Posted by: kenwbudd | December 2, 2009

Thinking Cautiously about Risk Appetite

How does the current trend for Caution in Risk Management affect business potential?

Because well-considered risk taking is critical to business growth and success, not just for individual companies but also to enable or entitle the expansion of a properly functioning economy.

Food for Thought
Business-to-business lending and borrowing always involves a high degree of risk. Therefore, curtailing that appetite for risk can directly hobble entrepreneurship, deprive deserving businesses of capital, and reinforce deflation.

Take a Positive Stance
Moreover, for any business, the assessment of risk should not dwell on the potentially damaging prospects but also on the opportunities; potential rewards and gains. If you take an overly cautious stance this is more difficult to do or can create a restrictive position.

Although the need for risk taking is recognised by both businesspeople and economists, a lot of this is based on theoretical lip service and rhetoric, rather than real positive and optimistic determinations and outlooks.

Complexity
The complexity of risks in the global economy severely tests many companies, both in their judgment about how much risk to take and in their controls for tracking and managing it. What doesn’t help the situation in any way are sponsors and senior management teams who are not comfortable or practiced at discussing risk in the context of strategic decision making or in articulating those expectations to the organisation.

Positive Solution
To overcome the problem of over cautious risk taking, sponsors, senior managers and companies needs a fresh, more rigorous definition of the appropriate level of risk the organisation can accept or endure. The organisation needs to stress its structure, confirm its strengths and articulate its risk appetite.

Set the Appetite
In addition to asking how much risk to avoid and how much to accept, we need to prepare for the possible downside. Leaders should be setting a better example, by defining how much risk they want and establishing how much capital they are willing to stake against it.

Result Focus
Clearly this is only part of the algorithm, because the result of all this effort is to achieve as much potential and capital gain. The whole organisation should be involved and open to this discussion on risk appetite.

Trading on the edge
Traders and deal makers are at the sharp end of it. They, of all people need to fully understand the risk appetite of the company and the part that their individual deals might have in the corporate-wide performance, because they are the ones that have to implement it effectively.
Unshackle and empower your people, by giving them a clear framework, an appetite for risk and a plan for success.
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