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Strategy and Risk

Risks & management

Our risks and their management

Our Corporate Risk Register records our most significant cross-cutting risks. Should they crystallise, they would pose a significant threat to the successful delivery of our strategy. These risks have either been escalated from directorate level risk registers or are the result of recommendations from the Executive Team, Audit Committee or ACCA’s Risk Manager. They cover a range of issues, with 10 risks currently held on our corporate level risk register (14 for the year ending 31 March 2016).

Each corporate level risk is ‘owned’ by a member of the Executive Team. The Executive Team reviews all corporate level risks every month. New corporate risks are added and existing risks de-prioritised as appropriate. 

 

Key changes to our corporate risks in 2016-17

Removals:

  • Stability and successful management by our Governance team means risks around maintaining UK statutory recognition are now contained in our underlying Governance directorate register.
  • For the same reasons, customers’ ability to transact onlineinability to deliver the outcomes described in our strategy, contractor/supplier failure and inability of our operations to adapt to technological change are now on the directorate risk registers.

Merged risks:

  • Because the risk of net operating surplus being more difficult to predict is a result of budgeting and forecasting becoming less predictable, we have merged them.

Additions:

  • A new risk reflects the impact changes to the ACCA Qualification will have on our learning providers.
  • Our student body is evolving in a way that is amplifying progression challenges. A new risk has been included to capture this.

 

Risk appetite

We’re committed to maintaining our reputation for quality, and taking a bold and innovative approach to market development.

Our corporate level risks focus on minimising threats to the standing and value of the ACCA brand.

Risk appetite definitions:

Hungry: eager to be innovative and choose options offering potential higher rewards, despite greater inherent risk.

Open: willing to consider all potential options with a bias towards options likely to prioritise the certainties of successful delivery over potentially high reward strategies.

Averse: preference for safer options which have a lower level of residual risk but which may have more limited upside potential.

  • Inability to accurately forecast income and costs
    • Mapped to strategic outcome

      Our difference

    • Risk appetite 

      Open

    • Mitigation

      Income governance in place; monthly monitoring of financial performance; global focus on plans to increase exam uptake and enhance student progression.

  • Failure to deliver the key elements of our Flexible Exam Delivery and Support Programme
    • Mapped to strategic outcome

      Our vision for 2020

    • Risk appetite

      Hungry

    • Mitigation

      Programme governance and management framework, including robust resource planning and strengthened collaboration between the programme and key ACCA teams, such as IT and Transformation.

  • Restrictions on our ability to operate
    • Mapped to strategic outcome

      Attract

    • Risk appetite

      Hungry

    • Mitigation

      Cross-organisation review group reports to the Executive Team monthly on recognition risks, which is provided to Market Oversight Committee, with specific mitigations taken on a market by market basis.

  • Increased competition attracting potential students to other career development paths
    • Mapped to strategic outcome

      Attract

    • Risk appetite

      Hungry

    • Mitigation

      Ongoing review of marketplace and alternative offerings through a programme of global competitor monitoring, with oversight from the Market Oversight Committee.

  • Failure to comply with legislation in countries where we operate
    • Mapped to strategic outcome

      Lead

    • Risk appetite

      Open

    • Mitigation

      Dedicated team of Regional Business Support Managers who actively manage ACCA’s national and regional compliance risks, with guidance from ACCA’s global Corporate Assurance team. Global delivery of employee training on compliance issues.

  • Loss of students to alternate qualifications
    • Mapped to strategic outcome

      Vision

    • Risk appetite

      Hungry

    • Mitigation

      Building in increased flexibility around products and offerings to cater for changing needs and investment in the ACCA brand.

  • Information security breaches
    • Mapped to strategic outcome

      Flexible delivery

    • Risk appetite

      Open

    • Mitigation

      Defined security strategy, encompassing a vulnerability management process and information security awareness training.

  • Failure of qualification operational processes, resulting in failure to comply with education regulator requirements
    • Mapped to strategic outcome

      Operational excellence

    • Risk appetite

      Averse

    • Mitigation

      A comprehensive range of physical and digital controls of the entire end-to-end process. Ongoing monitoring of compliance with primary educational recognition (Ofqual) and continuous engagement with education regulatory environment.

  • ACCA’s distribution network not ready, willing or able to support ACCA Qualification and business model changes
    • Mapped to strategic outcome

      Develop

    • Risk appetite

      Averse

    • Mitigation

      Ongoing relationship management with learning providers through Regional Heads of Education. Regular consultation with learning providers globally and communications and engagement plan in place around key changes.

  • Changing ACCA student mix (geographies and demographics) leading to progression challenges
    • Mapped to strategic outcome

      Attract

    • Risk appetite

      Hungry

    • Mitigation

      Integrated Learning Support initiative being developed and recruitment strategy review in progress, as part of 2017-18 strategic priority of Attract and Develop: building greater market adoption.