As such we consider risk
in three broad types:

Risks to the accountancy profession and the value that accountancy brings to society

Risks to (the needs of) members, affiliates and students

Risks that if left to crystallise could impact on our ability to deliver our corporate plans, strategy and long-term sustainability.

The overall objective of our enterprise risk management (ERM) approach is to help link strategy and risks, as clearly as possible, so that our decision-making is transparent, both internally and externally, and based on robust evidence.

Our ERM approach ensures that we have a holistic view of the risks and opportunities facing us drawing on our internal skills and knowledge, and consideration of the wider environment in which we operate, along with drawing on the expertise of our external parties.

Ten risks are currently held on our corporate level risk register (10 for the year ending 31 March 2018).


Ownership and oversight

Our corporate risk register records the top cross-cutting risks and uncertainties we believe ACCA faces. These risks, should they crystallise, have been judged to pose a significant threat to the successful delivery of our Strategy to 2020 and to ACCA’s longer-term sustainability.

Each corporate-level risk is owned by a member of the Executive team, with the entire team reviewing all corporate-level risks every month to reflect any market, legislative and/or operational developments and adjusting mitigation and threat levels accordingly.

Our Audit Committee exercises independent oversight of both all ACCA’s corporate risks and our ERM framework.


Risk appetite

In line with ACCA’s mission and core values, we remain committed to a bold and innovative approach to market development, so we can maintain our reputation for being at the forefront of responding to market needs, wherever these needs might be. Because the integrity of our qualification is at the heart of our brand, our corporate risks have a strong 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.

Corporate risks and uncertainties

Risk Relates to
Strategic Uncertainty around student behaviour Sustain Open
  • scenario analysis based on latest internal and external influencing factors
  • key costs forecasted on driver-based modelling
  • new exam forecast review process implemented.
Strategic Increased protectionist behaviour Attract Hungry
  • develop and implement partnerships with national bodies in key markets
  • establishment of cross-functional working groups to focus on targeted mitigation plans for specific country or region recognition risks.
Strategic Increased competitor behaviour Attract Hungry
  • integration of ACCA Qualification into university degree programmes
  • strong emphasis on B2B partner management
  • strategic alliance with CA ANZ.
Reputation Failure to comply with existing, changing or
new regulatory or legislative requirements
Lead Open
  • internal/external audit process in place to address compliance
  • in-country legal advisers identify changing and new legislation
  • subject matter experts across ACCA provide expert compliance advice
  • global compliance policies in place are accessible via Compliance Gateway.
Reputation Loss of data or sensitive information Flexible delivery Open
  • information security awareness and training across ACCA
  • penetration testing and vulnerability management programme.
Operational Failures in our end-to-end exam processes Operational excellence Averse
  • robust end-to-end exam processes and controls in place
  • contracts with strategic suppliers to ensure exam process delivers to performance measures and governance framework
  • Exam Contingency Group monitors potential disruption to exams with response plans reviewed for each session.
Strategic Distribution network unable to support changes to ACCA’s business model Sustain Open
  • Market Adoption Change Programme supports ACCA’s learning providers through changes to business model
  • international train-the-trainer sessions
  • extensive relationship management of strategic partners.
Strategic Failure to comply with educational regulators’ requirements Operational excellence Averse
  • regular compliance reviews and confirmation of adherence with regulatory conditions
  • continuous engagement with education regulatory environment.
Reputation Supporting expectations, and ensuring exam progression, against increasing student diversity Develop Hungry
  • review and expansion of ACCA’s suite of learning products and support
  • student progression rates actively tracked, enabling appropriate action in response to early-warning indicators.
Strategic Challenges and opportunities arising from Brexit Sustain Open
  • ongoing monitoring of developments via Brexit Oversight Group
  • representation of ACCA and member interests through external communications and consultation responses.