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Sian-Louise Bishop, IRMCert: Governance & Reporting Analyst, Risk & Compliance, Operations & Delivery | Nationwide Building Society

Sian-Louise Bishop, IRMCert

Governance & Reporting Analyst,

Risk & Compliance,

Operations & Delivery

Nationwide Building Society


How did you get your job?

I got my job by securing a role in Management Information (MI) & Reporting – my role then slowly became more and more risk focussed, looking at all the MI across some of our business areas and their risk measures.

It was then I realised how much I enjoyed the aspect of risk and my manager told me, my company offered the International Certificate Financial Services Risk Management.

I looked at what the course offered and I jumped at the chance of getting involved – I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work in my own time, but the rewards upon completion outweighed any of the negative thoughts.

What’s a typical day like as a Governance & Reporting Analyst?

A typical day is managing the Risk MI data coming in, that will go in to various reports across the business – such as local departmental risk meetings, all the way to executive and board meetings with directors and non-exec directors.

I’m responsible for reviewing the risks, ensuring they are correctly logged and any commentary is correct and concise.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The world of risk is varied, that’s the best part of my job. The fact that through my reporting I can flag up something that isn’t looking right and with the right work involved and speaking with the right people, I can avoid the risk materialising.

What are the challenges?

Challenges are getting everyone to understand risk the same way. People report their risks differently, making it harder to get a consistent risk report for all the business areas.

That’s where the IRM qualification comes in, using my skills and knowledge to educate and share best practice across my stakeholders, to embed consistent and accurate risk reporting.

In what way are your IRM qualifications relevant?

Having my IRM knowledge helps me facilitate my role better, it gave me a much deeper understanding of history of how risk evolved and skills and confidence to embed risk and reporting in a more meaningful way for my role.

What would you say to others thinking about joining IRM as a member?

As a recognised qualification, I would strongly recommend to anyone working in the field of risk to join the IRM – having an internationally recognised qualification looks great on my CV and has helped me get involved with more risk projects, which has meant I have been lucky to meet with different stakeholders that I wouldn’t usually in my day to day job which raises my profile within my company. 

Being linked to IRM, you get invited to fantastic events, which will help you network within the world of risk. 
Although I work in the financial services industry, I have no doubt that the skills I have learnt in completing my IRM are completely transferable to any industry.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions? Has being linked to the IRM helped?

My role has developed even more since becoming “qualified” as managers are eager to get me to use my skills and knowledge and share best practices with my stakeholders.

I’m deemed as a subject matter expert now and it’s great to have people referred to me from across the business to learn more about risk and I get a great sense of achievement in knowing I am having a positive effect on how risk and risk reporting is evolving.

My career ambition is now to stay in the world of risk, I would like to move to more of a risk focused role, not just in the elements of reporting and I know my qualification will certainly be a positive on my CV when I apply for these more risk focused roles.

Top tips:

Be prepared to get the most you can out of the study material.

There is a lot of material to go through, ensure you spend time looking though it all.

Think about well-known risk incidents from other companies that have been in the press, I found that looking into exposed risk incidents and using my knowledge from my study to try and look at the risk from the IRM side and what you could have done to prevent it from materialising. It’s useful to understand risks from other businesses as although risk is a massive subject, it really helps you appreciate how the fundamentals of risk can be applied to any type of business.

Lastly, I would just say enjoy and embrace! It’s such hard work, but SO rewarding. 
Use previous exam papers to help you look at the types of questions, especially with the written exam and compare your answers with the guideline answers, as it will help you understand what the examiners look out for.