Senior manager for group risk management at the Chemical Company of Malaysia Hafsah Ahmad on regulation, responsibility and respect

“Risk is created at the point where decisions are made. While framework, reforms and guidelines are useful parameters, most companies realise that the individual’s value system is at the centre stage of risk. In our organisation, we have recognised this as part of our corporate culture and practised throughout via a much emphasised value system based on five pillars: passion, excellence, teamwork, integrity, responsibility and respect.

“At the heart of the Asian value system lies the basic belief system in the form of various religions. These are as alive today in Asia as any time in its past, as can be seen in the religion demographic of the region. By observation of the abundance and usage of mosques, churches and temples, the majority can be said to be practising believers.

“A critical point is when we realise that a higher sense of integrity correlates deeply with the conscience of the decision-maker and the values he or she adopts. Value systems are dependent on, and nurtured by, society rather than the individual.

“Financial market reforms stem mainly from events that have proliferated in the West. While noting that risk occurs where there are opportunities – and with global connectivity like never before today opportunities are everywhere – it has not helped the credibility of regulations imposed to date when major financial events continue to make the world’s headlines.

“The positive expectations for compliance to engage managers’ holistic introspection of the company’s knowledge, experience and capabilities and to promote a self-regulatory culture for risk improvement is undeniable. However, the efficacy of these objectives can be lost when regulations are imposed upon businesses without appropriate timing.

“Constant regulatory changes may cause operational disruption as valuable resources are channelled to compliance issues. Compliance for the sake of complying does not necessarily mean improved standards or competencies.”