A few years ago, at a major operational risk conference, the Federal Reserve and OCC presented operational risk’s role in the financial crisis. They stated that it was the “most critical risk” to the continued health of the financial industry and gave sound logic for their proclamation.
Craig Spielmann, CEO RiskTao, LLC presented directly after them on “Operational Risk Needing a Facelift.” He started by asking the 400 plus operational risk professionals in the room, if they expected their budgets to increase given it was cited as the most critical risk. Not a single hand was raised. He asked, “How many expected to have their budgets cut?” Half the room raised their hands. This seemed illogical on the surface. The “most important risk,” but instead of investing, there was an expectation of budge cuts. This should alarm most people and speaks volumes to the “perceived value proposition.”
Craig claims another perspective comes from his own personal experiences conducting ERM/ORM and risk workshops at conferences and individual institutions. Towards the end of each workshop, he asks participants to break into groups. He supplies them with a list of 10 critical questions. The tenth question is: “Would you pay for your own services?” The vast majority of the groups answer “No.” His sessions usually include all three lines of defense as well as front line business people and regulators (at the open conference sessions). So it would seem, the desire for improvement and is across the board.
These data points tell us that some risk functions need to transform to add value. The feedback received from risk professional is that they believe they have become overly “administrative in nature” and improving and guiding the business to achieve their goals within risk appetite, is secondary.
Here are recommendations to improve the value proposition:
- Strive for Excellence – Organizations must recognize and invest in risk transformation to gain a competitive edge and achieve a high return.
- Run Risk as a Business – Risks groups should run as “business, “ understand their value by assessing from their stakeholders perspective, their people, products and services, processes and technology to effectively compete and maximize value.
- Strategic Alignment – Operational risk has to be involved in strategic planning to make a significant contribution and be in-step with the organization.
- Talent – Organizations need to attract and keep talent. This includes having a “skills model” aligned against goals blended with a smart compensation structure.
In conclusion, operational risk management and business management are one in the same. The alignment between the two is paramount to running a successful business. There is a better path to achieving this seamless integration goal. There is much more value that can be generated by transform risk into a “business.” As we learned in the financial crisis, getting it right can generate a competitive edge and a high ROI.
All of these items and more will be addressed in the upcoming “Supercharging Your ERM/Risk Program Masterclass” sponsored by the Center for Financial Professionals. The Masterclass will accompany the 3rd Annual Operational & Enterprise Risk Management Congress taking place 19-20 April, where over 200 senior financial risk professionals will join to assess the remit of operational and enterprise risk management to increase efficiency between departments.