BusinessDay

Risk managers charged to stay alert against emerging global digital threats

Risk managers have been charged to be well equipped and stay alert against emerging global digital threats.

This is because digital technology has become an integral part of most businesses, especially financial services businesses.

Adesola Adeduntan, managing director/CEO of First Bank of Nigeria Limited gave this charge on Thursday in his keynote address at the 2021 annual conference organised by Risk Managers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN), with the theme “risk management in a digital era held”.

Adeduntan, represented by Ini Ebong, group executive, Treasury & International Banking Group of First Bank, said risk leaders were expected to provide the required support that would enable their organisations remain resilient amid uncertainties and growing complexities within the business environment.

“Today’s risk management function must have a seat at the table – be involved in a digital transformation journey, from strategy to implementation,” said Adeduntan.

Folakemi Fatogbe, CEO/founder, The De-risking lab, noted that COVID-19 has disrupted things and there is now a digital shift. She charged risk managers present at the event to broaden their minds and increase their competences.

In his welcome address, Magnus Nnoka, RIMAN president and chief risk officer at Coronation Merchant Bank, said one of the most prominent impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic (aside from health issues) has been the acceleration of technological innovation which has driven unprecedented rise in digitisation, not only in businesses but also in private lives.

He said the world was witnessing new business models, greater level of interconnectedness, all represented in various digital channels.

Read also: RIMAN has for 20yrs led Nigeria’s risk management practices – Nnoka

“The rise in digital assets and channels consequently lead to emerging and evolving risk types, therefore, we are seeing increasing digitisation of risk

“Even as organisation seek increasing digitisation, we can readily identify few of the drawbacks on this journey, these include legacy information asset, (digital-born businesses tend to be more agile) organisational culture, data quality, dearth of requisite talent and complexity of organisational structure,” Nnoka said.

At the event which held at the Eko Hotels & Suites, other speakers stressed the need for business managers to improve their operations in a world now characterised by technology and innovation, as well as adopt proper risk management tools to avoid possible hitches.

Speaking during a panel session that focused on managing Cybersecurity Risk in a Digital Era, Adenike Odejayi senior manager & lead, Financial Services Risk & Regulations, Price Waterhouse Coopers noted that innovation was crucial for businesses development and growth. Hence, business managers will get busy with trying to keep up with the new technologies and latest innovations being adopted particularly in the season of a new normal occasioned by the pandemic.

She added that new risk would always develop with new operational methods and innovations; hence there should be models in place to serve as alleviators.

“New adoptions come with a litter of risks therefore risk managers should be proactive enough to proffer strategies to mitigate and address such risk,

Furthermore, we also need to think about responses to future risk particularly from digitalization and technology which changes consistently,” she said

Odejayi said as part of risk management activities, risk managers should also be prioritised in the decision-making process of the company because the concept of risk management is centered on possible and unexpected events as well as forecasting.

Yomi Akinyemi, associate director, Emerging Technology, Data & Analytics, KPMG-Nigeria said even in digitally-enabled innovation practices, there would still be a role for people, hence employees need to be fully fit, well trained and skilled to enable them to perform their roles well.

“Organisations must ensure the wellbeing of their employees because software and technology are being operated by humans and they function as tools to achieve goals, also as employees you need to work on building skills that will make you relevant in the organization,” he said.

Haresh Keswani, group managing director, Artee Group of Companies advised that learning from other people’s mistakes is the best way to mitigate risks instead of reinventing the wheel.

“The problem with Nigeria is that when one governor comes, he shuts down all other governors or CEOs projects or visions and reinvents the wheel because he wants to create impact, which is not bad. But reinventing is costing organisations with the most valuable asset or currency which is time,” he further said.

“And in Nigeria, we don’t have that luxury.

So, let’s understand the risks. Every risk is an opportunity and every opportunity can be embedded into results, profits and growth. So, let’s not reinvent the wheel,” Keswani emphasised

On business innovations that companies can adapt to manage risks, a spokesperson who represented Wale Tinubu said that having processes optimised is very important.

“That is basically reducing ten steps to give. And the way, you can do this is by implementing intelligence systems.

What is common for companies is to invest in Enterprise resource planning (ERP), they help you to streamline your business operations and they give you insights,” he also added.

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