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My motto: risk management should be the disruptive intelligence that pierces perfect-place arrogance

The proliferation of non executive directors and the quantities of them has probably been one of the great advances in the way our companies operate over the last thirty years. It is now common for boards to appoint people with a wide range of professional disciplines as non-executive directors: accountants, marketeers, HR professionals. All of these are pretty much two-a-penny at non-executive level and can be found widely represented on the boards of public, private and governmental organisations. Indeed Corporate Governance requirements, as first enshrined in the Smith Report in the UK, pretty much guarantee the presence of a former finance director or audit partner on the board.

To call yourself a risk professional it is not good enough any longer to have dabbled in the dark arts

But one area where boards still struggle is in the appointment of experienced, professionally qualified risk managers as Risk Directors. To call yourself a risk professional it is not good enough any longer to have dabbled in the dark arts, or to have been a banker, or even an audit partner or finance director. To understand real risk management, rather than much of the rubbish that is peddled in its name takes as much time and effort as becoming a truly competent finance director, of HR professional, or marketeer. In other words a career in the discipline.

A risk professional’s role is to help build long term sustainable organisations that can deal with the stresses of multiple uncertain futures

Given the importance of risk management to the future of every organisation, especially those that are up to their necks in the “here-and-now”, it is high time that all boards (and take note: headhunters who are advising them…) find experienced risk professionals to join them because a risk professional’s role is to help build long term sustainable organisations that can deal with the stresses of multiple uncertain futures. Which reminds me of my motto: risk management should be the disruptive intelligence that pierces perfect-place arrogance… What better preparation for making a contribution to the debate around the boardroom?

Richard Anderson is both a Chartered Accountant and Fellow of the Institute of Risk Management, where he has been Chairman for three years, and a non-executive director for six years.

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