IT risk: The function of the future
10 December 2018
In late September, as dozens of senior FS IT risk professionals gathered for our annual conference, it suddenly struck me that two or three years ago, a large number of their jobs didn’t exist. It’s a testament to how seriously FS organisations are taking IT risk that these jobs are now seen as indispensable.
IT risk has developed in just a few years to one of the most important functions in an FS business. But what will it look like in five or 10 years’ time? One of the major talking points of this year’s conference was rapidly developing technology and its likely impact on IT risk management. But will artificial intelligence and other innovation radically change the profile of the IT risk management workforce too?
While some level of automation is becoming commonplace in the back office, the general consensus is that full automation, if even ultimately realistic, is many years away. For now, the IT risk workforce is growing; in fact IT risk functions everywhere are struggling to find and retain good candidates. It’s difficult to persuade people to join IT risk, and easy to lose them. The skills and experience developed within IT risk are enormously valuable across the business – and that means that IT risk professionals are in high demand. ‘We lose a lot of people to the business,’ said one – a comment that really struck a chord in the room.
IT risk is an attractive career option; it’s a job that brings a lot of exposure to the rest of the business and in terms of fulfilment, you can’t deny the contribution that IT risk professionals make on a daily basis. But it’s clear that risk functions are struggling to attract the right spectrum of skills, and particularly people with a combination of business skills and expertise around emerging technology.
This diversity of skills is essential for effective risk management. One speaker discussed data science teams as an example – explaining how risk management is enhanced if the academic, statistical approach of data scientists is complemented with the more rigorous quality assurance perspective of software engineers.
It’s clear that IT risk is looking for and developing people with excellent technical skills, good business knowledge and experience, and strong communication skills – and that these are also just the type of worker that the rest of the organisation wants and needs. In other words, the IT risk function is the best possible incubator for well-rounded professionals – and that’s the best possible selling point for attracting young people into the function. IT risk is a great place to start a career, and selling that fact will help to attract a steady stream of good candidates into the function. It’s a win-win for everyone.