Something needs to be done to transform risk management and this shift starts with us as risk managers, writes risk expert Suchitra Narayanan.

As the famous saying goes: “Be the change that you wish to see in this world’. As risk management today sits on the precipice of change, in my opinion, this quote rings incredibly true. 

Something needs to be done to transform risk management and this shift starts with us, as risk managers.

In the beginning

So where do we even start? How many of us have at some point been slightly jaded with the profession, questioning if we are truly adding value to the organisations we work at? And how many of us feel that risk management is still an academic exercise, a ‘nice to have’ in an organisation, rather than being trusted advisors?

I believe the first step lies in truly understanding the business and company. By this, I don’t mean being able to rattle off excerpts from an annual report, but rather taking the time to dissect the mechanics of the organisation - the good, the bad, the ugly. In my experience, the best way of doing this is through conversation.

Risk managers all too often are seen sitting behind their computers, updating risk registers, but there is so much value in investing time in dialogue- not only with management but at all layers and levels. 

Which brings me to my next point - visibility. As risk managers, one of the key skills we need to possess is the ability to influence and naturally, this means we need to be visible. I was recently reading about YouTube’s top earner in 2018: a 7-year-old toy reviewer who posts videos almost daily, meaning he is incredibly visible. Through understanding the company thoroughly, the most natural way to be visible within the organisation should become more evident. 

Heat maps off the boil

The heat has certainly been on the humble heat maps of late, with many articles being written about how they need to evolve and I couldn’t agree more. Just observing some of the issues that companies’ might be faced with today - Brexit implications, currency crises, climate change - how could a heat map capture any of these issues, I wonder?

As a profession, we need to put our heads together and devise a more relevant way of highlighting risks than a heat map.

When risk managers speak about risk maturity, I often wonder what the benchmark is. Is it based on where the organisation started when they commenced their risk journey? How does that compare to risk functions across the industry? I have a deep appreciation for the fact that there is no ‘one size fits all’ but I think it would be incredibly useful to have a somewhat harmonised view of what constitutes a mature risk framework or function. 

When I have occasionally felt a little spiritless or despondent about the future of the risk management profession, connecting with other risk managers and reading views and opinions on websites, such as Strategic Risk, has been a great source of solace.

I am extremely enthusiastic about the #ChangingRisk initiative. By bringing together ideas, opinions and thoughts, I believe that this is the first step to addressing the change that is inevitable and so necessary. 

If I had a crystal ball, I would foresee risk management being an exciting and innovative industry to be in over the next few years… As long as the change starts with us.

Risk managers - this is your moment to take charge of your profession and join the growing number of peers who are eagerly #ChangingRisk. Want to get involved? Email our content director, Kin Ly