Risk assessment plays an important role in helping organisations to understand, prioritise and manage risk in order to avoid problems and capitalise on opportunities. It enables clients to achieve their objectives, which might include expanding their business, outperforming competition or protecting their reputation.
Roles for graduates
Risk assessors methodically identify risks, evaluate them and recommend the appropriate actions to take; for example, if a client wants to expand their business, they’ll need to consider the costs of staff numbers, the available pool of skills, the technology required, competitor reactions and supply chain disruption.
Risk assessors work closely with executive boards and senior management to provide advice on all areas of business from security and fraud to environmental and social performance. Technology is also an increasingly important area of focus, resulting in more accountancy firms employing IT specialists to offer expert advice. Risk assessment services are sometimes offered alongside compliance advisory, helping businesses to meet with new laws and regulations that affect their industry, and governance advisory, ensuring that a business has an effective set of processes to meet the expectations of management and stakeholders.
Training and specialising
Some accountancy firms employ graduates directly into risk assessment roles but most will expect you to train initially in a broader area such as assurance and then specialise later on. You might have the opportunity to gain relevant experience on a rotational graduate programme. Alternatively, you could join a specialist risk department in a large industrial organisation. Your primary responsibilities as a trainee might include examining daily business functions to assess existing controls and working with senior members of your team to make recommendations for the client.
Logic and creativity required
Working in risk assessment requires numerical and analytical skills. You need a questioning, logical mindset to identify problems and the creativity to come up with solutions. Presenting your ideas to senior management requires strong interpersonal skills and confidence.
Best and worst
Pinpointing issues and coming up with solutions is a particularly satisfying and intellectually stimulating job. However, it is a predominantly advisory role so if you’re not keen on taking a step back and letting others make the final decisions, a career in risk assessment might not be for you.