What Is Risk Appetite?

Risk appetite

What Is Risk Appetite

The level of risk that an organization is willing to take in order to achieve its goals is known as its risk appetite. This level is set before it is decided that reducing the risk is necessary. It is a compromise between the risks posed by change and the potential benefits of innovation.

Risk appetite can also be defined as the amount and type of risk that an organization is prepared to pursue, retain, or take in the ISO 31000 risk management standard. An organization’s approach to risk and risk management can be influenced by this idea.

An organization’s risk capacity, or the maximum amount of residual risk it will accept after controls and other measures have been implemented, is another term for risk appetite.

In contrast, an organization’s risk tolerance is the degree of deviation from its risk appetite that it is willing to accept in order to achieve a particular goal based on parameters such as industry and vertical standards.


Factors that affect risk appetite

Risk appetite is an important part of enterprise risk management. It can be affected by many things such as:

  • An organization’s culture;
  • An organization’s industry;
  • Opposition;
  • The kinds of projects that are done; and
  • The current position of the industry and/or financial stability.


Examples of Risk Appetite

There are numerous examples of risk appetite. These are the main ones:

  • A company declares that it will not accept risks that could significantly reduce its revenue base.
  • Based on the provider and other risk factors, businesses may be less willing to move financial data into the same cloud environment than they are to move personal data there.
  • In general, an organization’s risk appetite should be determined by the extent to which it is willing to sacrifice environmental and cultural considerations in order to achieve its goals.

Risk Appetite Scale

For businesses looking to understand their risk appetite scale, it’s important to think about the rate of the risk and how it will affect them.

Risk appetite can be assessed by analyzing the following parameters after risk probability and impact have been used to guide an organization’s risk priorities and focus:


Risk Appetite Statement

A lot of businesses have documents called risk appetite statements that explain what they think risks are and how they will deal with them. Every decision related to risk management, including the identification, evaluation, and creation of risk response plans, is aided by this document.

A risk appetite statement can be created with the help of the guidelines below:

  • Include all stakeholders in the risk score’s definition.
  • Utilizing the risk score, establish the acceptable risk range.
  • When determining the acceptable risk range, take into consideration the risk tolerance and risk threshold.
  • The organization’s objectives and goals should be compatible with the risk appetite.

Management is able to understand risks and make well-informed decisions thanks to a risk appetite document. Stakeholders benefit from transparency and the ability to allocate risk management resources.

The corporate value, or willingness to take or avoid risks, strategy, and capacity to absorb risks are all conveyed in a risk appetite statement.

How is a Risk Appetite Statement Written?

First, major decisions regarding risk management should never be made by a CISO alone. To assist in evaluating goals, gather key stakeholders and senior management from various departments within your organization. Even after your initial risk appetite statement is written, these conversations will direct your subsequent risk management.

To keep the document clear and concise, agree on common terms once the team is assembled. For a smooth decision-making process, ensure everyone speaks the same language because different groups may have different internal vocabulary for the same business objective.

In your organization, prioritize strategic objectives in relation to risk tolerance and success metrics. If you recently completed your regular cyber risk assessment, you may already have done this. In that assessment, you can examine your risk profiles to determine your next steps. Strategic risks that may not have been directly addressed in your previous assessment should also be taken into consideration.

READ: What Is Risk Assessment Process

What is your company’s risk tolerance for losses resulting from poor business decisions?

The assignment of distinct risk profiles to your operational risks is one method for classifying them. Prioritization may facilitate this, but the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) risk appetite statement from 2018 can serve as an example.

The following are the risk categories established by USAID:

  • Programmatic
  • Fiduciary
  • Reputational
  • Legal
  • Security
  • Human capital
  • Information technology

There are many different kinds of risk appetite statements. Your risk managers ought to spend some time together reviewing examples of statements. A few examples are as follows.


Examples of Risk Appetite Statements

USAID’s comprehensive risk statement is a good primer for what an extensive appetite statement can cover. Take, for instance, the statement from 2018:

We have a moderate appetite for risk in regards to implementing programs in our nation with a long-term strategic focus. In order to achieve more efficient outcomes, we will prioritize our country programs and implement long-term strategic focus in conjunction with key stakeholders. In addition, we will constantly strike a balance between this and our obligation to carry out any initiatives, orders, or priorities from Congress or the interagency that were not anticipated during the strategy development process.

