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Demand for risk management expertise is high, and gender bias is shifting

01 / 09 / 2015
Demand for risk management expertise is high...From mid-2012 onwards there has been a huge spike in the number of new vacancies for risk management professionals. The combination of rising levels of employment and confidence in the UK's economic recovery helped to fuel this impressive growth, which saw the number of new vacancies peak at more than 120 at the end of 2014.

Of course, growth on this scale cannot continue unabated, and Barclay Simpson's 2015 Risk Management Interim Report shows that while demand remains high, the number of vacancies being created has indeed begun to stabilise. 

However, this isn't to say that the environment for risk managers seeking new opportunities has become less attractive overnight – in many ways, it is more positive than ever.

More candidates are being placed

While the number of actual vacancies has remained relatively constant over the past three years, a key difference is that clients are now increasingly likely to make job offers to candidates. 

Matt Brown, Divisional Director for Risk at Barclay Simpson, explains: "Whereas in 2013, 2014 and 2015 we have booked hundreds of risk management vacancies, last year the rate of placements increased substantially and has carried through into 2015. 

"In 2013 whilst the number of vacancies was high, internal mobility gave some recruitment processes the feeling of a beauty parade, and only the most exceptional candidates would succeed against more commercially viable internal candidates. Now it is a much better market for the risk manager looking for a new job."

So is now a good time to look for a new job? Matt's response is unequivocal: "Absolutely. This is a great time for a risk manager to look: there are plenty of options, demand outstrips supply, and barring a catastrophic event that impacts the global economy that demand is going to continue."

High-demand areas in risk management recruitment

The landscape for risk managers considering a change of employer is broadly very positive, although demand is higher in some areas than others. 

For Barclay Simpson, the strongest areas within risk management fall within banking – an unsurprising trend, given that the banking sector employs more risk managers than any other. 

"Within that we're seeing a very healthy, very steady market for the operational risk manager," Matt explains. 

"Operational risk managers are in demand not just in operational risk departments, but also their skill set is very much in demand in what is now broadly called the first line of defence, and in some areas of compliance as well. Operational risk managers have been migrating into Financial Crime and Fraud teams for some time, where the operational risk managers experience of building risk frameworks has proved useful."

Credit risk is another area that has seen strong demand at the start of 2015. With banks really starting to lend money again, credit risk teams have been highly active. A lot of interest has been shown in data analytics-related work, whether in retail credit or corporate, where people with statistics experience are in high demand across the board.

Demand has also been high in the area of risk change. "Regulatory-driven change within risk functions means that they have to report better, they have be to better equipped to provide their own self-certification," says Matt. "There are larger teams of risk change managers out there doing that work in order to get the various firms that they work for up to the required standard."

Signs of a shifting gender balance in risk management

One of the most interesting findings from the latest interim report is an indication that more women are entering the traditionally male-dominated risk management market. A broadly similar number of male and female respondents to our survey said they have worked in risk management for less than two years, indicating that the gender balance could be far more even in years to come.

Certain areas of risk management are leading the way in this respect. Operational risk, for instance, is a very balanced market from Barclay Simpson's perspective, with a placement ratio of around 50:50.

"Traditionally, the ratio of men to women has been higher, but while I wouldn't say it's now 50:50 across all areas, it's certainly improving," says Matt.ADNFCR-1684-ID-801799210-ADNFCR