Clarity Mag

Risky business

In September, the Governance Institute of Australia held its 2022 National Conference, for many marking a return to face-to-face events in Melbourne after you know what.

The theme for the conference was ‘Modern Philosophies’ and explored risk management, ESG, societal leadership, the regulatory environment, innovation, inclusiveness and equality, as well as the metaverse, as we prepare for 2023 and what lies beyond.

I was fortunate to chair a fireside chat titled ‘Risky Business’. The session featured expert commentary from Jacqui O’Dea, Chief Risk Officer at GPT Group, and Catherine Robson, bringing the perspective of a director from her roles at Greater Bank, Lumos Diagnostics and Scale Investors.

So, what is the context for the 2022 Risky Business discussion?

  • Tough times for a variety of reasons that probably don’t need repeating. For some, governance is a really hard thing to do well and it follows that that risk can also be hard work. Given the importance of both, they are therefore worth doing well
  • Integrity risks are often described as what happens when no one is looking, but we often see bad behaviours in plain sight when people are looking
  • Grey swan events are becoming more frequent. These are like a ‘black swan’ but where you say, well actually, we could have seen that coming. Big impact yes, but not really a major surprise
  • Unlike a project, product launch or a campaign, ‘risk - and opportunity - never stops.’ So how do you keep momentum and breathe new life and vigour into risk reporting? How do you do it to encourage growth and performance rather than compliance and conformance?

The key takeaways from the discussion included the following:

  • Risk is in the spotlight and it is its time to shine. Consider if you have sufficient resources, skills and momentum in your risk efforts, and if not, what will it take for you to change?
  • Distilling complex information is a key skill, and one that cannot be underestimated or delegated for another day
  • Risk is best with personal engagement rather than through a spreadsheet. We used to talk about the ‘shoe leather’ test of getting out there and walking the floor. As we move into a post pandemic phase, are you trying to manage risk solely through a screen?
  • More information doesn’t necessarily translate to more insight. How you balance ‘what you want to say’ and ‘what your audience wants to hear’ can be tricky especially when dealing with downsides or bad news
  • Active listening and showing intent are critical. Key skills to today’s risk functions include being curious, well read, interested and ferociously independent.

PKF is proud to continue its long association with the Governance Institute and share its 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 help you assess your ability and capacity to manage in these uncertain times and plan ahead into 2023 and beyond with confidence.

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