Risk Categories

There are two main risk categories, speculative risk and an event risk.

The ultimate goal of the firm is to maximize shareholder’s wealth. The environment is changing rapidly and any change may result in additional risks and losses. Therefore, effective enterprise risk management is essential to ensure achievement of the main objective of the enterprise, which is maximizing wealth of the shareholders. Both risk categories should be diligently managed.

Speculative risks can result in a gain or loss, such as fluctuating interest rates. An enterprise may protect itself from adverse effects of speculative risks by various techniques such as hedging. Speculative risks are further subdivided into core business risks and incidental risks.

Core business risks are part of the main business of the enterprise and reflected in the mission statement. Core business risks may negatively impact the operating profit of the enterprise. Core business risks can be specific (unsystematic) and market (systemic).  Specific risks include risks which impact only the enterprise and do not impact the economy as a whole. Specific risks include those associated with sales variability, operating leverage, resource risk, profit margin and turnover. Specific risks are also called diversifiable risk. Systemic risks are risks which impact the economy and the enterprise. Systemic risks entail occurrence of a negative market-wide event such as the risk of collapse of an entire market. It is also called un-diversifiable risk. Investors require higher returns for increases in systemic risk.

Incidental risks are risks that occur naturally in the business but are not part of the main business. However, control of such risks is vital to ensure survival of the enterprise.

Whether a risk is considered to be core or incidental sometimes depends on the activities of the enterprise. For example, interest rate risk will be a core business risk for financial institution and incidental business risk for a manufacturing enterprise.

Event risks can result in losses, such as fire, or can result in no loss but cannot result in any gain. A business may protect itself from adverse effects of event risks by various techniques such as insurance. Event risks can be fundamental or particular.

Fundamental event risks refer to impersonal losses on the macro level.

Particular event risks refer to personal losses on micro level such as a car accident.

Event risks are subdivided into operational and external downside risks:

Operational risks further subdivided into people, processes and systems risks. It refers to risks which occur due to failures during execution of operations.

External downside risks are risks that cannot be directly controlled by an enterprise and which can occur due to external factors. External downside risks are all risks that occur due to external factors that may have no affect or adverse effect on the enterprise. External downside risks are very difficult to manage. Examples of external downside risks include natural disasters, terrorist attacks, criminal threats and litigation.

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