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Enterprise Risk Management 2020

Robust risk management has never been more important for the economic recovery of organisations globally

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Iain Wright

CFIRM, Chair, Institute of Risk Management

The role of risk management is to help organisations achieve their objectives in an uncertain world. In 2020 that world was turned upside down as a long observed, although perhaps not sufficiently managed, risk – the global pandemic – became a live issue.

We were pleased that nearly one thousand of IRM’s ten thousand members and contacts around the world were able at such a busy time to contribute to our survey. Our aims were to find out how risk management functions were responding to the crisis, whether their plans were working, what has proved helpful to their response and what has not, how this situation might affect the development of the profession and what we should be learning from it. It appears that our community is fully engaged with the pandemic response.

Technology, communication and leadership

Good technology, good communications and good leadership have been rightly highlighted as the key positive factors in maintaining operations. Many respondents reported how their personal and organisational investment in risk management expertise has paid off.

For the future, we expect to see a sharper focus on resilience and on operational risk management. These topics have been around for some time, but this period of crisis will focus attention on ensuring organisations have the people and skills to raise their game to what will be required in ‘the new normal’.

We mustn’t allow the magnitude of the current crisis to obscure the other major (and interconnected) risks that we all face. We still need to manage the risks arising from climate change, cyber risk, supply chain disruption, economic and geo-political volatility, to mention just a few.

While we are seeing businesses closing and others making staff redundant across the UK, others are booming. Those that have been nimble and adjusted their offering to online delivery or diversified their portfolios have fared well.

The pandemic and its impact are exceptional and are a test of how many organisations’ risk plans were, overall, adequate to deal with it. How do you plan, for example, for many of your customers to close down over the course of a few weeks? Empty high streets and shops? Lockdown and lack of certainty in the markets? Business interruption, continuity and resilience have never been tested quite so rigorously across all sectors globally.

The IRM and the Institute of Operational Risk (which is part of the IRM Group) and our wider global risk management community stand ready and confident to lead the response. There’s never been a better time to become qualified.

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