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.
Daniel Winter GradIRM – Senior Risk Manager, British Gas
How did you get your job?
I started working at a management consultancy in January 2008. By the end of that year the global economy had collapsed! Suddenly a lot of companies became increasingly focused on their risk management capability and so I started being involved in a lot more risk projects. In particular, areas such as credit risk, market risk and supplier insolvency. As I gained more insight into these areas, I began to realise that risk is at the heart of all business. No company can succeed without taking risk and no company can survive without effectively managing that risk.
I moved to Ageas to work on the Solvency II project there. The governance and risk management requirements of Solvency II required a number of significant developments of the risk framework at Ageas and so there was a great deal of change and focus on risk in a relatively short time frame which meant I rapidly gained a lot of knowledge in this role.
I then went to work for a smaller insurer where I took on the lead in developing the risk framework for the whole business and developing an internal model for Solvency II. Whilst in this role I wrote a full set of risk policies, developed risk management processes and implemented these across all the European offices. While in this role I began my IRM Diploma which I have now completed.
I now work at British Gas Insurance which underwrites the homecare products sold by British Gas. During my time here I have continued to apply my knowledge of developing risk frameworks and processes and Solvency II, culminating in the approval of the internal model at the end of 2015. I work with a number of other key risk stakeholders across the whole of British Gas and Centrica to ensure that there are effective and consistent risk management processes in place.
What’s a typical day like as a Senior Risk Manager?
Obviously it can be very varied. I conduct a number of risk assessments across the business as well as reporting to the Board and Executive Committees on the risk profile of the business. The risk framework is subject to continuous improvement and so I spend a lot of time working on ways to further develop and enhance the risk processes. In particular, this year I am developing an internal model for operational risk in order to more accurately measure the risk profile of the business.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The nature of the role means that you are exposed to all areas of the business. I get to work with all departments and with everyone from junior analysts to C-suite execs. I learn a lot about how all these departments work and what challenges they face. It gives me a much broader exposure to the business than a lot of other roles provide.
What are the challenges?
For me the main challenge is that risk as a standalone discipline is still a relatively new concept. This means that you are often faced with people who see it as new and unnecessary as they’ve got on fine without it before. It’s also an area where everyone has an opinion on how it should be done. When a finance manager presents the accounts, nobody questions the accounting method used to produce them. If the company uses UK GAAP then that’s taken as read and everyone focuses on what the numbers mean rather than how they were produced. However, when risk information is presented, everyone has an opinion on how it should have been done!
In what way are your IRM qualifications relevant?
The IRM Diploma provides the fundamental concepts of risk management. I am able to use these concepts to develop a risk framework in any business as they can be transferred across any industry or geography. More and more risk roles are specifying IRM qualifications in their list of requirements and therefore having this qualification significantly enhances my career prospects.
What would you say to others thinking about joining IRM as a member?
As I mention above, the IRM provides the fundamental concepts of risk management and I would say it is essential for anyone coming into the profession. It is also useful for those who have been working in risk for many years as it can provide a consistent frame of reference and terminology for risk management.
I have attended seminars and courses from other risk providers and the IRM has always been the most useful and relevant.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions? Has being linked to the IRM helped?
I am aiming to develop my career in risk and with the increasingly higher profile and recognition of the importance of risk, there are more and more board-level positions available for risk professionals. I see this as being the long-term aim in my current career. Being linked with the IRM provides access to a wide network of risk professionals and the opportunities that come with this. As I mentioned above, more and more companies are requiring IRM membership for roles and so being linked to the IRM obviously helps in this regard.
1.A risk framework is never finished! There are always ways it can be improved and made more useful to the business.
2.Always make sure you prepare thoroughly and effectively before a risk assessment. You will need to challenge the risk owners and if you make a statement which is wrong or you don’t understand their business/function, your credibility will be gone and your challenges ignored.
3.Make sure you understand the strategy of your company. Know what risks the business needs to take and which it is unavoidably exposed to. By helping the company effectively managed these risks in a way that supports the strategy will ensure your risk function is valued and not seen as a hindrance or box ticking exercise.
Find out more about the Institute of Risk Management and our Training, Membership and Qualifications.