RiskMinds Chair: The changing world of risk

30 November 2018

I am looking forward to the 2018 RiskMinds International Conference. With so much change and uncertainty in the world, it feels like the perfect time to come together and explore what’s happening in our industry and what the future might hold. As the leader of PwC’s UK Financial Services Risk and Regulation (FSRR) practice, I have been having conversations with leaders in Financial Services across the last twelve months to understand their current pain points and future priorities. I’m looking forward to sharing these insights (as well as gaining new ones!) in my role as Chair of the CRO Forum.  

The world of Financial Services is changing rapidly and many Risk leaders that I speak to find that they are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. New products and ways of interacting with customers - not to mention a changing macro risk environment, increased competition, technological advances and higher customer expectations - mean that Risk and Compliance functions are under increasing pressure to transform the way they deliver risk management services. Operational effectiveness is also a key consideration: Risk functions had in the past been largely protected from cost-cutting measures, but over the last twelve months we have seen an increased pressure on Risk functions to be more efficient and align with organisation-wide cost reduction targets.

While this change can be daunting, there’s a silver lining: this is a significant opportunity for Risk and Compliance functions to define their role in the business. Technological change for example will allow Risk functions to focus on value-add activities as opposed to manual activities like data processing. We are now seeing financial firms seeking to position Risk as a value-add, strategic partner to the business and exploring enabling levers such as emerging technology, data automation and workforce planning strategies to deliver on this. The emergence of new risks such as cyber risk and operational resilience means that the Risk function needs to be central to business strategy-setting and decision-making.

I have worked in Financial Services for a number of years now and am excited by the current pace of change. I’m a Conduct specialist by background, focusing on governance, accountability and culture. Although by trade I work in risk management, I like to push my own risk limits in my spare time. Most recently I trekked to the summit of Mera Peak in Nepal in aid of Cancer Research. I’m informed by a (more or less) reliable source that a sizeable proportion of risk managers are also mountain climbers - perhaps the stereotype of a prim and proper risk manager isn’t so true after all!

The Financial Services industry is a dynamic and exciting one to be a part of and Risk needs to be driving change at the heart of it. I look forward to meeting many of you next week.

Sarah Isted

Sarah Isted | Partner, UK Financial Services Risk and Regulation leader
Profile | Email | +44 (0)7834 251 939

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