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Blog > How to Quantify Risks in Financial Services?

How to Quantify Risks in Financial Services?

VComply Editorial Team
September 15, 2023
4 minutes

No business is risk-proof, and financial services are no exception. While you cannot make your business completely risk-proof, you can take measures to mitigate the risk and safeguard your business. Risk assessment and analysis are the first steps in understanding your risks and their impact on your business. Once you know this, you can take appropriate measures to mitigate the risks.

Understanding and quantifying these risks is crucial for maintaining stability, profitability, and compliance within the industry.

In this blog, we will explore the methodologies and tools used to quantify risks in financial services, shedding light on the intricate processes that safeguard the financial world.

What are the major risks for financial services?

Financial services are subject to various risks. These are operational, credit, market, and liquidity risks. Financial services must analyze and assess their risks to save them from failure, which may impact thousands of people. Understanding the risks can also help you stay prudent in regulating them more proactively. Let’s understand each of these. 

  • Operational Risks: Any risks associated with a financial service’s operations are operational risks. It can be cyber threats breaching a bank’s data where hackers steal the customers’ information. It can severely damage the reputation of the bank and break trust. Operational risk may also occur due to human, system, or process errors. The impact of the risk can vary depending on the nature of the financial service. For example, retail banking might have a low impact from human or system errors, while it can severely impact a trading service. 
  • Credit Risks: Credit risks are one of the biggest risks for financial institutions. It happens when the borrower fails to repay the amount per the agreement. While it is difficult to avoid a credit risk completely, financial services can take certain measures to lower the impact in several ways. 
  • Market Risks:  can occur due to a bank’s activity in the capital markets. As the equity market remains volatile, financial services that are involved in investing in capital markets are more susceptible to market risks. The commodity price can also play a major role for banks that have invested in companies that manufacture the commodities. Changes in the commodity price can affect the value of the investment. 
  • Liquidity Risks: a bank’s ability to access cash to meet funding obligations is referred to as liquidity risk. Common reasons for banks facing liquidity risk are over-reliance on short-term fund sources, mismanagement of liabilities, etc.
  • Regulatory and Compliance Risks: Regulatory risk emerges from shifts in financial regulations and a failure to adhere to existing regulations. Financial institutions must navigate a complex maze of rules governing their activities, and non-compliance can lead to penalties, legal repercussions, and harm to their reputation.
  • Reputation Risk: Reputation risk involves the potential damage to an institution’s reputation due to negative public perception, ethical lapses, or publicized scandals. A tarnished reputation can lead to customer loss, reduced trust, and financial setbacks.
  • Cybersecurity and Technology Risk: With increasing reliance on technology, financial institutions are vulnerable to cyberattacks and technology failures. Cybersecurity risks include data breaches, hacking, and ransomware attacks.
  • Interest Rate Risk: Interest rate risk refers to the potential impact of interest rate fluctuations on the profitability and value of financial instruments, such as loans, bonds, and mortgages. Rising interest rates can reduce the value of existing fixed-rate investments.
  • Political and Regulatory Changes: Changes in government policies, trade agreements, and international relations can affect the financial services industry. Political instability and regulatory changes can impact investment decisions and market stability.
  • Systemic Risk: Systemic risk is the risk that a failure or distress in one financial institution or market can trigger a chain reaction, leading to broader financial instability. It can threaten the stability of the entire financial system.
  • Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Risks: ESG risks are becoming increasingly important in the financial sector. These risks relate to factors such as climate change, social responsibility, and corporate governance practices. Institutions need to consider ESG risks in their investment decisions.
  • Pandemic and Health Crises: Events like the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the vulnerability of the financial services sector to health crises. Such events can disrupt operations, increase credit risk, and impact market stability.


 Additional Resource–  Strategies Banks Can Adopt For Worry-Free Compliance

How to quantify financial risks?

Quantifying risks in financial services involves a combination of quantitative models, data analysis, and expert judgment:

Value at Risk (VaR): VaR is a widely used measure to estimate potential losses in a portfolio or investment. It calculates the maximum loss over a specified time horizon and confidence level.

Stress Testing: Financial institutions subject their portfolios to various stressful scenarios to assess the impact of adverse market conditions.

Credit Scoring Models: Credit risk can be quantified using credit scoring models that assess a borrower’s creditworthiness based on historical data and other factors.

