Australasian risk and compliance institutes open merger discussions

As over 500 risk and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) professionals gathered on Australia’s Gold Coast, Grant Whitehorn, President of the Risk Management Institution of Australasia (RMIA) and the GRC Conference Director explained that formal talks with Australasia’s Compliance Institute (ACI) are underway.

“We have entered into discussions about a strategic alliance and even a potential merger. Those discussions are ongoing because there is a whole range of issues that we need to look at in terms of things like constitutional change and membership issues,” he said.

Mr Whitehorn believes such a move would benefit the 3000 plus members of both institutes and exploit the synergies between the governance, risk and compliance functions.

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A merger would also reflect a global trend that is seeing the functions working closer together under the guidance of a single governance risk and compliance professional, he added.

Mr Whitehorn believes that a more joined up approach between these historically separate functions represents the future for his and ACI members, as well as their organisations.

“You can have a compliance framework, a risk framework and a governance framework but if they don’t come together then it is pointless,” said the RMIA president. “These are the linkages that people need to make and something that we are stressing to our members.”

It was therefore not surprising that a big part of the GRC conference held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre focused on wider organisational defence issues.

“Normally an RMIA conference would be centred around purely risk-related areas, but because ACI and RMIA have joined forces this year we have got governance, risk and compliance under the same roof,” said Mr Whitehorn.

The theme of the conference was ‘A strategic and integrated approach to business’, and Mr Whitehorn explained that, as well as a focus on the synergies between governance, risk and compliance, RMIA is keen to encourage a more holistic approach to risk management.

“We are trying to get people to think about things holistically. If you think about it holistically and implement a comprehensive strategy you are halfway there. But often people put things in silos and only look at one area-so changing that mindset is a focus for us right now at this conference and going forward,” he explained.

As well as this more radical approach, the conference also focused on the usual big topics, such as the importance of risk culture and how to drive its development.

“The reason being that there was word going around after the global financial crisis that risk management failed us. Well it was not really a risk management failure but rather that people failed to implement risk and management and embrace the whole concept. People have to realise that risk management is bigger than just insurance or disaster recovery. It is actually a way of thinking about things differently. People need convincing and culture is obviously a key part of that,” argued the RMIA president.

Another big issue for Australasian risk managers, and for RMIA currently, is the continuing fallout from the global financial crisis.

“People are interested in what is happening in the rest of the world when it comes to both Europe and the United States in relation to the credit crunch and the ongoing fallout from the global financial crisis, because if you are running a global operation it changes the very nature of what you do. And, by the same token, people are now beginning to feel the squeeze over here as well,” said Mr Whitehorn.

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