Risk e-Views Vol 34 September 2013 – Risk Leadership: Top Challenges in Risk – The Results Are In

I have been running a survey and with more than 100 completed I am getting an interesting picture of the challenges my readership is facing. Here are the results and my interpretation of what they mean.

First of all, I should answer the question “What does the profile of respondents look like?” Put simply, my readership base and those that responded are typical of the risk profession. You are a mix of senior risk professionals in larger organisations, risk advisors who work for senior risk professionals or are embedded in business units, consultants or managers who have a part-time responsibility for risk including CFOs, COOs, GMs, Legal Counsel and a host of other managers of strategy, governance, safety, internal audit and many more.

My Interpretation:

1. Evolving – Almost 50% of respondents indicated the need to elevate their programs towards better practice. This tells us risk management continues to evolve. Given the breadth and depth of debate in LinkedIn groups on various elements of better practice, standards and how to make it happen, this comes as no surprise.

2. Engagement – Engaging middle management and front-line staff ranks significantly higher than engaging the C-Suite. This could mean one of two things. Either senior management is now more engaged than ever before or many of the respondents simply don’t have access to the C-Suite as they are operating much lower in the organisation’s hierarchy. I believe both are happening.

3. Communication – Perhaps what is also at work is either a lack of confidence or a lack of opportunity to develop the skills required to engage senior management as evidenced by the one in five who indicated they have trouble articulating their vision and/or getting involved at Board level.

4. Analytics – One in four is challenged to improve risk assessments while only one in eight is seeking better quantification of risk in risk assessments. I suspect there is still complacency when it comes to tackling our psychological biases when assessing risk and quantification is one way of addressing them.

5. Accountability – This was perhaps the greatest surprise to me. Only one in ten identified a need to demonstrate their program was better practice while less than one in twenty felt a need to demonstrate a ROI for the organisation’s investment in them and the program they run or are building. Unfortunately this makes sense as risk departments have been some of the hardest hit in cut backs seen by organisations over the past 12 months. My message to risk professionals: “If you don’t take ownership of demonstrating your worth then someone else will determine your budget!”

I don’t pretend that these results are representative of the risk industry globally or even locally, however, hopefully they provide you with some interesting insights.