Traits to Look for in Financial Risk Managers

April 15th, 2014

If you’re recruiting for a risk manager, keep this in mind: Today’s best candidate is not your father’s frumpy, suspicious “guy from the Department of No.”

While some time-tested strengths remain true, there’s a new breed on the horizon as the ideal financial risk manager has more personality, interpersonal skills and dimensions than you may think.

What worked in the past may no longer be appropriate as your organization’s risk maturity increases. Great risk managers must possess both traditional attributes – such as analytical thinking and detail orientation skills – and modern qualities that define them more as business drivers than technicians.

Today’s Risk Manager

Recent research defining the ideal qualities of financial risk managers is based on the DISC methodology, which is widely accepted by organizations, HR professionals and consultants to assess personality types. DISC is a quadrant model that classifies individuals on two axes:

  • Proactive/reactive
  • Introvert/extrovert

Personality assessments are based on these four traits:

  • Dominance
  • Influence
  • Steadiness
  • Compliance

Recent DISC results show that 60 percent of today’s risk managers have psychometric profiles that align with the traditional characteristics of the role. They are reactive introverts. These individuals are:

  • Analytical
  • Logical
  • Natural planners
  • Detail oriented
  • Inclined to stick to facts and follow rules
  • More likely to ignore emotionally charged arguments
  • Serious
  • Responsible
  • Suspicious of others
  • Brief and to the point

The remaining 40 percent are divided into two categories:

  • Drivers (less than 10 percent): They tend to be pragmatic, focused, determined, demanding and impatient. They produce results ahead of expectations, often preferring such results to facts. They are not always reasonable and don’t always have a lot of time for details, but in their minds, the end justifies the means. They are proactive introverts.
  • Evangelists (more than 30 percent): These individuals are optimistic, diplomatic, verbose, persuasive and sometimes prone to exaggeration. While they can appear to lack gravitas, they tend to be inspiring leaders. They are proactive extroverts.

What to Look For

As you seek to hire the best risk manager for your business needs, set your sights on the candidate who:

  • Speaks the common language. Some risk management experts speak their own language, similar to specialists in finance and medicine. Learning to leave that lingo behind while communicating effectively with other departments is essential. Your risk manager must be embedded in your company’s business, be well versed in operations, and speak the same language as others within your organization.
  • Has a positive attitude and an ambitious mindset. A great risk manager truly cares about people and makes that concern evident. They are sincere about preventing risks and not wanting anyone to be injured – and this passion cascades down throughout the company. At the same time, they see limitless possibilities in themselves and others.

As noted by Jeannine Bailes, director of insurance and risk management at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, “a great risk manager is one who strives to help his or her organization – and the people in it – achieve their goals and desires, not one that gets in the way and complicates things.”

For your road map to hire a qualified financial risk manager, contact the expert recruitment team at Select Group, Inc., today.

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