Forward-facing financials and focus

What keeps you awake at night as a risk manager? For many, it may be demonstrating to the C-suite the value and importance you bring to your organization. This can be a challenging task for all departments, but it sometimes seems like risk management is one area that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves unless a true risk scenario calls upon its expertise when something goes wrong.

One of the most valuable skills a risk manager can have is the ability to develop and articulate a forward-thinking plan to C-suite executives. I believe there are three important things you should focus on to educate your C-suite. They are:

  • Identify the types of information C-suite executives are looking for risk management to provide
  • Compare and contrast effective vs. ineffective means of information sharing
  • Explore ways risk management can help support and expand business operations 

On Tuesday, April 17 during the upcoming RIMS Annual Conference, I hope you will join me, along with David Arick, ARM, Assistant Treasurer, Global Risk Management of International Paper Company, as we take an in-depth look at these principles and explore how you can confidently sit down with leadership and solidify risk management’s position at the table. Our session will share high-level financial expectations, identify effective avenues for communication, and share insightful perspectives.

What are C-suite executives looking for from risk management?

Both David and I agree that one key is to provide a data-driven, forward-looking view of risk issues as defined by your company. The role of a risk manager has evolved beyond insurance buying, claims management, compliance and safety; risk management is a complex and technical business that touches virtually every aspect of the organization. C-suite executives are looking to you for advice and strategies to achieve sustainable long-term growth. 

It is imperative that risk managers communicate with senior executives and take an active role in assessing and overseeing the company’s risk exposure to ensure it is in line with the company's strategic goals. Don’t underestimate the importance of gathering a cross-section of stakeholders in the planning and decision-making process, since each one can bring a different perspective. 

When talking with the C-suite, focus on what risk management is doing to advance the goals of the organization and measurements that demonstrate return on investment. This may entail protecting and caring for members of the workforce to ensure high levels of production, deploying a property restoration plan that gets customers back into the store after a weather-related disaster, or brand protection following what could have been a high-profile product recall. Keep risk management at the forefront of strategy and expansion discussions so, over time, it is viewed as a part of the corporate fabric and perceived to have a forward focus.

What about your company? Does this sound like the scrutiny you’re facing as you look forward to the coming years and forecast trends? We can all learn from each other by sharing best practices and techniques. Leave your thoughts and comments here and add to our discussion. Then come to our session as David and I share some of the best practices we’ve seen in our respective roles. 

Bob Peterson, Group President, National Accounts, Sedgwick

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