Who should be a risk owner?

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Who is a risk owner?

A risk owner is a pivotal figure in an organization’s risk management framework, holding the responsibility for overseeing and managing a specific risk or set of risks. This role requires a deep understanding of the risk landscape relevant to their domain and a keen awareness of the potential impact on the organization’s objectives. Risk owners play a crucial role in assessing the severity and likelihood of risks, formulating mitigation strategies, and making informed decisions about whether to accept, transfer, or mitigate the risk. They are accountable for the outcomes of these decisions and are tasked with ensuring that risk management efforts are aligned with the organization’s goals and risk tolerance.

Effective risk owners are not only equipped with the necessary expertise and qualifications but also possess strong communication and leadership skills. They collaborate with cross-functional teams, communicate risk-related information to stakeholders, and foster a culture of risk awareness within the organization. By proactively identifying and addressing risks within their purview, risk owners help organizations navigate uncertainty and protect their interests, ultimately contributing to the achievement of strategic objectives while mitigating potential threats to success.

Key Responsibilities

The key responsibilities of a risk owner may include:

  1. Risk Identification: Identifying and understanding the specific risks within their area of responsibility. This involves assessing the potential impact of risks on organizational objectives.
  2. Risk Assessment: Evaluating the severity and likelihood of each identified risk to determine its significance and priority.
  3. Risk Mitigation: Developing and implementing strategies and controls to mitigate or manage the risk effectively. This may involve taking preventive actions, transferring the risk through insurance or contracts, or accepting the risk when it’s deemed acceptable.
  4. Monitoring and Reporting: Continuously monitoring the status of the risk, tracking changes, and reporting on risk mitigation efforts to relevant stakeholders and senior management.
  5. Decision-Making: Making informed decisions about how to address the risk, including allocating resources, setting risk tolerance thresholds, and approving risk management plans.
  6. Communication: Ensuring that risk-related information is communicated effectively to relevant parties, including other stakeholders, the risk management team, and executive leadership.
  7. Documentation: Maintaining comprehensive records of risk assessments, mitigation plans, and actions taken to address risks

The risk owner’s role is integral to an organization’s risk management framework. By assigning ownership to specific risks, organizations can enhance accountability and ensure that risks are managed proactively and in alignment with organizational objectives and strategies.

Required Skills

A risk owner plays a crucial role in managing and mitigating risks within an organization. To effectively fulfill this role, a risk owner should possess certain qualities and attributes. Here are some key qualities of an effective risk owner:

Accountability: The risk owner should demonstrate a strong sense of accountability for the risks assigned to them. They should understand that they are ultimately responsible for managing and mitigating those risks and should take ownership of the outcomes.

Subject Matter Expertise: A good risk owner should have a deep understanding of the specific risks they are responsible for. This includes knowledge of the industry, regulations, and best practices relevant to those risks.

Analytical Skills: Effective risk management requires the ability to analyze data and assess the severity and likelihood of risks. The risk owner should be skilled in risk assessment and analysis.

Decision-Making: Risk owners often need to make critical decisions regarding risk mitigation strategies, resource allocation, and risk acceptance. Strong decision-making skills are essential.

Communication: The risk owner should be an effective communicator, able to convey complex risk-related information to various stakeholders, including senior management and team members.

Collaboration: Risk management is a collaborative effort. The risk owner should work closely with other stakeholders, such as risk managers, department heads, and subject matter experts, to develop and implement risk mitigation plans.

Proactiveness: An effective risk owner is proactive in identifying and addressing risks before they escalate into major issues. They should not wait for problems to arise but should take preventive measures.

Resource Management: Managing resources effectively is essential for implementing risk mitigation strategies. This includes allocating budget, personnel, and technology resources as needed.

Adaptability: Risk landscapes are dynamic, and risks can evolve over time. Risk owners should be adaptable and able to adjust their strategies and tactics in response to changing circumstances.

Documentation Skills: Maintaining comprehensive records of risk assessments, mitigation plans, and actions taken is crucial for transparency and accountability.

Leadership: In many cases, the risk owner may need to lead cross-functional teams or influence decision-makers to implement risk mitigation strategies effectively.

Risk Tolerance Awareness: Understanding the organization’s risk tolerance and aligning risk management efforts with these tolerances is key to effective risk ownership.

By possessing these qualities, a risk owner can play a pivotal role in ensuring that risks are managed strategically and in a manner that aligns with the organization’s goals and values.


The qualifications of a risk owner can vary depending on the organization, the specific risks they are responsible for, and the industry in which they operate. However, there are certain qualifications and attributes that are generally beneficial for a risk owner:

  1. Education and Expertise: A risk owner should have a relevant educational background and expertise related to the specific risks they manage. This may include degrees, certifications, or professional qualifications in fields such as risk management, finance, law, engineering, or information technology.
  2. Industry Knowledge: Understanding the industry in which the organization operates is crucial. A risk owner should be familiar with industry-specific regulations, standards, and best practices that impact risk management.
  3. Risk Management Training: Formal training in risk management principles, methodologies, and tools is advantageous. Courses and certifications from organizations like the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), or the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) can be valuable.
  4. Experience: Practical experience in risk management or a related field is highly beneficial. This experience can come from previous roles in risk analysis, compliance, audit, or similar positions.
  5. Certifications: Depending on the industry and the nature of the risks involved, certifications such as Certified Risk Manager (CRM), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) can be advantageous.
  6. Technical Proficiency: Depending on the nature of the risks, technical skills may be required. For example, IT risk owners may need expertise in cybersecurity, while financial risk owners may require proficiency in financial modeling.

Risk owners qualifications

It’s important to note that the qualifications of a risk owner can vary widely based on the organization’s specific needs and the complexity of the risks being managed. Organizations should select risk owners who possess the qualifications and attributes that align with their risk management objectives and strategies.

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