The agency clearly states the level of risk appetite for this particular scenario. The agency breaks down associated risks for each category, including methods for mitigating those smaller subcategories.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a regulator of retail and community banks in the United States, provides another illustration of a risk appetite statement:

The OCC will maintain robust controls to mitigate external threats against its technology infrastructure because it has no appetite for unauthorized access to systems and confidential data. The OCC doesn’t want to lose business operations’ continuity because of unreliable communications or system availability. Planning and carrying out business resilience must be in line with strategic goals. The OCC has a moderate appetite for cutting-edge technology solutions that can meet user needs in an environment that is rapidly changing. When considering and implementing new technology, the organization will adhere to appropriate governance and discipline.

In this example, you can see that you can have “no appetite” for a particular risk. In this case, it makes sense that an organization devoted to protecting financial institutions’ safety and security would not want to risk confidential data or information systems.

In contrast, the OCC is willing to experiment with novel technology and take some risks in order to improve existing systems and satisfy user demand by considering new program decisions through their organization’s governance, it mitigates this moderate appetite.


Risk Appetite framework

The amount of risk a company is willing to take in order to achieve its strategic goals and objectives is represented by a risk appetite framework. Some industries will always have risks but a company with enough tolerance may find ways to deal with those risks or work around them to achieve their goals.

This framework’s primary objective is to increase a company’s risk awareness so that it can accurately identify and quantify risks. As a result, they are able to make better decisions and cultivate a more proactive risk culture.

A company’s risk culture should aim to strike a balance between taking risks and being aware of them. Innovation may stagnate if there isn’t enough risk. A business may suffer financial losses or lose valuable resources if it takes too much risk.

Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for a company to understand the particulars of its risks and make use of them to its advantage when developing a framework.

For instance, if a retailer has a rival that sells the same product, they can use that knowledge to be more creative and develop a product that might attract customers to their own establishment.


Who makes use of a risk appetite framework?

A risk appetite framework can be used by almost any organization, no matter how big or small. This is due to the fact that, despite differences in risks and implemented strategies, the structure’s fundamental purpose remains unchanged. To manage the effects of security and fraud risks, a bank might, for instance, implement specific risk management policies. They are able to tolerate these risks for a considerable amount of time or until the risk becomes too severe, at which point the framework they have provides them with the ability to take more severe measures to combat the issue.

Some examples of organizations that can make use of risk appetite frameworks include:

  • Corporations
  • Organizations
  • Academic institutions
  • Health and medical facilities
  • Banks
  • Legal firms
  • Retailers
  • Nonprofits and charities
  • Manufacturers


What are the components of a risk appetite framework?

A risk appetite framework is composed of three primary components:

Risk appetite statement: the risk appetite statement is a document in which the essential information about the risks is described and presented. This statement can be used as a management tool to show managers and employees how much risk the company is willing to take in order to achieve important goals and objectives.

As a result, the statement aids the organization and employees in making risk-informed decisions regarding resource allocation, potential effects on other divisions, and management controls. Because everyone is well-informed about the potential risks associated with their operations, the RAS helps to cut down on any unforeseen losses or surprises.

READ: 8 Important Qualitative Risk Analysis Methods

Risk capacity: this is a mandatory metric that describes two conditions, in contrast to risk tolerance. It explains how much risk a company must take in order to succeed. Second, it shows how much risk the company can take before their current finances and resources are breached. This measurement typically refers to inherent and unavoidable risks related to businesses.

The company’s rate of positive returns for achieving its objectives takes many factors into consideration, including the requirements for resources and crucial time frames for carrying out essential business activities. The peak of your risk can then be identified using your return rates. Before you can determine the risk capacity required to achieve the goals, you must first define them.

Roles outline: the roles outline details the staff members who are in charge of putting the risk appetite framework into action and keeping an eye on it. For this purpose, some businesses employ risk analysts, a risk manager, or a group of specialists in risk management.