Understanding risk: separating fact from fiction

Recently prepared for a speech to the upcoming ICSA conference “It is difficult to make predictions,” the saying goes, “especially about the future.” Originating, apparently, with a Danish politician named Karl Steincke in the 1920s, the aphorism has been attributed variously to Mark Twain, Niels Bohr, Yogi Berra, Samuel Goldwyn, even Confucius. Which only goes…

Internal audit, going concern, Jessops and the sweep of history

An earlier version of this article appears on the ACCA e-newsletter here. With multiple UK high-street retailers failing since Christmas 2012, it is reasonable to ask ‘where were the internal auditors?’ and ‘where was these firms’ management of risk’?  The rash of failures in a single sector raises inevitable questions about the focus of risk…

‘Re-rethinking’ the relationship between risk management and regulatory systems

The current context of regulation Who’d be a regulator today?  As more and more regulatory initiatives run in to trouble, it is harder than ever to get agreement domestically, let alone internationally, on what regulation in any sector should prescribe or proscribe and how it should operate. In the UK, the findings of the inquiry…

An agenda for improving corporate risk management

In the course of preparing a series of seminars we will be delivering in London this winter, we have focused on what an agenda or ‘manifesto’ for improving corporate risk performance would look like.  What should the firm do practically to improve its management of risk and uncertainty? The agenda has five items. 1. Better…

A voyage in oxymoron: a case study in ERM system selection

ERM is a broad church. Currently, it means different things to different people, depending on experience and discipline.  How far can the term be pushed before it loses meaning? In a recent chat thread, a US central government agency’s head of risk appealed for “an ERM system evaluation checklist” to be used “to compare features…

Risk: what’s changed and why it matters

With a level of wisdom for which he was rightly famous, John Keynes (famously!) concluded his General Theory with a paragraph which included the statement Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. And so it has proved to be.  Many commentators…