It has been more than 10 years since Accenture’s first global risk study. Our first report focused on the role of risk management in managing a financial crisis; we have since explored how the risk function has evolved to become more integrated, more technology savvy, and increasingly focused on adding value and creating differentiation for businesses.

72 percent of the risk executives we surveyed said complex, interconnected new risks are emerging at a more rapid pace than ever before.

In our study’s most recent edition, we explore how the risk function is adapting to the ever-increasing pace and volume of change outside the organization. We surveyed 683 risk executives in banking, capital markets and insurance, finding them hard at work honing their capabilities, ramping up their use of sophisticated analytical technologies, and drawing on more and more data sources to keep up with the rapidly evolving landscape.

Our respondents recognize they cannot control the risk environment. However, they have increasingly drawn a clear line between what they can and cannot influence and have focused their efforts on what is within their sphere of control. This focus is critical in an environment where external risks are more complex and increasingly connected, with new threats emerging all the time.

Spotting unintended consequences from new technologies

In fact, 72 percent of the risk executives we surveyed said complex, interconnected new risks are emerging at a more rapid pace than ever before. As their businesses experiment with new digital technologies, risk managers are seeking to improve their ability to spot and assess potential unintended consequences.

For example, only 11 percent of risk managers surveyed describe themselves as fully capable of assessing the risks associating with adopting artificial intelligence (AI). And, while nearly all risk functions have started to use robotic process automation (RPA) to automate routine tasks, just 10 percent of respondents said they apply machine learning to their datasets. (Those that have deployed machine learning feel much more confident that they have prepared their business for volatile future scenarios.)

Risk managers plan to draw on a much wider range of data sources over the next two years to manage new and emerging threats. For example, while just 35 percent of respondents use social media data today, 52 percent expect to be using it in two years’ time.

Can more collaboration offer greater risk resilience?

We also found the risk function has improved its collaboration with the finance function, but not enough. According to the study, those collaborating most closely report greater resilience to strategic risk.

Risk managers are encouraged to improve collaboration across the enterprise—not just the finance function—to add value and factor risk into major business decisions effectively. So, while risk functions have made considerable progress in many areas since our last report two years ago, the fast-moving landscape is raising the bar. It is time to accelerate or be left behind.

Risk managers acknowledge that they need to adjust—and they are up for the challenge. In this series, we will look at the main findings from our study, which are all relevant to businesses across the financial services sector.

See the 2019 Global Risk Management Study report for complete details.

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