Ashley Seymour

Senior Risk Advisory Manager, Provident Financial Management Services


How did you get your job?

I almost fell into risk by accident which I often find is the case with people who work in Risk & Compliance. I was working for a third party outsourcing company dealing with PPI complaints when the company I worked for were required to set up a risk team in order to become a managed service provider. I spent some time with the Senior Risk Manager to get a feel for what Risk entailed and immediately knew that it was an area that I could see myself working in long term – the idea of helping businesses understand their risks and manage them really appealed to me.

I spent 2 years working in that risk team before moving to work at one of the Big Four. Working for one of the Big Four enabled me to get a vast amount of experience in risk in a very short amount of time; I quickly began to understand that there is not just one way to carry out risk management and that practices need to be proportionate and appropriate to each business and it’s needs. My three and a half years saw me work mainly with Banks and Consumer Credit firms in the Financial Services sector, however also often provided support and advice to businesses in the Public Sector who were dealing with a whole set of equally demanding but different challenges.

I started my current role in September 2018 which is when I decided that I wanted to formalise my experience by taking the International Certificate in Financial Services Risk Management. The certificate has furthered my knowledge and understanding of Risk Management and inspired me to try new approaches when it comes to risk identification and mitigation.

What’s a typical day like as a Senior Risk Advisory Manager?

The main focus of my role is ensuring that my team of Managers have all of the tools and knowledge required to support and guide the first line in identifying and managing the risks they face on a day-to-day basis. That aside, no two days are ever the same for me! My tasks can range from creating new risk reporting to support the Executive Team in their decision making, carrying out risk workshops to better understand potential risks to key business processes or holding training sessions to increase risk awareness across the business – regardless of position.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

Most people see Risk Management as something which prevents a business from taking risks, when in fact we are here to do the exact opposite. The favourite thing about my role is when I am able to work with the first line to show how they can take risk responsibly – being aware of all of the risks (and any potential mitigants) before they go ahead with a new idea or improvement makes the chances of success much much higher!


What are the challenges?

As alluded to above, most people see the Risk team as people who are only there to impose additional work on the first line. Getting the first line to understand the true role of the Risk Function is probably the hardest challenge, and whilst it takes a long time to build and nurture the relationship between the first and second line, it doesn’t take much to jeopardise that relationship.

In what way are your IRM qualifications relevant?

Having had a lot of on the job experience I did wonder whether IRM would just be a formalisation of what I already knew, boy was I wrong! I learnt so much additional knowledge from completing my qualification, things that I was able to implement at my place of work throughout the study period not just once I had completed it. It is really easy to make IRM qualifications relevant to your place of work, in fact if you attend the additional revision workshops, you are openly encouraged to do so. That is not to say that if you did not have any risk experience that you couldn’t do well on this course – that’s the beauty of IRM, it is written in such a way that it is accessible to all regardless of where you are on your risk management journey.

What would you say to others thinking about joining IRM as a member?

Don’t hesitate! Being a member gives you great benefits and enables you to access some really good material that can start you on the path to formalising your risk education.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions? Has being linked to the IRM helped?

IRM has provided me with the technical foundation to progress in my Risk Management career which will hopefully culminate in me becoming a CRO one day.


How do I get into risk?

  1. Be inquisitive! Find out who manages risk at your current work place and spend some time with them understanding what it is they do and how what you do fits in with the business’ overall objective to manage risk effectively.
  2. It’s never too early to read about risk! There are some great materials out there which can give you a grounding in risk – including those on the IRM website. Start to familiarise yourself with some of the terminology and get comfortable with some of the simpler models of risks management.
  3. Formalise your knowledge! Take up a professional qualification to formalise what you might already know about risk. Whilst you don’t need to have a formal qualification in risk to work in a Risk Function, having a qualification such as the International Certificate in Financial Services Risk Management will really open doors for you.