New joint venture

Initiative tackles risk issues facing financial services

John TaylorA new initiative between Scottish academia and the financial services industry will aim to develop best practice in compliance and risk.

The Scottish Financial Risk Academy (SFRA), an established industry-academic partnership dedicated to improving the understanding of financial risk, has joined Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) to create the SFRA Group.

The SFRA, founded in 2010 by a consortium led by Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, is run by the Academic Director Professor Gareth W. Peters, chairman Professor for Statistics in Risk and Insurance at Heriot Watt University, and administered through the two founding universities.

The new SFRA Group was established in March as a working group of SFE with Dr John Taylor (pictured), President-elect of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and partner at Hymans Robertson, appointed as the group’s first chairman. In this role he will lead the steering committee of this new combined initiative.

The intended goals are to bring rigorous approaches to modelling to bear on industry practice and support knowledge transfer in training the next-generation of financial risk, insurance, data science and fintech sector professionals. 

Dr Taylor said:  “Risk management solutions within financial services are often based on mathematics and science, making it imperative for the industry to nurture this relationship with academia and engage with the impressive calibre of academics we have in Scotland. The SFRA offers a unique, collaborative learning environment to help encourage quantitative thinkers and deliver tangible outcomes for industry.

“A healthy relationship between financial services and academia puts Scotland in an ideal position to build a reputation as an international centre of excellence for managing risk within this sector. This is particularly important at a time when the incredible pace of change brought by new technologies is bringing exciting opportunities for businesses as well as new risks.” 

Graeme Jones, CEO of Scottish Financial Enterprise, said: “By coming under the SFE banner through the creation of the SFRA Group and appointment of Dr John Taylor as its first Chairperson, the SFRA will be able to expand its connections with industry and tackle a broader risk agenda through greater collaboration.

“The SFE membership will have the opportunity to directly connect with leading academics in order to better inform their operations around risk while providing world-class learning opportunities for talented individuals. Our competitiveness as an industry will rely on attracting and retaining a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce, the partnership with SFRA offers the platform for us to do that.”

The establishment of the SFRA Group and the appointment of John Taylor as its first Chairperson follows the appointment of Professor Gareth Peters as the Academic Director of the SFRA in August, 2017 bringing a refreshed approach to the risk management agenda in financial services in Scotland.

Professor Peters said: “For over a decade the SFRA has continued to evolve to capture the academic communities from Scotland primarily in Heriot-Watt and the University of Edinburgh who are working in quantitative risk, insurance, finance, machine learning, and data science.”

“This new opportunity to develop the SFRA Group within SFE will combine the best of novel academic thinking with world-leading industry practice through a wide variety of joint engagements.

“The intention is to develop and enhance practice and perspectives on quantitative solutions to risk and insurance problems currently faced by industry in a diverse array of emerging financial risk disciplines, be tailored to practice within Scotland and with the aspiration of bringing world-leading expertise in academia and industry to bear on industry practice and regulatory compliance and decision making processes.”



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