StrategicRISK’s survey lifts the lid on what Australia’s risk professionals are earning and examines the likelihood of a decent pay rise in the year ahead


If you’re a head of risk management or insurance in Australia and being paid less than $214,000 a year, it might be time to talk to your boss about a pay rise.

This was the average salary for ‘heads of’ risk professionals in the country, according to the StrategicRISK Australia 2016 risk management survey.

The average salary for risk managers was lower, at $165,625 a year.

At the other end of the scale, all chief risk officers (CRO) in Australia who responded to the survey reported earning more than $250,000 a year. This is in stark contrast to the average CRO salary across the Asia-Pacific region as a whole, where only 56% reported an annual take-home pay of more than $250,000, according to the 2015 Asia Risk Report.

But Australian risk professionals looking for a pay rise in the next 12 months might find themselves disappointed.

Recruiters that StrategicRISK spoke to said they didn’t expect risk salaries to increase by much in the next year.

According to Hays research, most employers (56%) in the financial services sector are expecting to increase salaries by less than 3% in the year to come. A further 12% have no plans to offer any increase whatsoever.

“Salaries within the risk space as a whole have reflected that,” says Hays business director Carl Piesse. “A lot of organisations are still very cost- conscious at the moment and they’re doing a lot more around additional benefits, such as flexible working environments.

“That’s becoming more important to candidates as well, and that’s a big appeal for a lot of the large organisations.”

Compliance and Risk Management Recruitment’s associate director, David Bakes, says the salaries for some risk roles could even go backwards, reflecting an oversupply of candidates.

But in certain sectors, the demand – not to mention remuneration – for quality risk professionals is on the increase. These include superannuation and the wealth sector, financial crime, IT, cyber risk and security.

“There’s a big push in the market for candidates [in these sectors] and all of this tends to raise salaries even more,” Bakes says.

Piesse agrees: “Someone with a strong cyber security risk background is the type of candidate that will be able to demand significant pay increases.”

That’s not to say that salaries for risk professionals outside of those industries are set in stone, however.

“The top 20% of candidates will always defy the medium and they will always command a premium in any market,” Bakes says.



So, what are hiring managers looking for in today’s risk professionals?

“Interpersonal skills and a sense of humour,” says Bakes.

“Risk and compliance frameworks have, in most companies, been developed and built. We’re at a stage now in the market where companies are trying to take that framework out through the business and they’re looking for candidates that can actually explain that to the business in simple English. So a relationship-management skillset is starting to become very important.

“The new risk managers will need to be change agents – they’re influencers of change in the organisation, be it a change in process, change in attitude, or change in culture,” he says.


Both recruiters said many of their candidates today tend to focus on the short-term benefits of a new role and go for the money.

Instead, Bakes recommends candidates look more holistically at a job offer and ask how it would help them achieve their long-term career goals.

He recommends candidates consider who their manager would be, the skills they would gain from the role, the work-life balance of the organisation, and if the risk function operates in a collegiate or dysfunctional way.

“Also consider what the brand image is in the market and what that could do for your career in the future,” he says.

The positive side to all of this is that opportunities for risk managers are more abundant than ever.

Piesse says: “If you go back a few years, risk wasn’t necessarily seen as a career that you wanted to get into – it was something that you fell into. Whereas now it’s very much a career path and there’s a lot more opportunities opening up.”

And if you do want to have that conversation with your manager about how much you’re taking home, make sure you go in prepared.

Piesse says: “You need to have a clear understanding of what the expectations on you in the role are and what the deliverables are, and then you’ve got to be able to demonstrate that you are achieving those and adding value to the bigger team around you.

“You have to be prepared to have a very frank and open conversation with your manager.”