Risk Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Risk managers help organisations identify, analyse, control and monitor the risks that might otherwise prevent them from achieving their objectives.

Every organisation faces a different risk profile. Financial organisations are largely concerned with financial risks, particularly credit and market risk. However, firms in the transport or extraction industries are mainly concerned with safety and environmental risk, health services with patient safety, and manufacturers with the risks to do with their supply chain. All businesses face risks connected with their employees and their actions, for example their exposure to fires, accidents and law suits, and the security of their systems.

A risk manager's duties depend upon the sector, but they generally include:

  • Conducting detailed risk surveys and investigations.
  • Helping the management team identify and assess their organisation's risks and controls.
  • Working with project managers to ensure that exposure to risk is taken into account.
  • Working with other managers to identify and address risks, and implement controls in their areas.
  • Producing and implementing proposals to control and reduce risks, for example insurance cover and safety campaigns.
  • Communicating with staff to promote the understanding and reduction of risk.
  • Explaining the organisation's risk profile to investors, bankers, customers and clients.
  • Keeping accurate records.
  • Preparing and implementing business continuity plans to help the organisation recover in the event of an emergency.

Risk managers work closely with other professionals including engineers, surveyors, accident liability specialists, internal auditors, accountants, actuaries, financial managers and investment specialists. The work involves reassuring managers and stakeholders, including private investors and shareholders, that every care has been taken to minimise risk to the business, customers or the general public.

Risk managers normally work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. There are some opportunities for part-time and flexible working.

Risk managers are office-based, but may spend time visiting colleagues and clients. Some visits could be to potentially dangerous or industrial locations, including construction sites, oil installations and engineering plants, where risk managers may have to work at heights or in noisy and dusty surroundings. In these situations, they may wear hard hats, high-visibility jackets and safety boots. This work can be physically demanding.

Some sites may affect people with allergies to dust and chemicals.

Risk managers with international organisations may have to travel overseas.

A driving licence may be useful.

Starting salaries may be around £21,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Risk managers tend to be employed in large private organisations and the public sector. In smaller organisations, risk management is normally taken on by finance or operations departments.

Employers include insurance companies and brokers, local authorities, NHS trusts, investment banks, engineering and construction firms, charities and commercial businesses.

There are opportunities throughout the UK. The focus on reducing business costs and increasing profitability has led to a large growth in risk management positions. There is keen competition for jobs, although there is a shortage of people with a broad knowledge of risk management.

Vacancies are advertised in national newspapers, professional insurance and health and safety publications, including Post Magazine, Insurance Times and Strategic Risk, and on specialist websites such as that of the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) at www.theirm.org.

Education and Training

Most risk managers are graduates. Although any degree subject is acceptable, graduates in risk management, economics, business studies, law, management, insurance or engineering may have an advantage in gaining a training post. Previous experience in insurance is usually necessary as well.

The minimum requirements for a degree course are usually two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications.

School leavers with GCSE's/S grades may be able to join as insurance technicians, claims handlers or risk assistants and work their way up. They can then study for a professional qualification such as the IRM Certificate or International Diploma in Risk Management, which are available by distance learning.

The Diploma enables you to keep your options open with a new choice of qualification.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is a combination of practical experience, in-house training and studying for professional qualifications.

The IRM Certificate in Risk Management is a broad, introductory qualification, achievable in less than a year. It leads to IRM Certification (CIRM).

The IRM International Diploma is a postgraduate-level qualification, offering an internationally-recognised risk qualification which is academically demanding, but also gives the practical skills necessary to work in any risk management sector. It leads to IRM Membership (MIRM). Members can choose to work towards Fellowship of the Institute (FIRM) by demonstrating their ongoing commitment to risk management and their contribution to the profession.

To take the IRM Diploma, candidates need:

  • The IRM Certificate in Risk Management
  • An honours degree (usually at least a 2.2)
  • Significant relevant experience in risk management at a senior level.

Risk managers progressing from an insurance background generally work towards the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Advanced Diploma, which leads to Associateship of the CII (ACII). People with this qualification can progress to take a Degree in Financial Services (Risk and Insurance Management) through the Institute of Financial Services (IFS).

Professional qualifications can generally be studied in various ways, including by flexible and distance learning. Online support is becoming increasingly common.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A risk manager should be:

  • An excellent communicator in speech and writing.
  • Able to explain the benefits of risk management clearly to colleagues and clients.
  • Tactful and diplomatic.
  • A good motivator, able to influence people to change their behaviour.
  • Methodical, accurate and thorough.
  • Commercially aware and keen to improve performance.
  • Good at analysis, to consider potential risks and consequences.
  • Knowledgeable on the regulations relevant to their industry.
  • Good at problem solving.
  • Patient and unbiased.
  • Able to manage time and prioritise work.
  • Able to meet deadlines.

Your Long Term Prospects

Experienced risk managers may be promoted to more senior roles, handling more complex risks and managing a team. A willingness to work throughout the UK may increase promotion prospects.

There are also opportunities to specialise in a technical field or industry sector.

Self-employment opportunities are limited and are mainly in risk consulting or training.

Overseas opportunities may be available.

Get Further Information

Association of Insurance and Risk Managers,
6 Lloyd's Avenue, London EC3N 3AX
Tel: 020 7480 7610
Website: www.airmic.com

Chartered Insurance Institute (CII),
42-48 High Road, South Woodford,
London E18 2JP
Tel: 020 8989 8464
Website: www.cii.co.uk

Financial Services Skills Council,
51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 257 3772
Website: www.fssc.org.uk

Institute of Financial Services (IFS), IFS House,
4-9 Burgate Lane, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2XJ
Tel: 01227 818609
Website: www.ifslearning.com

The Institute of Risk Management (IRM),
6 Lloyd's Avenue, London EC3N 3AX
Tel: 020 7709 9808
Website: www.theirm.org

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH),
The Grange, Highfield Drive,
Wigston, Leicestershire LE18 1NN
Tel: 0116 257 3100
Website: www.iosh.co.uk

National Examination Board in
Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH),
Dominus Way, Meridian Business Park,
Leicester LE19 1QW
Tel: 0116 263 4700
Website: www.nebosh.org.uk

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