From Scapegoat to Savior: The Risk Manager Story

Chris McClean

Even in the toughest times, winners will invariably emerge. With the way expectations are changing regarding corporate controls and disclosure, risk management professionals (whose lack of influence was seen as a substantial cause of our current state of affairs to begin with) will likely be among the first beneficiaries of our new outlook on business.

Forrester customer inquiries seem to have taken a step back when it comes to risk management. While there are still plenty of incoming technology and vendor selection questions, there has been a noticeable spike in calls about fundamental issues, such as how to build and organize risk management programs. Knowledge and experience in risk management basics is in high demand.

Last week, the New York Times emphasized this demand by highlighting the current value of graduate degrees or certification related to risk management. The article explains:

“Among the hot areas now are positions related to minimizing risk, as firms try to mitigate the chances of another financial crisis. Risk in general is a relatively new focus, and the openings range from business, credit and operational risk to product and technology risk.”

Bank Technology News printed a more in-depth article about the rise of the risk management profession earlier this month, stating:

“...strategic soul-searching is going on in bank boardrooms and executive suites, but it's the chief risk officers that must carry out the emerging marching orders to accurately assess all forms of risk, and ensure that risk posture is in line with the institution's appetite.”

The article goes on to say that this added responsibility will also tear open some of the covers risk managers could previously use to avoid blame that might come their way. With increased budget and influence, it’s much harder to claim ignorance or innocence when things go wrong.

 In any case, much will be expected of risk managers in the immediate future, and I’m eager to see the professional step up and take on more of the spotlight.