hopkin book on inherent and residual risk exposure.
What would you say to others thinking about joining IRM as a member?
If you are interested in a career in risk and want to broaden your knowledge from the outset, then joining the IRM is a great decision. The qualifications you can gain from IRM are highly regarded in the Risk world. The study material is very insightful, and particularly interesting to learn about the fundamentals behind the Risk architecture and frameworks that businesses implement.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions? Has being linked to the IRM helped?
From starting out as the Risk Oversight Analyst 2 years ago, I am now seen as the deputy to the Risk Manager. I deputise for her in risk meetings and meet with clients to deliver quarterly risk reports. I feel like I am being groomed into the role of a future Risk Manager, and the gaining the IRM qualification will look great on my CV in this respect. I aspire to push on as a risk manager myself within the next couple of years, with my long term ambition on being a respected CRO.
Don’t be afraid to take the plunge and change your career path. Just because you start out on one career path don’t mean you can’t change that path if you have an interest in doing something else.
Show an interest in studying to become a professional. Many company bosses are keen to employ people that are willing to apply themselves and learn while on the job, so ask about studying the IRM qualifications.
Take an interest in business news, and in particular where companies have made successful or crippling risk related decisions that have affected the business. i.e. the collapse of Carillion, the turnaround of Tesco, or the recent impact on KFC of switching their delivery supplier, which left many restaurants with insufficient stock and caused temporary closures.