Risk Watch with Alberta QUARCOOPOME:The new breed of risk managers (3)


This is the concluding article on the series on the risk managers and the characteristics required of them.

The Image of The Risk Manager

Earlier on, we looked at some interesting perceptions that some staff of financial services have about their Risk Personnel:

  • They are trouble makers and always ready to report anything to the Executive or Board at the least chance.
  • They are very petty and always looking to catch a thief.
  • They are definitely not the CEO’s cup of tea and usually ‘walk alone’
  • They enjoying using audit and other risk management reports to gain political power.
  • They like playing political games and are paper pushers
  • They are ignorant of business strategies and are narrow-minded.

Dear risk managers, don’t let these one-sided opinions lower your spirits. You are there to perform a job. Many questions have been asked about what the risk managers were doing when bank crises were looming and all the signs were on the wall.

Here are some additional traits and expectations that Risk managers are expected to possess: 

Smooth Change Facilitation

One of the most important tasks of risk managers is to facilitate changes smoothly. Change is always inevitable but so is resistance to change. It is basic human nature of people to try and keep their methods and customs constant.

Financial knowledge and skills

All businesses have some element of financial risk but a good risk manager should identify and measure the risk, as well as implement strategies to mitigate those risks.

Analytical risk assessment skills

A Risk manager should have analytical skills to facilitate the assessment of current risks as well as predict the future risks. When you are not sure, call for more data to fill in any gaps and make strategic decisions. Transparency is of essence here.

Strategic thinking 

A risk manager should not be reactive. A manager must see the bigger picture and find solutions. Policies must not be knee-jerks but rather cater for avoidance of possible risks. Since the world is dynamic, strategic thinking takes account of all possible red flags and ways of minimizing them in the system.

Problem-solving mindset

If a risk manager does not have the technical know-how to solve problems, then it is a no no. If potential risks are found, you must be curious enough to look at the business issue and get to the crucial solutions.

Good knowledge of Legal and Regulatory requirements

A risk manager must have all legal and regulatory directives on his finger-tips. But it is vital that you invest the time to stay up to date, and understand all regulation changes and updates. Great risk managers must tackle regulation updates with the seriousness that it deserves.

Ability to build relationships

You will also need to be good at relationship building because, in order to look at and manage risk, you will have to manage relationships between several different departments, as well as external groups such as stakeholders.

You’ll also need to have the ability to produce risk reports, attend meetings and present your proposals to other senior members of the management team or the board.

Working under pressure

Managing risk is inherently stressful: it means managing huge issues, problems and solutions, often with very real and expensive issues if not contained.

Having systems in place, and planning strategically, can really help you to mitigate the stress involved.

Management and leadership skills

Having all the skills above are great, but to really excel in risk management you need good management and leadership skills in order to support your staff to also manage risk in their departments, help the team accept changes, as well as great leadership to make it all happen.

Good managers are able to command respect while remaining friendly with the whole team. The Risk manager’s ability to bring the team along is very crucial. After all the hard work constantly assess data, looking for strategic ways to achieve goals and solve problems, you can spot risks a mile off. It is always incumbent to get the whole team on board with you.

As you identify and manage risk, there will inevitably be changes that need to be implemented in the business or learnings for the whole team. It’s your job to get everyone to see how important it is that your advice and learnings are worth listening too! Diplomacy and tact in your risk management strategy only work when everyone is on board.

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 Final Summary- A Person with Many Colours

  • Flow with the tide, but with caution.
  • Don’t be stuck in the box. Think outside the box and find the next best practice.
  • Think globally but act locally.
  • Don’t get stuck in the mud. Ease yourself out and look ahead for the next dry spot to move your team to.
  • Be a strategic leader.
  • Get updated and don’t surround yourself with just policies and procedures.
  • Be adaptable…banking is dynamic
  • Avoid re-engineering of the wheel.
  • Update yourself and be knowledgeable about your industry.
  • Do not use old solutions to solve new problems.
  • Don’t be too all-knowing. Share and listen well to others.
  • Don’t be a “yes” man or woman.
  • Play an advocacy role and train risk champions to spread the gospel.

I hope all risk managers take a cue from some of these things so that others will regard them as true Business Enablers and not Wet Blankets. To all risk management staff, get closer to your staff and play your cards well, for you will remembered for leaving a good legacy.


Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of Three books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story” and “The Modern Branch Manager’s Companion”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.


Website www.alkanbiz.com

Email:alberta@alkanbiz.com  or [email protected]

Tel: +233-0244333051/+233-0244611343

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