Tips for Risk Professionals in their 30s
With age comes experience and until you’ve gotten to a certain point in your career you may not be fully aware of what should and could be expected of you. For risk professionals in their 30s, they are at an interesting point in their career where they’ve done a lot of the groundwork to establishing themselves within a risk management role and are most likely managing a team of people. So what should they be doing and thinking about now?
Financial and technology risk professional, George Beniac, asserts that really the most important aspect in this current digital climate, is to figure out how to future proof yourself against the digitisation of businesses. This is something former Director of Risk Advisory at Deloitte, Daniel Ostermeyer raised back in 2018, advising young risk professionals of the importance of understanding technology and data and its burgeoning role within the business world.
Traditional risk management methods have undergone a huge makeover as the financial services industry, along with many others, has been digitised. The classic audit and sample testing approach of old has given rise to data and analytics coming in and automating processes, embedding business processes into systems and expanding sample checking to entire population checking. The intention of course being to deliver a greater level of coverage and assurance that the business processes are operating correctly.
Beniac believes there are gaps in the market, with current risk management professionals ill-equipped to review the systems effectively. “It is a whole separate skillset to be able to review the design of a system and say ‘yes’ that meets the requirements outlined by the business,” he says. Unlike consulting firms who will hire specialists in areas like technology risk, financial services institutions don’t have the same distinction, thus creating this capability gap. “Our risk management professionals have come through the ranks of the organisation doing these manual checks, which is the way they’ve always viewed risk management when in reality what they should be doing, as we transition into this digitised future, is to be checking the system.”
With tens of thousands of processes underpinning an organisation, the risk of every process must be checked in order to ensure the initial design was correct. “Risk professionals in their 30s should be looking at upskilling their awareness of how the system, or network of systems, is delivering risk management,” says Beniac. “You need the full image to get an accurate assessment.”
If you’re a 30-something working in risk you’re at a prime point in your career to push ahead and get yourself noticed by the right people. To do that you need to demonstrate your ability to evolve with the industry. This means knowing the right questions to ask and having a technology and risk-driven mindset and being conscious that it’s not immediately everything that’s put in front of you at any one time. You need to have the desire and skill to look deeper.
There has been and is a shift towards monitoring and obtaining assurance through analytics with a view to building a model which aims to deliver information in real time. Thus, if there is a breach of the rules, someone will be notified automatically. “If we’re looking at risk professionals in their 30s they’re likely already managing a team of some sort,” says Beniac, “I don’t see large risk teams executing those traditional tests in the future, I see that shifting to technology so if they stay in the space it’s imperative for them to be technologically literate and expect to move into more of a design and advice type role rather than running a testing team.”
When it comes to the people management element of your risk management career, the challenge will be in understanding how you and your team can do the tasks more effectively and how best to prioritise, and those will largely be achieved with technology and analytics.
Alongside those technical proficiencies that will support your career progression, it’s also important to align yourself with the right people within your organisation and your team. Risk and compliance professional Nathan Dearinger advises that as you move through your career you need to pay attention to the culture of not only the organisation as a whole but also the culture of the team and the people you’re engaging with.
“You won’t peg it when you’re interviewing necessarily, but once you’re in you need to really consider the team and think about who you want to align yourself with and who to mirror your behaviours off,” says Dearinger.