Risk Management in a COVID-19 world

By Ken Weldin

21 January 2021

In recent days, PKF has been a key sponsor and contributor to the latest report issued by the Governance Institute of Australia: the Risk Management Professional of the Future. The Report was launched at the Institute’s national conference, which like many others in 2020 was a fully online and virtual event.

In a year which began with the devastating bushfires in the Australia summer, 2020 then took another turn in a way few could have truly anticipated with the COVID 19 pandemic. The extended uncertainty, health crises and economic impacts of lockdowns have touched every company in every sector in some way. Indeed, writing this article in Victoria, many of us are still to fully return to our offices and worksites.

The Report asks the questions:

  • What does risk look like in 2021 and beyond into the future in the environment of maximum uncertainty?
  • Is there still hope for the risk management profession, noting that the word ‘unprecedented’ has been used an unprecedented number of times?

In helping to prepare this report, the following key aspects came to mind:


  • A key role of the Risk Profession is to find the balance between what you know is relevant and what your audience is interested in.
  • Have you found what your relevance is? Do you know what your audience is interested in?
  • What if you have something important to say and no one is listening?
  • In order to influence and have the attention of those that matter, you need trust, you need respect and in order to be effective, at all times you need to be ferociously independent.

Responding to change

  • Risk in the future will increasingly focus on: Responding not reacting
  • Part of that ability will be anchored around a true understanding of ‘Who would miss us if we didn’t exist next year?’
  • Are you helping to shape ‘what’ your organisation ‘will’ do & ‘why’ in order to protect what makes it special rather than just reporting on what happened in the past.
  • Scenario planning or stress testing are now essential tools that cannot be narrow minded or tick the box exercises.

The spirit in which risk work should take place

Risk should: 

  • Be proactive and innovative
  • Deliver clarity
  • Actively listen

These last three touch points are essential attributes of a strong risk management framework. They also represent the core values and goals of each one of our people at PKF.

PKF is proud to continue our long association with the Institute in serving as a research partner for the Risk Management Professional of the Future. We share the Institute’s goals in promoting the highest levels of good governance and within that, the ever important function that risk professionals play across all sectors of our economy. 


If you are looking to better structure the risk efforts in your organisation, our teams are ready to assist you, assess your ability and capacity to manage in these uncertain times and plan ahead into 2021 and beyond with confidence.