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Excelling as a risk and compliance professional

Whether you’re interested in getting started in your first risk and compliance role, or moving ahead in the ranks at your current or other organisation, we often get asked about what it takes to progress and stand out for new opportunities.

Based on our ongoing interactions with industry practitioners, the key attributes of successful risk and compliance professionals appear to us to include:

1. Good balance of hard and soft skills

Effective risk management often involves a combination of art and science, requiring both literal and lateral thinking skills. It also requires being able to effectively influence a wide range and number of stakeholders across and outside the organisation, in addition to completing robust risk analysis. This can often require an ability to effectively balance ethical, risk and commercial considerations. Developing strong capabilities in both the hard and soft spheres is key to progressing to the executive leadership level in risk and compliance.

2. Strong technical acumen

Risk and compliance professionals are required to deal with a depth and breadth of highly technical matters, requiring strong technical acumen. It is essential to have a robust knowledge of risk management principles and techniques, regulatory compliance requirements and tools, and of course the subject matter of relevant industries. Risk management is a developing profession, and we often get queries on how to upskill in this space. We have included our suggestions in the second half of this article.

3. Continuous learning mindset

Given the high degree of ongoing change in the industries in which risk and compliance professionals operate, it is necessary to have excellent research capabilities, problem solving skills, access to relevant resources and effective professional networks to assist in keeping up to date. This requires a continuous learning mindset, as it is never possible to master all relevant knowledge areas.

In order to progress in risk and compliance careers, as with many others, it is important to demonstrate a willingness to take on new challenges and opportunities, to broaden your range of experience and capabilities. It can be helpful to remain open to horizontal career moves to develop new skills and showcase your versatility, given the range of capabilities that risk and compliance professionals are expected to bring to the leadership table.

4. Attention to detail

There can be an incredible amount of detail associated with completing risk and compliance activities, and thus individuals with a propensity for diving into the detail as required and assessing the relevance of the multitude of potential risk factors and compliance obligations in an orderly manner tend to be successful in the risk and compliance space. There is of course a need to keep the key objectives and big picture outcomes at front of mind, and progress through the detailed analysis in a time effective manner.

5. High emotional intelligence and excellent interpersonal skills

In order to achieve desired risk and compliance outcomes and promote an effective risk and compliance culture across the organisation, risk and compliance professionals need to influence others and negotiate practical outcomes on a frequent basis. As you progress in terms of seniority, there is also a need to effectively manage multi-disciplinary teams and lead other risk and compliance professionals to achieve common goals and strategies.

6. Passion

Many folks consider risk and compliance to be a dry topic. However, there are some practitioners who have an evident passion for the effective management of risks for the benefit of their organisation, and for striving to achieve better practice in risk and compliance frameworks relative to their peers. We often observe these passionate practitioners making contributions to cross industry collaborations, leading thought leadership initiatives, and ultimately moving ahead in their risk and compliance careers.

7. Resilience

Risk and compliance professionals are required to operate effectively in a fast-paced constantly changing environment, and maintain resilience in the face of ongoing challenge and lack of buy-in to risk and compliance initiatives from various business stakeholders. Achieving desired risk and compliance outcomes can require a large number of small steps and incremental wins. You need to have the resilience to keep plugging away despite the challenges, and take the opportunity to celebrate the positive outcomes when your efforts come to fruition.

8. Ability to challenge the status quo

Another desirable trait of risk and compliance professionals is the ability to question practices and processes and present new ways of thinking and working. Curiosity and openness to change can make one more open to challenging the business in its decision making.

We often field questions from our clients and other industry participants in relation to what education and training options exist to upskill on risk management. In terms of formal study, we consider the following offerings to be high quality options:

1. Master of Applied Finance (Risk Management Stream) – Macquarie University.

2. Master of Risk Management – Monash University.

3. Graduate Certificate in the Psychology of Risk – Australian Catholic University.

4. Diploma of Integrated Risk Management – Australian New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF).

There are also a range of certification options that provide for shorter duration programs to enhance your risk management knowledge and demonstrate professionalism in the risk management space. We draw your attention to the following offerings:

1. PARIMA-ANZIIF Certified Risk Professional (PA-CRP) – one study period and exam. This is a new certification that ANZIIF has introduced, in connection with PARIMA, the Pan-Asia Risk and Insurance Management Association.

2. Professional Risk Manager (PRM) certification from the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association (PRMIA).

3. Financial Risk Manager (FRM) certification from the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP).

4. The Risk Management Institute of Australasia (RMIA) offers a range of certifications, including the Certified Practising Risk Associate (CPRA) and Certified Practising Risk Manager (CPRM).

5. The Risk Management Society (RIMS) offers various designations with risk education programs, including the RIMS Fellow (RF) designation, Associate in Risk Management (ARM) and Associate in Risk Management – ERM (ARM-E).

No one risk and compliance career journey is the same, and we wish you all the best in working out the best steps to take in yours.

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