Rising demand for risk managers presents an opportunity for the risk industry to develop as a formal profession, according to Scott Ryrie, the CEO of the Risk Management Institution of Australasia, speaking from this year’s RMIA Conference. 

The Risk Management Institution of Australasia (RMIA) Annual Conference 2018 is being held on Australia’s Gold Coast this week and Scott Ryrie, CEO of RMIA told StrategicRISK one of the big themes from the event was the professionalisation of the industry and formal risk education for people joining the industry.

Ryrie said growing demand for risk roles, and increasing numbers entering the profession from other industries means a more tailored education approach is required. RMIA is working with universities and education providers to develop more risk-led education offering, Ryrie said.

“There is a demand to get the risk function to develop as a profession, and we can see that coming,” Ryrie said. “The market wants that and RMIA wants to be part of that. The risk industry has to have some rigor about how people develop within the risk “profession”. People want to develop.”

“The demand is there from corporates, and universities and others are interested in delivering risk education. We have to bring it together. That is something RMIA would like to be in the middle of,” Ryrie added. 

Ryrie said there is a clamour for formal risk management education and qualifications: “People want education. People come into risk from all sorts of different disciplines. We need to cater for that from an education point of view; to tailor that education. That is what we are trying to do as an organisation. We are looking to work with education providers and consulting companies and universities because there is a huge demand.” he added.

He added the big four accounting giants were investing more time and capital into risk management — a clear sign the industry was developing: “The big four are gearing up for risk and are going in hard. Those companies don’t invest unless there are steady revenues. They see this as an important business stream.”

Ryrie said Australia’s Royal Commission into financial services misconduct had placed sharp focus on the need for risk professionals and further professionalisation of the industry. Ryrie said the Royal Commission had put risk “in the fast lane” with corporates having to improve their processes following the Australasian banking scandals.

Ryrie said: “The banks had a risk management process, but it was all about numbers and lacked the right culture. Risk wasn’t actively embedded, and therefore there were failures…There is a recognition that risk management has to be embedded within an organisation, rather than an audit function. Recognition of the importance of risk is happening in all levels of government, and in the private sector.”

The RMIA CEO said another key takeaway from this year’s conference was the need to embed risk management into an organisation, rather than tucking risk teams into audit functions or other parts of a business.

Ryrie said: “It is about making sure it is fully embedded in a business, and not just a governance function or tick box function. Risk should be a positive part of the business working on the upside, not sitting alongside the business looking at potential problems.. That has to start with the board and the executives. They have to acknowledge that the risk function adds value, and should empower people in the risk function to be part of the business. The business has to realise the value to allow that to occur.”

RMIA 2018 also looked at the challenges for the year ahead. Ryrie said a key issue was ensuring boardrooms recognised the importance of risk. He said: “One thing of huge focus since the Royal Commission is culture. It comes back to embedding risk in the company. You have got to have the right culture. Leadership, from the top, have to demonstrate they are really serious.”

He said risk managers across the region were keen to use technology to improve their work: “A lot of the new risk apps are very smart, and we have seen a lot from risk IT providers. Everyone wants to use technology to improve. Though technology is not enough without proper culture.”