what is risk appetite

What is Risk Appetite? – Risk Appetite is the degree of risk that an organization is prepared to accept in the wake of its objectives, before action is decided to be necessary to reduce the risk. It may show a balance between the positive and negative risks that change and innovation brings. Although various authorities and standards provide various definitions for risk appetite, they refer to nearly the same meaning. For example, risk appetite is  the amount and type of risk that an organization is prepared to pursue, retain or take according to the ISO 31000. The PMBOK Guide defines it as degree of uncertainty an organization or individual is willing to accept in anticipation of a reward. Either this or that way it helps to guide an organization’s approach to risk management.

What is Risk Appetite?



There are very important concepts in risk management that are frequently misunderstood. Risk Owner, Risk Trigger, Risk Attitude, Risk Response strategies are a few of them. Although this topic was covered in our previous post; Risk Tolerance and Risk Threshold, we decided to go deeper and discuss the main aspects of Riks Appetite in this article to provide you a better understanding.

From a PMP Certification Exam point of view, Riks Appetite is an important concept because the availability of a risk management plan depends on these concepts. If you don’t know risk management terms well, your risk management plan might be useless.

Risk is an uncertain event or condition that may have positive or negative effects if it occurs. These effects might be on project scope, project deliverables, cost and schedule.

According to the above definition, risk can have either negative or positive effects. Therefore, risk management aims at increasing the probability and impact of positive risks and decreasing the probability and impact of negative risks.What is

The behaviour of stakeholders effects the strategies to be established to deal with positive and negative risks.

Every organizations have a particular behavior towards risks. Some of them want to accept, some of them want to avoid and others may be hungry to risks. Organizations behavior towards risks depends on the risk attitude of them. Risk appetite is a factor (like risk treshold and tolerance) that determines the risk attitude of the organization.

Risk Appetite Levels

risk appetite

Image Reference: nationalarchives.gov.uk

According to the dictionaries, appetite means hunger (desire to eat food). Risk appetite refers to a level which is being hunger to risks. It represents the level of risk that an organization is willing to take to grow. Some organizations are hunger to risks, others like to be on the safe side. If the risk appetite of an organization is high, this shows the organization is willing to take risks. On the other hand, low-risk appetite shows that the organization is avoiding to take risks.

Typically, the board of directors of an organization are responsible to decide the risk appetite. In other words, they determine the extent of the significant risks that the organization is willing to take. The risk appetite level can be determined by analyzing the nature of the work undertaken and the objectives pursued. For example, risk appetite may be low when the health and safety is critical. On the other hand, it may be high for an innovative project where pogramming and development tasks are performed.

Below are examples of risk appetite levels for an organization.

  • Averse: The organization is averse to take risks. Avoidance is a key decision.
  • Minimalist: The organization prefers to select options that are ultar safe and have low degree of risks.
  • Cautious: The organization is willing to select options that are safe and have low degree of risks.
  • Open: The organization is open to risks while considering all the potantial options.
  • Hungry: The organization is eager to be innovative and to choose options that have high risks and rewards.

Risk appetite levels vary from one organization to another depending on the business, industry and the objectives of the organizations.

Measurement



Risk appetite can not be measured all the time definitely. It is sometimes defined by a broad statement of approach. Depending on the losses and rewards, the organization may have a level for some types of risk.

On the other hand, measurements for different categories of risks guide an organization to know what level of delay or financial loss it is permitted to bear. If the organization knows the impact and possibility of occurence of risks, it will define the risk appetite level well.

Benefits of Defining Risk Appetite

An organization can make a balance between the positive and negative risks for innovation  if the risk appetite level is defined. This approach guides the organization on the level of risk to be taken and promotes consistency of approach across the organisation.

Defining the acceptance risk levels also helps to make better resource plannig to minimize the effects of negative risks.

Risk Appetite Statement



Risk appetite statement is the expression in written form of the level and types of risk that an organization is willing to take, or to avoid, in order to achieve its organizational objectives. It comprises both qualitative and quantitative analysis regarding earnings, risk measurements, liquidity and other important measures.

Conclusion

It is essential for an organization to define the risk attitude and communicate it to the whole organisation and bear in mind it while making decisions regarding the prioritisation of policies and projects. In this article, we discussed key risk management concepts. If you are preparing for the PMP Certification Exam, you should know them well.

See Also

Further Reading

Risk Treshold

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