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How to Become a Risk Manager

If you’re looking for a rewarding job in financial services, then becoming a risk manager could be a great career fit for you. Risk managers support the overall operations of a company by determining and evaluating different types of risks. People interested in this position will need a background in business administration, economics, or finance to understand risk management and financial analysis.

Risk managers handle risks relating to a company’s financial health, strategic management, legal liabilities, and reputation. They evaluate risk by using and analyzing market trends, statistics, and documentation to create goals that will better help the company reach its goals. Once these assessments are over, risk managers will present various reports and proposals to higher executives to determine what policies need to be adjusted or implemented.

This job opportunity requires risk managers to work independently and make the right decisions regarding the different risks a company faces. It will be important for risk managers to have good analytical and problem-solving skills to help the company be successful. If risk managers perform well, they can be promoted to higher executive positions such as the chief risk officer.

Sample job description

The risk manager will analyze and manage risk management issues for our organization. You will review current risk management policies and protocols, and observe and assess internal operations as well. You will identify potential threats and evaluate risk levels and implications. The risk manager will prepare and present risk assessment reports and proposals, and create plans to prevent and mitigate problems. You will evaluate employees’ risk awareness and train them when necessary. Ultimately, the risk manager will ensure that our company secures its reputation and profitability by controlling risk. As an ideal candidate, you have extensive knowledge of risk management best practices and policies, industry compliance standards and regulations, and experience auditing and reporting procedures. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Conduct assessments to define and analyze possible risks
  • Perform risk evaluations 
  • Develop risk management controls and systems
  • Evaluate risk levels and implications
  • Compile information about an organization’s practices and legal obligations
  • Report any risks to the risk management director
  • Observe and assess internal operations
  • Prepare and present risk assessment reports and proposals
  • Create business continuity plans to limit and control risks and liabilities
  • Implement health and safety plans
  • Conduct policy and compliance audits
  • Provide staff with risk awareness training and support   
  • Maintain records of insurance policies and claims
  • Identify and review any instances of suspicious account activity, fraud, and unethical work practices

Education and experience

  • Conduct assessments to define and analyze possible risks
  • Perform risk evaluations 
  • Develop risk management controls and systems
  • Evaluate risk levels and implications
  • Compile information about an organization’s practices and legal obligations
  • Report any risks to the risk management director
  • Observe and assess internal operations
  • Prepare and present risk assessment reports and proposals
  • Create business continuity plans to limit and control risks and liabilities
  • Implement health and safety plans
  • Conduct policy and compliance audits
  • Provide staff with risk awareness training and support   
  • Maintain records of insurance policies and claims
  • Identify and review any instances of suspicious account activity, fraud, and unethical work practices

Required skills and qualifications

  • Extensive knowledge of industry compliance standards and regulations
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Exceptional organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Strong computer and research skills
  • Excellent mathematical and critical-thinking skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience auditing and reporting procedures
  • Proficiency in risk management, financial analysis, and related software
  • Previous experience in risk management or related role 
  • Professional Risk Manager (PRM) certification is a plus

Typical work environment

Risk managers typically work in an office. Those who work for one company spend most of their time in an office analyzing risk management audits in order to identify possible risks. Throughout the week, they participate in meetings with upper management and present their findings to the group. Some risk managers work as private consultants and spend many hours traveling to meet with clients and perform onsite risk management studies and audits. Work conditions may be hazardous for those who conduct risk audits for organizations like large manufacturing plants, nuclear facilities, and product testing labs since their job function is to identify areas of liability.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a risk manager in an office setting are 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Typical work hours may vary for those who work as private consultants due to time spent traveling to meet with clients.

Available certifications

Risk managers work in a variety of industries, and many institutions offer certifications for risk managers. In some organizations, a risk manager has to be certified or licensed. Here are some of the top certifications available:

  • Certified Risk Manager (CRM) Certification. The Certified Risk Manager (CRM) Program is a nationally recognized advanced education program for today’s risk management professionals. The CRM designation demonstrates a high level of technical knowledge and a commitment to the risk management field. The CRM courses cover the current and complex technical knowledge and approach necessary for risk management professionals. They provide a comprehensive overview of the five steps of risk management – identification of exposures, analysis of risk, risk control techniques, financing of risk, and administration. While there are no specific prerequisites for taking the CRM courses, it is recommended that participants in the program have at least two years of full-time experience in the insurance or risk management industry.
  • RIMS-Certified Risk Management Professional (CRMP) Certification. The RIMS-Certified Risk Management Professional certification validates your performance ability, technical knowledge, and commitment to quality. It represents the standard of education, experience, and ethics that the discipline requires. Obtaining this certification will demonstrate that you can successfully manage risk and create value for your organization. RIMS-CRMP holds official accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under ISO/IEC 17024:2012, which makes it the only risk management certification in the world to hold accredited status. In order to be eligible, candidates are required to have a bachelor’s degree (or nearly completed bachelor’s degree) and experience or, if they do not have a bachelor’s degree, they are required to have at least seven years of risk management experience. 
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) Certification. The PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) highlights your ability to identify and assess project risks, mitigate threats and capitalize on opportunities. The PMI-RMP sets you apart from other professionals and validates your ability to enhance and protect the needs of your organization. Prerequisites include a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, or the global equivalent), 36 months of project risk management experience within the last 5 years, and 40 hours of project risk management education. Another prerequisite option includes a four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or the global equivalent), 24 months of project risk management experience within the last 5 years, and 30 hours of project risk management education. 

Career path

The path to a career as a risk manager starts with a bachelor’s degree, typically in risk management, business, finance, business management, statistics, economics, or accounting. 

The next step is to gain practical experience by obtaining an entry-level position as an insurance or loss control consultant, risk analyst, accountant, auditor, financial analyst, or similar job. Employers usually seek risk managers who have at least five years of experience working in a field related to risk management. You can also gain experience through internships while obtaining your degree. 

Pursuing certification is a great way to boost your career. Certification is not mandatory for this career, but some employers may require it. Certification helps demonstrate proficiency and dedication to the discipline. These programs also help further your education and expertise in your field. 

Some risk management positions may require licensure which will require candidates to complete a training course and pass a state exam. By earning a master’s degree, you can take your career to senior roles and attain a top-level position as a risk manager.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-3031

2020 Employment681,700
Projected Employment in 2030799,900
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 17% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift118,200 increase

A risk manager is a type of financial manager. The employment of financial managers is projected to grow 17% from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Many of these employment openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force due to retirement. Services provided by financial managers such as planning, directing, and coordinating investments are likely to stay in demand as the economy grows. In addition, several specialties within financial management, particularly cash management and risk management, are expected to be in high demand over the decade. 

As globalization continues, companies are likely to accumulate more cash on their balance sheets, particularly amongst those with operations in foreign countries. Companies will need expertise in managing cash, which will lead to a demand for financial managers. There has been an increased emphasis on risk management within the financial industry, and this trend is expected to continue. Banking institutions are expected to emphasize stability and managing risk over profits. This emphasis is expected to lead to employment growth for risk managers.