How To Get Ahead In Risk Analytics

Author: Stian Iversen
Posting date: 6/26/2019 3:36 PM
In the world of Risk Management, top talent is always in high demand. Despite this, those who specialise in area know that progression can be difficult and, according to our 2019 Salary Survey, is the slowest in the industry. So, how can you differentiate yourself from the competition, and what steps can you take to make yourself the ideal candidate for that promotion or new job you’ve been hunting? 

Whether you are looking to move somewhere new, or trying to climb the ladder in your current company, here are some ways that you can make sure you stand out. 

Stay one step ahead in tech


Traditionally, the Risk Analytics tech stack has comprised of SAS, SQL and VBA. SAS and SQL remain very much present, but we are also seeing a clear increase in the use of Open Source programming languages, such as R and Python. Unsurprisingly, a lot of Risk Modellers and Analysts are now spending their time in developing their skills in these languages. One might argue that if you know one language, there’s not too much work required to upskill in another when you take on a new role, but this isn’t necessarily true. By being proactive and evolving your skillset in your current position, your CV will have a much bigger impact when it lands on a Hiring Manager’s desk. 

Over the past few years, we’ve also seen the arrival of Machine Learning and AI in the world of Risk. Whilst many businesses are still slow to embrace these technologies, do not be surprised to see them make a big impact over the next couple of years. Risk Analytics are catching up to the rest of the industry in regards to technology, and having the knowledge and skillsets required in these areas before they take off will only enhance you profile. 

Business-driven Data 


In the world of Risk Analytics, it is easy to think that if you have the right programming and analytical skills in the right tools, you’ve all got all you need. You might be off to a really good start, but there’s more to it than that. It about having the balance. 

Yes, being data-driven and understanding complex model development is crucial to becoming a good performer in this industry but, what truly separates the good from the great, is business acumen. The ability to understand both what your analytics and models do, and how they impact the overall business is now at the top of most Hiring Manager’s lists. 

A person with good quantitative skills will always see something that can be improved, but they also need to know when to stop and be happy with the result. The key to getting this right lies in their understanding of the business and the ability to answer questions like “If I sit and work on this for 8 more hours, will the real-world difference be worth that amount of time and resource?”. By viewing things through the prism of cost vs reward, and understanding that balance, you can demonstrate that your value to a business goes beyond your analytical skills. 

React, adapt and attract


In this world there are a few things we can take for a certainty; the sky is blue, it will rain on your day off, and there will always be new regulations for financial institutions. Because of the certainty of change, a key thing employers look for in candidates is the ability to react quickly and make changes as soon as they are needed. Fast growing companies such as Klarna, tink and iZettle may seem like fairy-tale success stories, but the real edge they have is their adaptability and agile culture. Whereas some traditional corporations and banks have lengthy and complicated processes required before they adapt to new regulations, these new companies embrace their agility and get things done. 

The ability to be agile and adaptable is, therefore, something that a lot of businesses are starting to realise is key. Therefore, if you’re looking to get ahead, you should try to evolve these qualities in your working ways. If you are looking for something new, look to prove you are driven and do not fear change. If you can demonstrate that you are able to work with a business-oriented mindset and embrace change, you’ll stand out as a key player in your team. 

Specialist vs Generalist 


With the world of Risk Management offering a number of opportunities to become very specialised in very niche areas, it’s worth considering whether this approach is right for you. There are some definite pros, for example, if you are the best developer of PD models for non-retail, you will be highly sought after for roles in this area. Plus, high demand, and a shortage of skillsets means that you will be in a good position to seek a high salary and lots of benefits. However, this does mean that you are likely to only have the opportunity to work in this area for the foreseeable future and, for some, this can become repetitive and not provide enough of a challenge. Additionally, if you were ever were to apply to work in a new area because of this, you would likely find yourself overpriced and needing to take a step down in seniority. 

The alternative, therefore, is to become more of a generalist, with a broader, but less advanced skillset. Think being able to play every instrument, but only knowing one song. There are definitely some clear benefits with this approach, not least the ability to work on a diverse set of projects, gain an excellent understanding of how Risk Management affects a business on every level, and be able to slot into a number of roles easily. You will also gain a better idea of which areas of Risk that you like, and which parts you dislike. Whilst many analysts begin as generalists before looking to specialise when they get promoted, they often find that their knowledge will not be as deep as their specialist counterparts. Therefore, it is likely they will have to take a step-down or make a sideways move before they can achieve that promotion. 

There is no right or wrong when it comes to the specialist vs generalist argument. However, for those looking for faster progression early-on, a generalist approach may be better suited despite the fact that you may need to change approach before reaching the most senior levels. 

Whilst demand will always be high for the best candidates, competition for promotions and senior roles in Risk Analytics remains fierce. Therefore, by proactively thinking about the ways that you work, how effective you are, your business focus, and what your ambitions are, you should be able to get the most out of your career.  

If you’re looking to get ahead in Risk Analytics, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities, or get in touch to see if we can help you take that next step. 

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