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Risk managers weigh in on Malaysia’s brain drain

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As one of the countries most impacted by globalisation, Malaysia’s threat of a brain drain is a very real fear faced by local organisations.

A report by StrategicRISK and Zurich asked for the top concerns of Malaysia’s risk managers, and discovered most were in agreement that the country’s business leaders should be concerned about globalisation, the failure to innovate, the retention and acquisition of talent and reputation damage, among others.

The report, which gathered information via a risk management roundtable, spoke with numerous risk management professionals and CEOs.

Michael Leong, CEO of JLT Malaysia, said the country faces some major obstacles on its way to growth.

“Malaysia aims to escape the second-world chasm and join the league of high-income nations by 2020, but the biggest deterrent to this is the lack of skilled human capital,” he said.

“Malaysia is one of the countries most affected by the brain drain, a major problem in terms of delivering quality and specialised work through the utilisation of the appropriate talent, but also in terms of being unable to retain current local talent or attract foreign talent.”

Faisha Shahriman, a member if Malaysia Airport Holdings’ risk management division, added an employee leaving the organisation is more than just another asset walking out the door.

“The impacts are far greater owing to the loss of intangible assets such as his or her knowledge, experience and business relationships,” she said.

This concern was one of many addressed during a conference by the Malaysian Association of Risk and Insurance Management (Marim).

Another issue highlighted in the report is regulation, in that despite the complexity compliance brings to the table, risk managers in Malaysia agree regulation is one way of driving board engagement.

Zalina Jaflus, head of risk management at Malaysia Airports Holdings, said risk management is often about changing the business culture.

“But compliance with regulatory changes from the government makes it easier for risk managers to implement and enforce matters. Some risk managers look on regulatory compliance as an opportunity to put their ideas across and also to ensure commitment from their boards.”

Marim chairman and Telekom Malaysia group business assurance vice president Mohamad Bin Mohd Zain, added: “[Regulation] can provide an opportunity for us to move, improve and innovate.”

But he warned while regulation is healthy, it “has to be done on the right footing”.

In order to mitigate that issue, Bernard Lee, Maxis Berhad’s head of business continuity and insurance, said companies have to bring in employees who will be able to “see the future and who what might be other there” – something he admitted is easier said than done.

“I see risk management standards and practices being more ingrained within organisations to help management to better handle new challenges. At best, risk management is going to play a more crucial advisory role within the corporate structure,” he added.

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