Not just survive, but thrive, through risk management


Derek Smith

By Derek Smith

The ability to identify and manage risks effectively is often the difference between a company thriving and simply surviving in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. The Central Bank of The Bahamas, in its enterprise risk management guidance notes, says: “An effective risk management framework that is proportionate with the size, complexity, risks and business model of an SFI’s (supervised financial institution) operations must be in place to help ensure that risks are well managed within the SFI’s risk appetite, and that the necessary systems and controls are in place to achieve the intended results.”

A robust risk assessment process is a core aspect of this capability. In this article, I will delve into the key principles of risk assessment, uncover its myriad benefits and explore the untapped opportunities it presents for businesses.

Key principles of a risk assessment

Governance: The risk assessment process must be clearly established and approved by the Board. This demonstrates the company’s commitment. It clearly articulates ownership of the risk assessment process. Appropriate notification and escalation channels to the Board and senior management should be documented, leading to higher quality data and accountability. Moreover, it fosters the engagement of the requisite resources in the risk assessment process.

Comprehensiveness: Effective risk assessment is all-encompassing. Every aspect of the company is scrutinised - from finance to operations, and to reputation and compliance. In addition to capturing obvious risks, comprehensive approaches identify more obscure risks, giving a holistic perspective on potential threats.

Customisation: Each company is unique, with specific threats varying by industry, geography and corporate culture. Risk assessments must be tailored to the specific business context to identify genuine threats and opportunities, making the results significantly more actionable.

Communication: Effective risk management is deeply collaborative. Corporate communication needs to be clear at all levels. To mitigate these risks, stakeholders must understand what the risks are, how they could impact the company, and their roles.

Benefits of strategic risk assessment

Enhanced decision-making: Having a clear understanding of risks can assist businesses in making more informed decisions, and balancing risk and reward. As a result, resources can be allocated more efficiently, and strategic planning can be improved.

Increased agility: Managing unexpected changes can be made easier if companies anticipate potential issues in advance. Agile companies can adapt and seize opportunities faster than their competitors, giving them a competitive edge.

Cost Efficiency: Early risk identification can prevent expensive setbacks. Companies that invest in proactive measures can save resources in the long run, reducing the costs of crisis management.

Opportunities unlocked through a risk assessment

There are many opportunities for identifying market gaps, emerging trends and innovative ideas. For instance, companies may discover new advances while assessing technology-related risks that could revolutionise their product line or operation. Moreover, because risk assessments begin and end with specific objectives, it can provide a risk-adjustment return to the company. Risk assessment helpd quantify decision-making that could lead to quick wins and longer-term improvement opportunities.

In short, consider your company’s current risk management strategies. Does their strength, consistency and responsiveness match the complexity of today’s business environment? I invite you to re-evaluate your risk assessment processes. Make risk a reward by seizing the opportunity. By adopting a strategic approach to risk assessment, businesses not only protect themselves against potential threats but also position themselves to capture new growth avenues.

• NB: About Derek Smith Derek Smith Jnr has been a governance, risk and compliance professional for more than 20 years with leadership, innovation and mentorship record. He is the author of ‘The Compliance Blueprint’. Mr Smith is a certified anti-money laundering specialist (CAMS) and the assistant vice-president, compliance and money laundering reporting officer for CG Atlantic’s family of companies (member of Coralisle Group) for The Bahamas, St Vincent & The Grenadines, St Lucia and Curaçao.


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