“Nowadays, companies are not just competing on turnover and on costs but also on their ability to manage risks,” explains Carlo Cosimo, 25 years’ experience as a risk manager, one of the key figures at a time when the whole business world is caught up in managing the Coronavirus emergency.
The role of risk manager is gaining an ever higher profile in the running of today’s enterprises - especially in those with more advanced organisational structures, where carefully weighing up risks and investments becomes the main advantage to business success. But who and what is a risk manager?
“The risk manager is a professional who, either on the payroll of a company or as an external consultant, is in charge of managing a company’s risks. In other words, this is the person who, through analysis and evaluation, is able to identify and present the risks that could potentially have an impact on the company’s ability to achieve its strategic goals,” adds Alessandro De Felice, President of ANRA (the Italian Risk and Insurance Managers Association).
According to a research paper presented by ANRA in collaboration with global consulting firm Protivit, the profession of risk manager is also becoming more widespread in Italy. Of the 22 companies surveyed (compared to a total sample of 63 companies globally), more than 45% have a highly developed Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) system in place (the average within the total sample was 37%).
In Italy, out of 22 companies surveyed, more than 45% have a highly developed Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) system in place
So, Italy is doing well but there is always room for improvement. It is no accident, then, that only recently has there been greater clarity on the role of the risk manager - both in terms of its definition and in the qualifications required.
“I graduated in 2000 when there was no specific qualification in risk management. Since then, things have changed and post-graduate master’s qualifications are now available. Just after I graduated, I was given an opportunity by Pirelli to cut my teeth on the topic, supported by a company that was ahead of its time and already moving towards an integrated approach to risk management,” explains Filippo Miliani, now a risk manager within a Techint Group company.
Carlo Cosimo’s experience is very similar. “The role of Risk Manager has evolved over the last 20 years, growing in importance in terms of strategic value and responsibility. This explains why vocational training has also evolved: the youngsters in my team have a much better foundation than I had when I started out and their educational backgrounds are in engineering, law or economics. I learnt on the job after having studied economics.”
Nowadays, companies are not just competing on turnover and on costs but also on their ability to manage risks
These different educational backgrounds point at the multidisciplinary nature of the role. Alessandro De Felice explains further: “We can identify three distinct roles within risk management: the chief risk officer - the person who coordinates the whole system of risk management as an integral part of the strategy, governance and culture of the company; the insurance risk manager who manages those insurable risks more closely associated with the organisation’s operations; and the insurance manager, the person who conscientiously and efficiently manages the company’s insurance coverage.”
It has come as no surprise that Italy’s professional association for risk managers, ANRA, has introduced the ANRA Learning Path: five modules designed for anyone looking to start a career in this field. After a final exam, participants receive a qualification certified by RIMAP, the only one that is internationally recognised.
In addition to technical training, what other characteristics do you need for such a role?
“Above all you must be willing to continuously upgrade your know-how and be very adaptable,” Cosimo reveals. “Just take the example of the Coronavirus emergency which has forced companies to introduce smartworking and become more digital. This brings both opportunities and risks and we had to deal with them without the benefit of past experience.”
Filippo Miliani adds: “It is very important to be able to communicate with the risk owner. To do this you need to be aware of and know how to interpret their needs, precautions and the requirements of their business activity.”