Risk Management

This section includes all our risk management jobs in investment banks, asset managers, hedge funds and other financial services firms. As the financial crisis clearly demonstrated, financial services can be a very risky industry indeed. Without risk management professionals to curb employees’ enthusiasm for pushing boundaries in pursuit of big profits, whole banks can go under.

Professionals working in risk work closely with technology, operations, audit, compliance, and other control functions within a bank. Risk management jobs are generally divided into different areas, the most fundamental of which are market risk, credit risk and operational risk.

Market risk is the risk that a whole portfolio of traded financial products (for example, stocks, bonds or commodities) falls in value simultaneously because of outside events, such as rising oil prices or terrorist bombs. The four standard market risk factors are stock prices, interest rates, foreign exchange rates and commodity prices.

Market risk professionals price and model risk across different asset classes, including derivatives (forwards, futures, options, swaps). They must also communicate clearly with traders, providing the front office with risk assessments.

Credit risk is the risk of loss of principle if a borrower defaults on a loan repayment. A job in credit risk involves helping to mitigate this risk by preparing credit proposals and credit reviews, which provide the business with independent assessments about the financial standing of prospective and existing borrowers.

Credit risk roles involve collaborating with the lending team to ensure that credit proposals or extensions are approved or declined in accordance with both the firm’s internal credit policies and local regulations. Most lenders use their own credit scorecards to rank customers according to risk. Factors such as operating experience, management expertise, asset quality, and leverage and liquidity ratios are taken into account.

Operational risk is the risk that a bank will incur damage or losses due to internal factors such as systems breakdown or financial wrongdoing. A job in operational risk includes performing front-to-back reviews of business processes and report to business managers.

Roles in operational risk require conducting risk self assessments of business units, disseminating information about the firm’s risk policies, and identifying and reporting any escalation of risk issues. They also liaise with internal audit, external audit and regulators.

Many risk professionals possess qualifications designed to improve their knowledge, job opportunities, professional reputation and pay. For example, the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation from the Global Association of Risk Professionals is awarded to those who pass two examinations and have at least two years’ work experience in financial risk management.

The Professional Risk Managers’ International Association (PRM) goes to financial risk managers who pass four exams covering financial theory, financial instruments and markets, mathematical foundations of risk measurement, and other subjects.