Getting a Job in Operational Risk
A number of subsets exist within the risk career group, covering different areas of business including market risk, credit risk, conduct risk, technology risk and so on. Operational risk relates to the mitigation of risks that manifest from internal processes, people and systems. Any issues that arise when conducting business, such as power cuts, loss of employees, inability to access necessary working materials and so on all come under the operational risk remit as they look at the how, why and what in order to tighten up the necessary procedures.
Whether you’re coming to a career in operational risk from a graduate’s perspective or from a more seasoned vantage point, an understanding of what risk management is fundamentally about is key. Those that are newly qualified should be able to demonstrate the ability to apply the theory they’ve learnt through their bachelor’s degree in practice, while existing risk practitioners need to go a step or two further in understanding the supporting theory in order to improve their capability.
The direction that operational risk management is taking currently is driving demand for a more hands-on risk management approach and for individuals who have good insights into social behaviours and corporate culture. A substantial part of working in operational risk, for those at more mid-level and senior stages in their career, is being able to influence the key decision-makers in an organisation. Therefore, having excellent insight into people and what drives them or triggers them, as well as being able to tap into the company culture will bolster your ability to influence those front-office decisions.
Being a strong communicator and of a perceptive and analytical mind will set you apart in the hiring market. Particularly when coupled with knowledge and/or experience that enables you to assess the business functions, and other important factors including the size of the firm, how its staffing affects its operations and ultimately the company’s business objectives.
At the more junior level you will be expected to work with the business by providing them with the results of your risk analyses. However, you are still honing those skills that will support your competence in becoming a credible and influential voice within the business. This is why it is critical that you really understand the business in order to lead into those valuable conversations later on in your risk career.
Preferred degree subjects that employers will be looking for include audit, accounting, finance, economics and compliance, or a related field. Brokerage, insurance, and consulting firms make for good first ports of call following graduation in terms of entry level risk management job opportunities.
When preparing for a career in operational risk, you should look for any opportunity to gain work experience in the risk function. Having on the job, practical experience will give you a far greater understanding of both risk management and internal controls in order to apply that knowledge once you are qualified. Some employers will also be looking for candidates who have a good foundation in data, analytics, and mathematics.