Soft Skills to Advance your Risk Career
As a Risk professional, your job is defined by the identification, assessment and mitigation of threats to an organisation. As recruitment consultant Lee Hine explains, working in risk casts you as a barometer for the business in order to understand how it is performing and to see where its’ weaknesses are and where improvements can be made.
Whether you’re working in operational risk, credit risk, IT risk, risk culture or one of the many other areas of either financial or non-financial risk, there are particular skills you can foster that will set you apart in your field.
Management and Leadership Skills
As you move along your career in risk, you’ll take on more responsibility in your role which extends to coaching and managing others. “In this regard you’ll want to look at building your experience of leading small teams,” advises risk professional Daniel Ostermeyer. Having those leadership skills can also extend to other areas of the business where it is your job to form a collaborative relationship with other departments in order to facilitate an integrated risk strategy and ethos throughout the organisation.
You are the person the business tasks with shielding them from reputational damage and financial losses and decreased productivity amongst other things. In order to do this effectively you will need to first understand the business and then be ready and willing to challenge what’s been done or how it’s being done if you believe there is a better way of doing things, or if you can see that the current process is making the business vulnerable. “You need a lot of resilience,” says Ostermeyer, “because you’ll be pushing up against other people in the business and delivering a message they probably don’t want to hear.”
Part of the job of a Risk Analyst is trawling through reams of data, so that old cliché of attention to detail has to be a staple for those in Risk Analysis careers. You will spend a great deal of time analysing data to identify patterns and anomalies in order to pinpoint the risk implications for the business and pick up on things others won’t even know to be looking for.
Be an Influencer
Not just reserved for the social media mavens of the world, having the ability to influence and inspire others is also a vital skill for risk professionals. Regardless of whether you’re working in-house or on a consulting basis, you need to have the power to influence others.
“Your technical analysis may all be correct and valid but unless you’re successful in influencing someone and getting them to align with your frame of view then ultimately you won’t get any results,” says Ostermeyer.
At its core, risk is subjective. Though it sits closely alongside audit and compliance within a business, fundamentally it does not share the same mandate or external pressures that make it a necessity in the same way as audit and compliance. “You have to be able to sell ideas and concepts,” says Hine. “Your role is largely advisory and much of what you may advise the business to do, though it should happen doesn’t automatically translate to ‘need to happen’ from the business’ perspective.”
Emotional Intelligence is a critical skill for those working in risk, as alongside that ‘salesman’ piece is a need to connect with the human side of the business. Whether it’s nurturing strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders or acting as mentor to more junior members of your team, your capacity for being empathetic is what will ultimately make you successful in your career in risk.