How to get a job in Risk
Most risk professionals come from a solid numerical background. Embarking on a career in risk means you will have likely completed a degree in Maths, finance or economics. A degree in business administration or statistics will also stand you in good stead. However, that is not to say that candidates coming from other degree fields as diverse as Geography, Anthropology or even History of Art won’t be considered.
For some areas of risk, such as in quantitative roles, furthering your academic resume with a Master’s degree in finance, business or economics, or an MBA, will go a long way to growing your career. However, having an MA or MBA is certainly not mandatory or necessarily expected. Additional industry certifications you can apply for include, but are not limited to, the prestigious CFA.
Taking your burgeoning understanding of some of the key elements of risk management, for example financial markets and ERM practices, and applying them through practical work experience placements is key to developing both your skillset and professional network.
Daniel Ostermeyer, Director of Risk Advisory at Deloitte asserts that any experience gained working in the industry you’re planning on working in will prove useful. However, “that experience doesn’t necessarily have to be in risk; it can be in the business or within internal audit, says Ostermeyer.”
The important thing is to demonstrate a keenness and interest in risk, from education level to any relevant financial internships and of course when applying for your first job in risk. Depending on which type of risk and industry sector you’re planning to work in, you may find your entry via roles in financial planning, credit analysis, insurance brokerage or risk consulting, or for a more operational route you may look at a role in IT, Audit, or business analysis.
The financial services sector offers a useful starting point for candidates aspiring to work in risk management as it gives them great learning opportunities and a chance to build real experience in risk. Roles like compliance associate, AML specialist and risk analyst too will all offer candidates great opportunities for evaluating financial risks and assessing an organisation’s adherence to regulations.
Equally important to displaying enthusiasm for risk, says Ostermeyer, is demonstrating to your future employer your ability and willingness to take on a challenge. “Generally speaking, the focus will be on hiring people with the right soft skills and applying the technical training in-house,” says Ostermeyer.
Bringing skills like effective and persuasive communication, problem-solving and critical thinking to the table will serve as an excellent foundation to your risk management career. The technical expertise Ostermeyer mentions more often than not comes with that on-the-job experience that will go on to push your career forward.