WB Advanced Analytics Non-Financial Risk Squad — [A multidisciplinary team for data security, privacy and ethical use]
By Nikoletta Bozika
Non-financial risk (NFR) management has grown significantly in importance and complexity and therefore, financial institutions are investing heavily. The NFR domain includes operational risks, regulatory compliance, ethical conduct, information technology (IT) risks, third party risks and legal risks. Usually, these disciplines operate in silos which results in inefficiency and inability to effectively manage the spectrum of risks brought about by the rapid technological pace of today.
In order to leverage AI technological advancements, while adequately mitigating the associated risks, WB Advanced Analytics has set up a non-financial risk (NFR) team of experts from different disciplines. Currently, these disciplines include a Lead with a data engineering background, an Information Security expert covering for the Operational Risk Management side, a Legal expert — taking care of the legal and regulatory issues and a Data Security Engineer that is expected to join the team soon.
The NFR team works towards a holistic approach to data security, risk management and legal topics around building data-driven algorithmic products. John Müller is leading the NFR team. He said about their mission:
“We want to deliver world-class Non-Financial Risk thought leadership, processes and advice, aimed at making NFR understandable and efficient, so that we keep WBAA compliant, and bring ING further as a whole.”
As with every organization that is scaling-up, doing business entails exposure to new risks while regulatory scrutiny is increasing. Moving away from a silo-approach to non-financial risk, the NFR team combines disciplines within one body to achieve a consistent understanding of risks and the effective handling of overlapping risks, by avoiding fragmented systems, overlapping communications and duplicative controls which add friction to business. John explained:
“Because of the ambition to scale-up WBAA we knew we had to enable our product teams to deal with NFR in an efficient and scalable way, automating where we can and making sure processes are well defined and easy to understand. This had to be done across the various different disciplines of NFR, thus needing different kinds of experts. My expectation is that with the great people in the NFR squad we might surprise people with our solutions.”
Simone Weeninck, has proven track record as an IT Risk Professional. Her role in the NFR team as the Operational Risk Management Officer is to make sure that WBAA’s new products are future proof from a risk perspective. She said:
“When the risk-balance is right, the WBAA products and platform will be trusted and people will use them. I am continually challenged to rethink how to address risks and controls in the best way for advanced analytics and AI purposes, keeping pace with a bunch of highly creative people, while keeping it simple and leverage automation where possible so WBAA can concentrate on the products and data platform”.
Sophie Reddering is the legal expert of the NFR team with a background in data privacy consultancy — helping big organizations prevent risks by implementing privacy rules. Sophie’s legal expertise is bridging the NFR team with the wider legal organization which makes her role both challenging and exciting. She said:
“WBAA is exploring new and unknown territory and this means that there are often no clear-cut answers to the legal questions that might arise. This provides room for me and ING’s legal team to learn and explore in many legal fields, and underlines the importance for us all to become a lawyer of the future. My goal is to help the team deal with legal challenges in the best way possible and I hope to keep growing as a professional while doing so”.
The benefits of a multi-disciplinary approach to NFR for AI
Multidisciplinarity is considered the best lead to innovation. It contributes to advancing understanding or solving complex problems while engaging actors from different disciplines in the innovation process. The NFR team is set up according to this framework fostering a culture of collaboration and coordination — which is the primary means of managing risk:
“WBAA has worked together with our single points of contact from legal, compliance and ORM/IRM in a multi-disciplinary way, by having them in the same room once a month to update on our progress. This set-up was so successful that we decided to recreate it internally for WBAA now that we scale up. The most important consideration in choosing for this approach was the effect that these experts have in their respective fields, they challenge and inspire each other to look at NFR in different ways than just from their own expertise, I find that this gets you much better results in controlling risks”, John said.
The multidisciplinary approach taken by WBAA’s NFR team aims to manage multi-faceted risks and ensures clear roles for accountability. However, at the same time, it supports a single, comprehensive non-financial risk taxonomy. Simone said:
“Working together in a multi-disciplinary team is the best thing ever. Because I directly hear other views and can talk about it, it keeps me on my toes and keeps me learning”, while Sophie added: “I think we point out each other’s blind spots and fill the gaps — which makes us a better team. With our respective backgrounds, we can not only help WBAA comply with ING’s standards but also tell ING what WBAA needs in order to keep up the speed of innovation”.
If you wish to learn more about WB Advanced Analytics and the NFR squad, please send an email at email@example.com