Risk managers work with companies to assess and identify the potential risks that may hinder the reputation, safety, security and financial prosperity of their organisation.
Once these risks have been identified, assessed and evaluated, risk managers are then tasked with implementing processes and procedures to ensure that their client is fully prepared to deal with any potential threats.
A risk manager’s job is inspired by the mantra, “prevention is better than cure.” It’s all about avoiding threats and mitigating the effects of those which are essentially unavoidable.
Risk management careers are highly analytical and a large part of your time will be focused on conducting detailed risk assessments. This process involves analysing documents, statistics, reports and market trends. You’ll also be required to assess the organisation’s previous risk management policies and protocols.
Risk management is also about understanding an organisation’s business objectives. You’ll need to gather information about your client’s outgoings, legal responsibilities and environmental policies, and then evaluate the effects of any proposed risks against these current processes.
Life as a risk manager, however, is not just about going through information with a fine tooth comb: you’ll also need to have the ability to build relationships with your clients and their stakeholders. For instance, based on your analysis, you’ll have to produce risk reports, attend meetings and present your proposals to senior members of staff.
The kind of solutions which risk managers suggest and implement are likely to include insurance, health and safety policies, disaster recovery measures and business continuity plans. Once these have been put in place, risk managers will often return to organisations again in the future to conduct additional audits and assessments.
Salary & benefits
Risk managers can earn a handsome wage. However, it’s likely that you’ll start your career as a risk assistant or risk analyst. Risk assistants tend to earn between £16,000 and £23,000 per annum, while risk analysts are usually on around £23,000 to £30,000.
Once you eventually progress into a risk manager position, you could earn anywhere between £30,000 and £80,000 a year.
Risk managers tend to work nine-to-five, although as you reach more senior levels, you may be required to put in extra hours in the evening and at the weekend from time to time.
For the most part, you’ll be working in an office environment, but occasionally you’ll be required to travel to other locations for client visits.
Theoretically, you could work your way up the career ladder from an administrative position without going to university. However, if you want to break into the world of risk management much faster, you’ll need to obtain a strong undergraduate degree (2:2 minimum).
It doesn’t matter which subject you study, but it may help your chances if you do a course relating to business or commerce in some way, such as economics, business studies, law, engineering or financial management.
You could even do a degree in risk management. This will understandably help you to stand out from candidates that have done a less relevant degree. Another way of boosting your employability is to do a postgraduate degree in risk management.
Generally though, you’ll need to be patient and analytical, with an eye for detail. Great communication skills and commercial awareness will also be incredibly useful.
Training & progression
The majority of your training will be done ‘on-the-job’ under the supervision of senior colleagues. However, various organisations, such as the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) and the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), offer a range of external training courses for risk managers.
Many organisations offer graduate schemes for aspiring risk managers. From this level, you’ll eventually progress to becoming a full-on risk manager, before going on to become a chief risk officer, once you’ve gained a wealth of experience.
Many risk managers eventually choose to become freelance contractors. Ironically, this career path has a lot more risk involved, though self-employed risk managers can earn a lot more money.