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Risk management and management accountants


The idea of accountants taking risks tends to go against the stereotype image that accountants get – you know, grey suit, drives a Volvo and so on.  Businesses take risks everyday, based on information available and sometimes on experience or gut instinct. Management accountants provide a lot of the information needed by managers to make decisions on a daily basis. One wonders though what happened to assessing risk in banks in recent times. I am reading a book called Downfall by Joseph Stiglitz at the moment and he sure has a lot to say about the lack of risk assessment by US (and European) banks on recent years. In one passage he talks about how banks assumed the risk of other banks failing, or of a property-crash were seen as minimal. But look what happened.

I read a piece back in January in CIMA’s Insight on risk management and management accountants. The key message from this article was that management accountants need to get the message across about risk. They are after all providers of information for decision making, and are training in risk management.  As noted in the piece, defining exactly what risk is is not that simple. It seems risk managers may not have been overly involved in decision-making at high levels in recent times. The author suggests that risk managers and managements accountants work closely together to get the message across about risk. I couldn’t agree more. Management accountants may have shook off the dull, boring stereotype and are now often part of the management team and/or board. Thus, as the article suggests, risk managers might piggy-back on the organisational knowledge of management accountants and get active in the areas where risky decisions are being discussed or taken – i.e. at board level.

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About martinjquinn

I am an accounting academic, accountant and author based near Dublin, Ireland.

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