What Skills And Attributes Do You Need To Become A Risk Analyst?

No business is risk-free and as we traverse a highly technical and ever-evolving working landscape, the number of areas where problems, perhaps even crises, may occur are increasing. 

For example, as the world switched to a remote working model almost overnight due to the coronavirus pandemic, firms of all shapes and sizes had to rethink their security protocols. This opened them up to cyber security issues and an increased risk of breaches and hacks.

Indeed, between February and May 2020 more than half a million people globally were affected by breaches whereby personal data was stolen and sold on the dark web. Because of this increased prominence placed on security, finances and risk, companies ramped up demand for specialists who could oversee and manage the levels of risk, explaining with clarity to stakeholders where changes could be made to ensure the company remains impenetrable.  

However, this increased demand is currently going too quickly. The number of available candidates simply doesn’t tee up with the number of roles available. But, with an entry-level salary of £38,000 in London, Risk Analysis is becoming a very attractive option for many school leavers and students. But what qualifications, skills and attributes does a good Risk Analyst need to succeed?

Qualifications for risk analytics candidates

Currently, the Risk Analytics industry is weighted towards those with an educated background. This will, of course, depend on the individual needs of the employer but generally, companies are looking for those with a university degree. Subjects which showcase strong numerical skills, such as Maths, are key. However, this dependence on degrees means that it can feel like doors are closed to you before you’ve even started if university isn’t a route you’d like to take.

There is a lot of work to be done in this space and this bias towards education may be preventing diversification in the risk workforce. As university costs are combined with interest rates, degrees will simply not be affordable to a huge chunk of society. If this is not recognised within the sector and policies put in place to open the recruitment process, then organisations risk missing out on top-level talent. 

Thankfully, many companies are beginning to see that this elitist hiring process isn’t a viable, nor fair, option and are opting to open their doors to alternative pathways into the career. Apprenticeships, work experience and training contracts are being seen more regularly within the sector as a way to tackle the current lack of diversity within the sector.  

Attributes outside of expertise

Of course, technical and problem-solving skills take precedence in what employers are looking for in risk analytics candidates. But being a bright, problem-solver able to use mass quantities of data to analyse trends and come up with recommendations based on these, are ultimately the skills needed to solve problems for the business. Something that a degree will not necessarily give you. The other side is online coding courses and showcasing a passion for learning in your own time. Employers value an individual who can showcase high levels of initiative, curiosity, and motivation – all of which enable them to stay on top of trends.   

Communication is key

Risk Analysis, as with any area of Data & Analytics, is fraught with jargon and acronyms. It is also, stereotypically, a very introverted role. However, as companies put increased weight on the importance of this role, the more necessary it will be for whole teams to understand the findings and outcomes that risk analytics teams come by. The key differentiator between candidates is communication skills.

The nature of the work means that you are often discussing quite complex matters, and to be able to communicate that in a non-technical way to other team members is what sets people apart. But also, being able to do so in a way that influences your audience: you may be speaking to a chief financial officer or maybe an external client, who needs to understand the implications of your analysis so that they can choose the correct action going forwards. 

The world has changed immensely over the past couple of years, and it will continue to rapidly evolve. The roles which companies require will inevitably change just as quickly, and the need for risk analysts shows no signs of slowing.

If you’re interested in Risk Analytics, Harnham can help. Take a look at our latest Risk Analytics jobs or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

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