5 Skills You Need To Be a Successful Risk Manager

By Daniella Rand

The business of risk management is not for the faint of heart. It requires an unwavering commitment to a host of best practices developed over the course of many years, along with a number of personal and professional traits rarely found in the same individual.

The good news, for aspiring risk management professionals: Many of these skills and competencies can be acquired or learned with sustained practice. Let’s take a look at five that you may not even know you have — or, at the very least, simply haven’t had much of an occasion to exercise in your current role.


1. An Uncanny Eye for Detail

Risk management demands attention to detail. Not run-of-the-mill attention to detail of the sort expected in most white-collar professional settings, but an uncanny, uncompromising eye that catches what others miss. If you’re routinely lauded for your unusual ability to spot what’s just slightly out of place, you may possess this ability already.

2. An Above-Average Ability to Handle Pressure and Stress

How well do you work under pressure? If you thrive in a high-stakes environment with little room for error, you’re likely doing quite well on this measure. Because they’re often required to perform at their best when the situation is headed south, successful risk managers need to be able to think on their feet when others can’t.

3. A Strong Grasp of Financial Concepts and Risk

Risk management and a strong grasp of finance go hand in hand. Successful risk managers need to understand what constitutes acceptable levels of financial risk in a given situation, keeping in mind that “acceptable levels” vary widely by scenario. 

4. The Ability to Think Logically (Including Under Pressure)

Logical thinking is critical in the risk management business. There’s plenty of room for creative solutions here, to be sure, but it’s important to have a logic-driven bearing that prioritizes fact over feeling and empirical evidence over gut instinct. 

5. Strong Presentation Skills (And a Knack for Communication)

If and when you uncover a significant operational threat that must be addressed in short order, you’ll need to rely on your superior presentation skills to make the case to your superiors, colleagues, or clients. The same goes for less urgent threats, as well. The better your communication skills, the better you’ll perform as a risk manager.

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Successful Risk Manager?

If you have these five important attributes, you can say without irony that you’re well suited to be a successful risk manager.

Does that mean you will find success as a risk manager? Not necessarily. Like any demanding profession, the risk management business is fraught with, well, risk. It requires the sort of dedication and commitment that many simply don’t possess. And, for better or worse, successful risk managers very often find themselves in the right place at the right time. Luck does play a role in this and every career.

Those caveats aside, aspiring risk management professionals who possess the building blocks described here would do well to actually give it a go in this business. For those with talent and drive, there’s plenty of room for growth — and a mark waiting to be made.