Fatal Attraction

“How to attract talent into the risk industry?” was another question posed by one of my readers from my survey back in February. An interesting question. Before answering it I want to answer a different question, “What talent should we be attracting into the risk industry?”

For a range of reasons, many people with a finance and audit background have “traditionally” found their way into the risk industry. The percentage has dwindled over the last decade or two, however, there are still many from that background.

While finance and audit backgrounds provide a strong skill set to the risk industry, as with any team, diversity has distinctive benefits for team performance. For many, the natural tendency is to hire more of the same people that are doing a good job. You need to resist this urge and hire from different backgrounds.

One of the biggest criticisms of risk teams is that “They don’t understand our business”. That is, they have not run IT transformation projects or worked in large infrastructure services organisations and so on. The more diverse the business experience of your risk team, the more likely you will have the business seeking your risk advice.

How to attract people from different backgrounds? It starts with ensuring senior leadership has a positive view of enterprise risk management and understands the mission (see Stratriskising) and how you position the risk team in the organisation (see Positively Positioning). If the risk team is positioned so it looks like a compliance function, your talent pool shrinks enormously. The more it is positioned as hand-in-glove with strategy, with an emphasis on creating and protecting value, the greater your talent pool.

Lastly, you need to sell the message. And here is a tip. Don’t use risk speak because Risk-Speak is $#!t-Speak.