Scenario Analysis: Analysts create scenarios to evaluate how specific events or market changes might affect a financial institution’s assets and liabilities.

What is risk assessment?

Risk assessment is a process that helps you identify risks that can impact your business and helps you assess the intensity of the risks so that you can bring in the necessary processes and controls to reduce the impact of the risk. You can use a risk assessment framework to assess your risks. There are various risk assessment frameworks. Some of the well-known ones include:

  • NIST Risk Management Framework
  • Operationally Critical Threat, Asset, and Vulnerability Evaluation (OCTAVE)
  • Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) Risk Management Framework
  • ISO 31000 (series)
  • Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT)
  • Threat Agent Risk Assessment (TARA)
  • Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR)

riskops demo cta

What is the purpose of a risk management framework?

A risk management framework helps you identify risks, prioritize them, measure the impact of the risks, create a plan to mitigate the risk, document the response, and review it from time to time. 

Some of the objectives of a risk management framework are:

  • Developing a risk profile and doing a quantitive risk assessment
  • Find out ways to mitigate risks and justify the associated costs
  • Develop an inventory of assets
  • Identifying and documenting risks
  • Understanding the ROI for the risk mitigation process

How to effectively do a risk assessment?

While each company manages its risk assessment process, here are five common steps to follow irrespective of the nature of your organization. 

  • Identify the risk: The first step is to identify any potential risks that can negatively impact your business if they happen. A potential risk can be a natural disaster, a pandemic, cyberattacks, system shutdown, power failure, or utility outages. 
  • Who will be affected: Once you identify the risks, map each risk that will be affected the most. You can do a risk analysis to understand the intensity of the risk and how it will impact the concerned stakeholders. Risk can cause damage to the company’s reputation, critical infrastructure, employee safety, customer data, or business operations. 
  • Evaluate risk: In the next step, you need to evaluate the risk and create control measures to lessen the damage intensity or mitigate the risk. Some of the potential damage a risk can cause are financial loss, lawsuits, penalties, property damage, and business interruptions. 
  • Record your findings: The next step in the process will be to record your findings. Document them and keep them accessible to all. Ensure your record captures the risks, the intensity of each of the risks, the potential damage it can cause, who will be affected by the risks, and a plan o how you can minimize the impact. 
  • Review and update the risk profile: In a modern dynamic business environment, potential risks and their impact can change significantly. So, ensure to go back and review your risk document and update it from time to time.
Risk matrix example

Using a risk assessment matrix

 A risk assessment matrix is represented by a grid where the x-axis is represented as the likelihood of having the risk while the Y-axis denotes the impact of the risk. Each axis progress from low to high. Each event is plotted based on its likelihood of occurrence and the impact it might create. 

Quantitative Vs. Qualitative

Risk assessments can be either quantitative or qualitative. A quantitative assessment has some values attached to the probability of the risk occurrence and the impact it can create. So a quantitative risk can help you calculate the risk factor, which can have a tangible impact on the revenue. 

Qualitative risk assessment doesn’t have any numerical values attached to the probability of the occurrence nor the amount of loss prediction. It simply qualifies as a risk as more harmful or less harmful. 

Risk Mitigation Strategies

Quantifying risks is only part of the equation. Financial institutions also need robust risk management strategies, including:

  • Risk Mitigation: Implementing strategies to reduce or transfer risks, such as hedging or diversification.
  • Capital Adequacy: Ensuring sufficient capital is held to cover potential losses.
  • Risk Monitoring: Continuously monitoring risk exposures and adjusting strategies accordingly.

How VComply can help 

Quantifying risks in financial services is an ongoing and dynamic process. It requires a combination of data analysis, regulatory compliance, and prudent risk management strategies. In a rapidly changing financial landscape, institutions that excel in risk quantification are better equipped to navigate uncertainty and achieve long-term success.

VComply is an integrated compliance and risk management platform that helps you establish robust risk management practices in the organization. VComply helps organizations of all sizes and industries in their risk planning and preparation efforts. It facilitates the early stages of risk identification through a comprehensive risk register. VComply employs a data-driven methodology for conducting thorough risk assessments. The platform provides users with versatile reporting capabilities, enabling them to visualize risk matrix summaries, track trending risks, and generate exportable heat maps in various formats. Additionally, VComply incorporates an incident management module that establishes connections between risks stemming from external events. It further aids in risk mitigation by enabling the linking of controls to specific risks.

Book a live demo to understand what VComply can do for you.