FERMA’s next President Jo Willaert looks at the risk manager profession

FERMA President Jo Willaert

Today, outside financial services we suffer from a lack of clear recognition of what the function of risk management involves and so also a lack of appreciation of the role of the risk manager. There are risk managers located in the financial function, in HR, or in property or in environmental protection. An important number of our members are insurance managers which function is different from the one of risk manager. The problem is that there are as many definitions of risk management as there are companies, and it depends on the culture of the company. For the time being, it is not always clear in the minds of many risk managers themselves and nor in the management of companies.

This lack of clear positioning makes it difficult to differentiate our profession and without that differentiation, we can struggle to secure our positions as the organisational structures of large companies evolve. Risk management may not get enough support from top management, and risk managers may not be reporting to the right person. It is important for risk management to be situated at a high enough level in the organisation that it can take a helicopter view over the different departments and silos.

This is why Certification is so critical to the future of the profession. It will mean immediate recognition that these people are professionals. The company can recognise their skills and qualities, so that where they sit in the structure of the organisation becomes less important. Creating Certification is a very ambitious project but I believe it will make an enormous difference to recognition of the risk management and risk managers.