Clients and newcomers to the field of risk management have often asked, “What makes a great risk manager?” In the 13 years that I have led Risk Talent Associates, the leading executive recruiting firm in risk management, I have found that exceptional risk managers have all four of the following traits:
1) Quantitative Skills – While some people are more quantitative than others, top risk managers understand the nuances of financial risk management and the metrics that are important. Not everyone has a PhD, but the best risk managers understand the models and the results at the detail level.
2) Market Savvy – Top Risk Managers need to know the financial markets, or their specific industry, such as healthcare. They need to know the nuances of their market including the products traded in financial services, or the key metrics in healthcare. In both cases, financial and healthcare, the risk manager must have intimate knowledge of the regulatory environment.
3) Strategic – Exceptional Risk Managers look forward. Internal Auditors look backward. Particularly in Enterprise Risk Management, the best risk managers need to be thinking about the risks impacting their firm today, as well as expected risks in the future.
4) Communicative – Exceptional risk managers can communicate key concepts and risks to varied constituencies. Communication with clients, board members, executives, regulators and others all must be handled professionally and delicately so that the risk issues are clearly understood.
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