BPAY Group finds new way to balance innovation and risk management

- By Collaborative Media & Publishing
BPAY Group's risk management approach has been ranked in the top 1% of more than 8000 organisations by Marsh Risk Consulting.

It is recognition of how the organisation has reshaped its risk management culture to match its focus on innovation. 

"The company’s new innovation culture emphasises being bold, empowering our people, thinking customer, managing risks and seizing opportunities," says BPAY Group's Head of Corporate Governance and Risk, Francesca Dickson.

"We realised that where there is more empowerment than control, risk understanding must be increased and a 'risk-aware culture' is needed so people can make risk-aware decisions."
Risk champions embed risk alongside organisational values 
The core risk team comprises Dickson,Senior Compliance and Assurance Analyst Heidi Symon and Risk Manager Amy Yan who together oversee risk across BPAY Group. That includes the organisation's risk framework, as well as crisis management and business continuity, the group insurance program, policy framework and compliance.

Striking the right balance between managing those areas without slowing the pace of innovation was crucial.
The answer was to appoint and train risk champions in each business area, who support their managers and teams to manage risk. They exchange ideas at a risk champion forum at least quarterly. Meanwhile, a newly-formed risk specialist group brings together different teams such as security and project management to leverage their skills in monitoring enterprise risk issues.

"I've seen people become more conscious of risk to the point where sometimes they run their own workshops," Dickson says.

The strategy fits with BPAY Group's ‘Better Together’ value. The risk management message is also aligned with the organisation's ‘Minds Wide Open’ and ‘Always Step Forward’ values, inspiring people to understand and own risks.

"This is the first time I've ever worked anywhere where people know what the values are. They resonate with staff and that's one of the things that's helped us – tying the risk message to something that was already successful."

The key relationship between culture and governance has been put in the spotlight in recent years. The international Group of Thirty (G30), comprising influential financiers and academics, says getting culture and conduct right underpins the banking sector's economic and social sustainability.

"Good governance and risk management actually enables growth when you do it well," says Dickson.
Better design to improve communication 
BPAY Group is regulated differently to banks, meaning its risk framework relies on strong communication and culture rather than the threat of prudential compliance. 

"We have that freedom as a small team to come up with our own risk framework because we're not regulated in the same way as a bank, however it means we have to do a lot more influencing.”

A new reporting methodology, incorporating human-centred design (HCD) principles, was another factor that proved influential. 

The risk team, together with its risk champions, created a new online risk training induction module for staff. It used a mountain climbing metaphor to reflect the importance of risk management to achieve the organisation's big goals.

New reports generated by the risk team were issued to each business unit manager and risk champion, highlighting any required actions. The reports were based on BPAY Group’s risk gate-opener measure from the company balanced scorecard, increasing the report's importance and organisational alignment.
Approach to risk management pays off 
Marsh Risk Consulting provides an independent assessment each year of how organisations such as BPAY Group manage risk.

In 2019, BPAY Group posted its highest ever total score, placing it the top 1% of organisations benchmarked by Marsh. It included assessments of its risk management attitude, understanding, framework, treatments and controls.

Dickson says the organisation’s internal surveys show that staff are more risk aware while the role of risk champions and better visibility of reports mean risk is identified and managed faster than before.

"There has also been a significant increase in requests for our involvement in initiatives."

Dickson says all organisations across the world are naturally focusing more on cyber-risk as digital technologies become more prominent.  

"I think we're just becoming more connected as everything is digital and online, while the financial system is more connected with more parties working together," she says. 

"Meanwhile, the risk discipline itself is maturing into more strategic areas rather than just compliance and operational areas."

This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY. Published by BPAY Pty Ltd.  BPAY payment products are offered by over 150 Financial Institutions. Contact your Financial Institution to see if it offers BPAY payment products and to get the terms and conditions. This is general advice – before using BPAY payment products please review the terms and conditions and consider whether BPAY payment products are appropriate for your personal circumstances.

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