Why Risk Managers are hot


Being prepared for an uncertain and volatile future that includes climate change, technological disruption, geopolitical risk, threats to the global supply chain and issues related to cyber-crime, data protection and privacy, is a top priority for many organisations nowadays.

It might not sound as a ‘top job’, but Covid-19 and the increasingly complex regulatory landscape has made the risk management job market growing significantly.

Melina Kayila, Managing Consultant in the banking & financial services division of recruitment specialist Robert Walters, explains how the need to navigate to a new normal has made the demand for Risk Managers peak in the past few months. 

What does a Risk Manager do on a daily basis?

Melina: “A Risk Manager in an organisation is the person who is most aware of what could go wrong at any time, how it could affect the business goals and what action needs to be taken to either resolve the problem or its consequences. As part of the investigation process, the Risk Manager will analyse key risk indicators and determine concerns that could threat the organisation’s confidential information, financial loss or damage to the organisation’s assets.

The potential risks he or she defines can be of different kinds: operational, compliance, financial or technology risks. The Risk Manager is in charge of planning, designing and implementing an overall risk management process. Some of the measures taken include defining crisis management, designing business continuity plans, introducing operation protocols, insurance coverage and updating the procedures correlating to the latest best practices. In addition, they provide the necessary support and training to the team and build risk awareness throughout the entire organisation.  

A Risk Manager usually reports to the Chief Risk Officer, who is part of the board of directors or the management committee. Depending on the size of the organisation, multiple Risk Managers can be employed, all with their specialised focus, for example: an Operational Risk Manager, the Financial Risk Manager who’s covering market, credit or liquidity risk, a Business Continuity Manager, an IT Security Risk Manager, etc.”

What is the ideal educational background of a Risk Manager?

“A Master in Finance, Economics or Business Management is ideal for a career in financial or operational risk management. For professionals with the ambition to become IT Security Risk Manager, a Master in Information Technology is more suitable.

Although it is not a must, having a risk management certification is a strong plus, as it is a confirmation of your expertise and knowledge, which is highly valued by potential employers.

For risk professionals who want to work in the banking sector, knowledge of Basel III (the global framework on bank capital adequacy, stress testing and market liquidity risk that was developed in response to the deficiencies in financial regulation revealed by the financial crisis of 2007-2008), is a must”, says Melina.

Which skillset do financial institutions look for when recruiting a Risk Manager?

Melina: “Strong financial acumen and being able to understand the numbers is essential, even if your focus is outside market risk or credit risk. Being able to collect and analyse data, seeing potential gaps and dive into the details to get a clear overall picture are skills every Risk Manager should possess.  

Working in risk management obviously also requires a problem-solving attitude. The Risk Manager needs to be able to see the bigger picture, break it down and look strategically for solutions. In high stressful times when decisions need to be made quickly, Risk Managers need to demonstrate they can work under pressure. Risk reports need to be made and key findings need to be presented to the senior management or the board of directors.

The Risk Manager works in close collaboration with different departments, stakeholders and networks intensively with external parties. Hence, strong communication skills are required. To communicate actionable outcomes to peers and senior management, he or she should demonstrate strong presentation, negotiation and influencing skills as well.

In many organisations, there is a mix of Dutch and French speaking people in the team. However, reporting is often done in English. To communicate well with both internal and external parties, a strong language knowledge is key.”

How is the demand for Risk Managers at the moment?

“There has always been a need for Risk Managers, but January this year showed a significant increase in the demand for risk professionals and exceeded even the demand from beginning of 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Belgium. Digitalisation within the banking sector resulted in an increase in new model risk management challenges. Banks and financial institutions had to face rapid changes in the lending and economic environment such as the impact of government-imposed shutdowns and restrictions. Also, as a result of Covid-19, the mortgage market is booming and this is also visible in the demand for risk and credit management professionals.

Job security become increasingly important for many people in the past few months, and this is no different for risk professionals. However, those who are keen to progress in their career, see this period as a challenge and invest the time and effort in additional education, in order to transition to a new environment offering them further growth opportunities. The outlook for Risk Managers is excellent, so there are plenty of opportunities to choose from.”

What are possible career opportunities for Risk Managers?

“Risk Managers looking for a next step usually become Deputy Chief Risk Officer or Chief Risk Officer, after a proven track record and expertise in one or more domains. The growth in business and technological advancement means that the demand for Chief Risk Officers is also increasing. In order to build an enterprise risk management framework, the Chief Risk Officer will, along with the board and senior management, develop a risk culture that is communicated and well-understood throughout the entire organisation. It’s his or her job to make sure that the entire organisation stays within the bounds of the risk appetite, in good times and bad”, says Melina.

What salary can a Risk Manager expect?

The Robert Walters Salary Survey tool reveals that a Risk Manager with 5-9 years of experience earns between 90-136k EUR gross per year. Those with 9-15 years of experience can count on an annual gross salary of 98-168k EUR. Depending on the size of the organisation, Risk Managers with more than 15 years of experience earn up to 250 k EUR gross per year. “In the majority of organisations, this salary is accompanied by extra-legal advantages such as luncheon vouchers, insurance package, a net allowance, a company card and fuel card,” concludes Melina.

More info?

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Looking to recruit a Risk Manager for your team? Upload your vacancy or contact one of our offices.


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