When European risk managers gather...

When European risk managers gather in Rome for the Ferma Forum this month, there will no doubt be much talk about the role of the risk manager - and the difficulty in getting the risk management role and approach over to the board. Although high insurance premiums and the threat of personal liability have made board directors more aware of risk, they may well only be concerned with those aspects that directly affect them, and with the cost to the company as a whole.

However, there is one way that risk managers can provide real value and get the ear of the board - and that is by being good listeners themselves. It is important to talk to everyone within the organisation, ask the right questions about managing risk - and listen to the answers. In most companies, the answer to dealing with the problems they face can usually be found internally.

Risk is no longer simply a matter of insurance buying expertise. Most risk managers will appreciate that virtually all aspects of their companies' activities incorporate some aspect of risk. Few are qualified to sit back and take a view on all these activities - that would be a tall order for anyone. But the risk manager can add real value by discussing all these types of risk with the people directly involved and then evaluating their views and acting as a conduit to the board to present the problems and the possible solutions. It is an aspect of the risk manager's role that is not always exploited. But it could be the key to raising risk managers' profile and getting directors to appreciate that there are very real ways in which risk management will add value to the business.