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Chris has over 20 years’ experience helping our clients grow their businesses while protecting their brands, assets and people. He has played a critical role in helping Risk Advisory grow too: he established our North America presence in 2010 and has held a strategic board position for seven years. Chris succeeds David Claridge, who has been appointed CEO of recently demerged Dragonfly – the new identity of the former Intelligence & Analysis practice of The Risk Advisory Group.
Founder and Deputy Chairman of the Board Bill Waite said, “I am delighted Chris has been appointed as CEO – his demonstrable commitment to ensuring exceptional client service, supporting and developing colleagues, and innovating the ways we help clients ensure his success. I very much look forward to working with Chris, the board and the executive team to develop and expand The Risk Advisory Group.”
Chris Rowley said, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead Risk Advisory. I’ve spent almost 20 years within this business and I am passionate about everything we stand for. In particular, the amazingly talented people within our team, the quality of the work we do and the calibre of the clients we help. There is a big opportunity ahead for us to build on our reputation, helping clients plan for – and react to – a broader range of challenges and opportunities. I’m excited about leading the team in the pursuit of that goal and grateful to the Board for giving me the chance to do so.”
We sat down with Chris to learn more about why he loves the work he does and his plans for the future of the firm.
Why do you love to do what you do?
Genuinely, the job is fascinating. Because each year we work for clients facing hundreds of different scenarios, each day is different. Some call us because they’re reacting to a crisis, others because they are pursuing big opportunities. That means, on any given day, I might be working with our Africa team advising clients on what to watch out for in Equatorial Guinea – where the corruption risks are; who’s who in the ruling family; or what ‘normal’ looks like in terms of gifts and hospitality. In the afternoon, it can be something totally different: helping a client to nail down its strategy ahead of a big tender. Working with them to figure out who else is bidding perhaps. Or what the personal agendas of the key decision makers really are. Our clients are market movers and we take very seriously the responsibility of supporting their strategy and decision-making.
What is Risk Advisory’s biggest advantage?
Our biggest advantage is our people. It really is that simple. Having spent almost 20 years within the business, I cannot remember a team as strong and diverse as we have now. The subject matter expertise is second to none, and the commitment to quality – in everything we do – runs so deep within Risk Advisory: there is a genuine commitment that no stone will be left unturned that is just a part of our DNA. That translates into top quality work for our clients. And it’s how we’ve earned our position as trusted advisers to some of the world’s best known corporations, law firms and financial institutions. Leading such a talented team really is a privilege.
What’s a piece of work completed by a colleague that you’re really proud of?
Without turning this into the Oscars, there are so many talented people in our business that it’s invidious to pick out one or two. But I’ve seen some terrific work that demonstrates the different stakeholders that we are able to reach. For example, we’ve been working with the Donkey Sanctuary in the last few years as they advocate to stop donkeys being slaughtered for use in traditional medicines. This work has taken us down some complex supply chains in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done for the Donkey Sanctuary; it’s a terrific organisation and they’re great people to work with.
Equally, there is still so much innovative work to be done in more traditional investigations. One of my colleagues was able to identify widespread corruption in the medical devices sector in the FSU recently after systematically analysing thousands of public procurement records. He was completely absorbed in that world for several weeks, coming up for air only periodically to tell us what he’d found. It was a brilliant piece of work, exhaustive (and exhausting) and it completely transformed our client’s approach to selling its products into that region.
What will your appointment mean for Risk Advisory clients?
After so many years in the business, I have had plenty of schooling in the Risk Advisory way and I don’t intend to change any part of what we stand for: Risk Advisory is a codeword for quality. That will not change. Taking excellent care of our clients is absolutely at the forefront of that reputation. And that won’t change either. But I do want to make sure that all of our clients know the full extent of the help we can provide: whether they are facing tricky litigation, assessing a faraway opportunity or considering a new partner in a challenging territory, we’re on hand to advise.
How do you see our industry evolving over the next 5 years?
That’s a difficult one to answer because we are quite a diverse business. In our core market, integrity due diligence, we are absolutely clear on who we are and where we want to be: we are the go-to firm for clients who want top quality intelligence and analysis, particularly in challenging markets. Being confident about who we are and what we stand for is so important, because the market is changing. Some due diligence work is being commoditized – firms are undercutting one another to provide increasingly automated tickbox products and services. That is not our market: we know it and our clients know it.
We do see a huge opportunity helping clients with strategic decision making and assessing material sustainability. In practice, that can span gathering intelligence to give our clients a competitive advantage in large tender processes, to conducting supply chain and other ESG-focussed assignments. This area is the fastest growing part of our business at the moment. For years the market has been dominated by a couple of firms with a distinct ‘old boys’ club’ vibe. But we think there’s a market for fresher intelligence, that’s been rigorously sourced and that’s delivered professionally. Where you went to school and what club tie you’re wearing doesn’t matter to us. It’s the quality of the intelligence and analysis that does…
In some ways, there’s a similar challenge in our sustainability work. This is a space with a huge amount of noise. But we want our clients to feel safe in the knowledge that we can cut through a plethora of greenwashing and misinformation to provide them with qualitative, rigorously sourced information.