December 2023

Beyond technical expertise: the importance of soft skills in hiring Risk Management professionals

What separates a competent risk professional and one who’s truly excelling in their role? Beyond technical expertise: the importance of soft skills in hiring Risk Management professionals

In the highly specialised field of risk management and mitigation, technical/hard skills and experience have always been highly valued. But did you know we’re seeing an increasing emphasis on soft skills in this field? Yes! These intangible, interpersonal attributes are now often the distinguishing factor between a competent risk professional and one who’s truly excelling in their role. Which would you rather be? And which would you rather have as part of your team?

A massive 91% of talent professionals agree that soft skills are very important to the future of recruitment and HR. And City & Guilds CEO, Chris Jones, said, “Unfortunately, some people believe that soft skills aren’t that important. However, almost every employer I’ve ever talked to about this disagrees. In a world where job roles are changing rapidly, soft skills will be one of the few constants…”

Here we’ll discuss why soft skills are now just as important as technical skills for risk professionals and those hiring them, and which soft skills are most in demand. Read on to learn more.

The increasing importance of soft skills

While hard skills (like compliance knowledge, risk analysis capabilities, and familiarity with risk-related tech) are fundamental in risk roles, soft skills are gaining more and more prominence. They may be unquantifiable professional attributes, but they’re key in creating supportive, sustainable, inclusive, and effective workplaces. That’s why employers are placing more and more emphasis on these skills.

Writer Charles Hugh Smith wrote an article about how the world of work has changed, and stated, “The only security that is attainable in fast-changing environments is the security offered by broad-based skillsets, great adaptability, a voracious appetite for new learning, and a keenly developed set of “soft skills”: communication, collaboration, self-management, etc.”

Soft skills are often associated with emotional intelligence. Importantly, they can greatly influence how an individual interacts with their team, communicates with stakeholders, and makes critical decisions. Ultimately, in the world of risk and compliance, these soft skills will play a crucial role in helping professionals to navigate complex situations.

 

Key soft skills for risk professionals

So, what are some of the soft skills employers are looking for within their risk teams? Let’s take a look at some of the traits that are most in-demand.

 

(1) Communication

A massive 86% of workers blame company failures on poor communication. That’s why effective communication is a cornerstone skill in lots of professions, but particularly risk management.

It's no longer enough for risk professionals to understand complex risk assessments; they’ve got to be able to clearly express these assessments to various stakeholders too - from team members to executives and clients.

This requires not only clarity and precision, but also the ability to adapt communication styles for different audiences. And alongside this, the best communicators can listen too - another crucial skill in understanding the needs and concerns of others. It’s about two-way communication that’s a vital part of the process in building trust and mutual respect.

 

(2) Leadership qualities

Leadership’s another essential soft skill for risk professionals. This involves the ability to guide and motivate a team, make strategic decisions, and effectively manage resources. A good leader also creates a positive work environment that encourages collaboration and innovation.

In the context of risk management, leadership also involves creating a risk-aware culture across an organisation. And this requires the ability to inspire others and lead by example, demonstrating a proactive approach to identifying and mitigating risks.

Between 2019 and 2020, Forbes noted that skills like leadership and management became much higher on the agenda for organisations. In fact, they reported how stats jumped by 10% (from 40% to 50%).

 

(3) Analytical abilities

Risk management is fundamentally about identifying and mitigating potential threats. And this requires strong analytical abilities – basically, the capacity to assess complex information, identify patterns and trends, and make informed decisions.

While this may seem like a hard skill, it's also a soft skill. Why? Well, it involves critical thinking and problem-solving. It's not just about understanding the data; it's about interpreting it in a meaningful way that can inform strategic decisions and risk mitigation strategies.

 

(4) Relationship management

Relationship management is a crucial soft skill for risk professionals. It involves building and maintaining strong relationships with clients, stakeholders, and team members. Good relationship management is not only about establishing connections but also understanding the needs, concerns, and objectives of others. And that’s particularly important in risk management, where the professional has to work closely with various parties to identify and mitigate risks.

 

(5) Negotiation

Negotiation is another vital soft skill for risk professionals. It’s the ability to reach a mutual agreement or compromise by communicating effectively with all parties involved. In the context of risk management, negotiation skills can be used to manage conflicts, resolve issues, and agree on risk mitigation strategies.

Harvard Business Review suggests that negotiation skills are critical for career advancement. According to studies, those who can effectively negotiate are more likely to succeed professionally and earn higher salaries.

Also, a survey by LinkedIn found that negotiation was one of the top soft skills employers looked for in 2020.

 

(6) Teamwork, collaboration and emotional intelligence

In addition to the above, we’re noticing some other soft skills that are also priorities in risk management teams. These include teamwork, collaboration, and emotional intelligence.

While we could cover these individually, we’ve merged them into one point because they go hand-in-hand. All are crucial skills that can significantly impact your success as a risk professional, and when combined, result in the ability to effectively understand and manage yours and others’ emotions. You’ll forge better interpersonal relationships, be better equipped to empathise with others, manage stress effectively, and maintain a positive attitude in challenging situations – all of which can greatly contribute to your effectiveness as a risk professional.

 

While hard skills are still always going to be crucial in risk management, soft skills play an equally important role. They enable risk professionals to effectively communicate complex information, lead teams, make strategic decisions, and navigate the ever-changing landscape of risk.

And that’s why employers looking to hire risk professionals are now considering both even more. The ability to balance both sets of skills is what will truly set apart successful risk professionals. In an increasingly complex world of risk, it's these soft skills that will help risk professionals – and the organisations they're part of – to truly excel.

Do you have both the technical and soft skills to shine in a new risk role? Check out our current vacancies or upload your CV below.

Or, if you’re looking to strengthen your risk/compliance team with the very best professionals, get in touch to see how we could help you find talent with the blend of technical and soft skills you need.

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