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Statewide overhauls risk management approach

Statewide Super has hit the refresh button on its approach to risk, prompted by COVID-19 and the Royal Commission.

The funds recently appointed chief risk officer, Jason Muir said his goal is to refresh the industry fund's approach to risk in a post-COVID-19 and Banking Royal Commission environment.

Speaking to Financial Standard Statewide Super's chief executive Tony D'Alessandro said the fund is focusing on risk as a way to support sustainable returns for its members.

"When you look at the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to any organisation, such as COVID-19, it prompts a greater awareness on mitigating those risks," D'Alessandro said.

"We know that mitigating risk creates cost efficiencies within the fund, which in turn delivers better outcomes for members."

Muir, who joined Statewide Super from Deloitte, said in reassessing risk management the fund is focused on being diligent rather than cautious.

"The key thing is the speed in which risk can impact business now, and you can see that by looking at COVID-19; we went from running business as usual to complete lockdowns in the space of a month," Muir said.

"For us it is about having processes in place to be able to respond quickly and make it easy for the organisation to understand our role is and how to play our part."

Muir said risk should be part of the culture of any organisation and it is important for everyone to be involved in managing risk at all levels.

"Risk training has become a part of employee development plans and can help everyone understand their role within risk," Muir said.

"That really helps people become consciously aware, and then we are providing them with the right tools to support them to make better decisions."

Statewide said it focused on findings from the Accenture 2019 Global Risk Management Study, which identified that the rise of technology like AI and automation presents challenges for risk managers.

The study, which was conducted before COVID-19, said the external environment would present a need for risk to be approached in different ways.

"COVID-19 highlighted some challenges for us in terms of assessing and responding to our risks, we had to rapidly develop the internal understanding of each individual's role in managing risk," D'Alessandro said.

"This was particularly important when it came to adapting some of our certified identification processes which provided a solution for members who were isolated as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Muir said Statewide is optimistic about the uses for things like AI, but said it will also ensure members are able to speak to another human whenever they need.

"AI can come in many forms, but it can be an enabler for risk management.  AI can be great when used for trend analysis which can identify where things are and where they should be going," Muir said.

"Technology is one of those things that can be one of the great enablers, but the benefit of being a smaller fund that is locally-based is that we can communicate with members really easily and that is one of the greatest risk management tools."

Read our full COVID-19 news coverage and analysis here.

Read more: COVID-19Statewide SuperFinancial StandardJason MuirTony D'Alessandro
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