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Risk manager skill, expertise needs growing: FERMA execs

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STOCKHOLM—In the uncertain economic climate, risk managers need to “upskill” and improve their financial literacy to prove their worth to company boards and help their employers survive and grow, leaders of the Federation of European Risk Management Assns. said Tuesday.

During a news conference at FERMA's forum in Stockholm, FERMA executives said risk managers cannot isolate themselves from the financial turmoil in many parts of the world or the rapid changes in many industries because of technology.

“You cannot put your head in the sand; you have to understand and live with it,” said Julia Graham, chief risk officer for London-based law firm DLA Piper U.K. L.L.P. and vp of FERMA.

Ms. Graham said the skills that risk managers need have changed in the past five years. Now, she said, risk managers need to look forward more than backward, have greater financial literacy to understand and talk the language that company boards use, and improve their management skills, among other things.

It is likely that more risk managers will have master's degrees in the future, she noted.

In addition, said Jorge Luzzi, risk management director of Pirelli S.p.A.'s worldwide operations, as companies expand into emerging markets, risk managers need to ensure they are up to speed with regulations around the world.

“It is a small world, but it is complicated,” said Mr. Luzzi, who at Wednesday's conference close will succeed Peter den Dekker as president of FERMA.

During his presidency, Mr. Luzzi said social networking will become an increasingly important focus for FERMA. He said communication is extremely important for risk managers.

He said the association also needs to work on “delegation with a common brain” and share expertise developed in national associations across the European body.

The association's relationship with the European community will continue to be important, he said.

The next forum, in 2013, will be held in Maastricht, Netherlands, where the 1992 Treaty on European Union, which led to the creation of the single European currency, was signed, he said.

FERMA will hold a seminar next year in a major capital city as yet to be decided, he added.