WE HAVE TO BUILD THE CHIEF RISK OFFICER/RISK MANAGER PROFESSION FROM SCRATCH
In 2009, the POLRISK Risk Management Association board asked its office assistant to contact 253 companies by phone, including 77 percent associated with the Polish Association of Listed Companies on the Warsaw Stock Exchange (WSE), to inquire about whether they had a risk manager who potentially could join the association. We wanted to diagnose the awareness and needs related to risk management in Poland, primarily among listed companies on the WSE. The results of these phone interviews are as follows. Thirty-three (13 percent) of the companies did not want any further contact. The main reasons were that they were not interested because they did not have risk managers, they were not interested at all, they received from their head office a strategy already written and ready to implement ("We receive strategy out of the box"), they were just tired of receiving various training offers, and the like. In a few cases it was mentioned that "Risk management is outsourced." The most interesting example from a global company was: "Risk management is at the discretion of the head office." Only 11 companies out of 253 (4.3 percent) declared potential interest in joining the POLRISK Risk Management Association.
This is perhaps not fully representative research on the perception of risk management in Poland, but it shows, together with other surveys, that we have to build the risk manager profession in Poland from scratch. Of course, this conclusion does not apply to financial risk managers holding the PRM (Professional Risk Manager – Professional Risk Managers' International Association [PRMIA]) designation or the FRM (Financial Risk Manager – Global Association of Risk Professionals [GARP]) designation. More than 1,000 people in the financial industry are similarly certified in Poland.
After the intensive telephone interviews, we changed the strategy of increasing the POLRISK membership. POLRISK, after two years of pilot risk management courses, confirmed that there was an interest in risk management professional development, and now it is updating the program scope of knowledge necessary for risk managers and chief risk officers, who will be expected to present a holistic big picture of the company's risks. Fortunately, we will also join with the FERMA certification of risk managers projects like the other European associations that are members of FERMA.
When we showed one example of a mature ERM implementation in North America, one of the Polish managers told us that ERM promoted by middle-level managers looks like "a cry for help" for those who would like to be recognized at the board level. Many risk management group discussions on LinkedIn only confirm that statement. This is the most radical but real opinion on ERM we have ever heard. Again, this was a lesson for us; we, as a community, have to be well prepared to know what specifics strictly belong to ERM and how it can be integrated with strategic and value-based management.