Risk Careers: Trends and Key Skills in Demand in a Topsy-Turvy World
In a sea of volatility and unpredictability, what does the current job market look like for aspiring FRMs and early-career risk practitioners?
Friday, October 14, 2022
By Tod Ginnis
Stoked by high inflation, supply-chain breakdowns, recession fears and geopolitical conflicts, global economic uncertainty now abounds. What does this unstable environment mean for financial risk careers? Will financial institutions alter their risk hiring plans, and, for those who are searching for staff, what skills will they seek?
Robert Iommazzo, Managing Partner of the Finance and Risk Practice, SEBA Executive Search
Robert Iommazzo, Managing Partner of the Finance and Risk Practice at SEBA Executive Search, anticipates the current economic upheaval will actually create more opportunities for financial risk managers. Generally speaking, he elaborates, firms are likely to allocate more of their budget to first-line risk management activities and less to lower-priority groups, like marketing.
Assessing the Current Job Market
While risk management hiring in financial services remains strong, Iommazzo has noticed a slowdown in the technology sector. “In the recent past, many candidates speaking with us were looking at one or two additional opportunities, which often were with crypto or fintech companies,” he observes.
As risk jobs like these disappear — particularly in the hard-hit crypto sector — candidates are now becoming more focused on traditional financial services firms. However, Iommazzo also notes that the crypto firms that do survive will need to make sure they have adequate risk controls in place — and will therefore likely be looking to add risk managers in the future.
Candidates for risk jobs need to be aware that while they do have some leverage, even in a tight job market, the opportunities for remote work are dwindling. “A qualified candidate can expect competitive pay and other perks, but work-from-home flexibility is becoming less common with many firms,” he counsels.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
Regarding the background firms like to see in their financial risk hires, Iommazzo emphasizes that beyond a knowledge of risk measures, candidates “should understand the P&L drivers of the business and how they can help the business not just navigate or mitigate risk, but also make money.”
Considering that hiring today is sometimes done completely through video calls, Iommazzo also stresses the importance of communication skills when trying to secure a risk job. “Make sure you’re engaging with the interviewer (during a Zoom call) and make eye contact. And be prepared to discuss both the technical and business proficiency you can bring to the position,” he advises.
Today’s economic instability, in short, could present career growth opportunities for risk managers. In prosperous times, Iommazzo observes, risk managers may feel more pressure to “justify” their existence. But that’s not necessary in a global market rife with risks.
For aspiring FRMs who score jobs, there are more opportunities after you “get in the door.” Iommazzo encourages young risk managers to take advantage of their increased clout and “develop relationships with the business and have a commercial mindset.” This bridge-building exercise can help solidify risk management’s role as an integral part of the enterprise, even in good times, rather than the unit that hamstrings the ability of the firm to execute its business plan.
Tod Ginnis is a content specialist at GARP. He is the author of a GARP blog that is aimed at early-career risk managers and professionals aspiring to earn their Financial Risk Manager (FRM) certification.