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Accountants and Business Advisers

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The Role of the Risk Management Professional

The prolonged and extreme nature of the challenges of 2020 have left many risk and assurance professionals feeling fatigued and with the holiday period giving them the opportunity to rest, reflect, and reset for the year ahead.

As with professions such as law and medicine, it is important to acknowledge the ‘high level of intellectual and emotional engagement’ required of risk and assurance professionals.

Regardless of the challenge, we strive to be the calm, measured voice, that appears comfortable with uncertainty, inclusive of unfamiliar topics, stakeholders and consistently bring our A-Game.

We seek to provide effective, practical tools, advice, and strategies to help others navigate high-stakes decision-making, and progress towards their desired goal.

In addition, we often work in small teams, with limited resources, must negotiate effectively with a variety of stakeholders (often with competing agendas and priorities), and continue to enhance our knowledge and experience.

It is therefore vital that we implement effective preventative strategies, to avoid potentially ‘depleting our internal resources,’ and detracting from our performance, value, and other aspects of our lives.

Experts in neuroscience have explained that when we allow ourselves to run on empty, our sympathetic nervous system becomes over activated, and we get trapped in a state of chronic flight, fight or freeze, or ‘amygdala hijack.’ In this heightened state of arousal, our physical and mental responses focus solely on ‘survival, threat management and preparing for potential injury.’

Until calmed, cognitive function is impaired, and professionals will feel fatigued, overwhelmed, and are more likely to “perceive threats that do not exist, react instead of respond, act instead of reflect, and speak instead of listen.”

Without sufficient recovery time, we may develop ‘chronically high levels of cortisol.’ Attempting to assist others in this state, will often result in poor outcomes, inclusive of damaged relationships and reputation, financial loss, and health impacts such as burnout, and fatigue.

Professionals may also lose confidence and motivation, experience irritability, social withdrawal, exhaustion and ultimately attrition.


Given the stakes, it is therefore, vital that we seek to practise what we preach, and implement effective controls to mitigate the risks, inclusive of:

  • Striving to meet basic psychological, physical and emotional needs such as regular exercise, time with friends and family, healthy diet, and adequate sleep, rest and recovery;
  • Scheduling regular physical and mental time to engage different parts of the brain, calm the nervous system and recalibrate;
  • Exploring techniques that help with self-awareness and acceptance, such as regular reflection and mindfulness, which help us understand situations and events that may be potentially triggering, as well as our own needs and limits based on our unique psychology, life experience and risk appetite;
  • Catching up with trusted peers regularly which can help reduce isolation and frustration, and provide additional insight, perspective and support as we attempt to make sense of confusing, complex and potentially distressing information; and
  • Creating and diligently maintaining boundaries – inclusive of adequate balance between personal and professional, and seeking additional support and resources as required.


We look forward to working with you to help you and your organisations get some further runs on the board in 2021.


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