In South Africa, the common saying, “I will make a plan” is usually used to dismiss risk by implying that if anything happens, there will be a way out. Could this represent the way South African enterprises approach risk? To understand how South African enterprises deal with risk, one needs to look at what professional risk managers actually do, whether there are enough of them, and if organisations are heeding their advice.
According to Ruan Oberholzer, internal audit senior manager at BDO Risk Advisory, risk managers “drive the process of risk management aimed at identifying the risks/threats to the organisation in achieving its strategic goals and objectives”.
“Most organisations still do not have an appointed risk manager,” says Oberholzer. “The function of risk management is often delegated to individuals within the organisation.” He believes that this is a situation that “creates a gap as there is no single individual who takes full accountability for risk management” within such firms.
Oberholzer says a risk manager’s function is specific, and they would need “to be knowledgeable about financial and market conditions, have a risk management and/or a financial management qualification and experience together with other related qualifications such as knowledge of ISO 31000, COSO Enterprise Risk Management Framework and King IV recommendations”.
In terms of specific qualities, Oberholzer identifies the ability to be precise, analytical, and principled as being important. An individual who aspires to be successful in the role of risk manager also needs to have strong communication and negotiating skills and excellent report writing and presentations skills.
Not Enough To Meet Demand
Does the country have sufficient skills to meet this demand? According to Oberholzer, the answer is no. He attributes this to the fact that there is still a lack of recognition for the role played by these professionals. This could also be linked to the fact that many young people looking to study, still do not understand the benefits of taking up a career as an enterprise risk manager.
However, companies do need risk managers – and the number of advertisements indicating this on employment portals is a testimony to this demand – and according to Oberholzer, those “organisations that understand the importance of risk management, and that have implemented an enterprise risk management process mostly make full use of their risk managers”.