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  • Julien Haye

Fintech's Risk Frontier: A Conversation with Divya Eapen, CRO

Updated: Dec 1

In the third episode of the RiskMasters series, Divya Eapen, a seasoned chief risk officer, consultant and advisor, shares her insights and experiences in the world of FinTech. Divya's journey into risk management was somewhat unexpected. She initially applied for an asset management role at Citi, only to discover during the interview that it was actually a credit risk portfolio management position. Despite the surprise, she persevered and ultimately found herself in the world of risk management.

Divya's career has been marked by a transition from traditional banking to the dynamic realm of FinTech. Motivated by a desire for excitement and the opportunity to shape organizational strategy, she took a leap of faith. This shift allowed her to bring fresh ideas, gain credibility with stakeholders, and enjoy a fulfilling career, even if it meant facing some financial trade-offs.

Balancing a demanding career with family life is a challenge many professionals face. Divya offers a unique perspective, suggesting that rather than striving for perfect balance at any given moment, it's more constructive to view life as a series of years. This approach helps alleviate the pressure of always excelling in every role simultaneously.

Divya Eapen talking about risk management in Fintech on RiskMasters

One of the most significant challenges Divya encountered in her career was at Greensill, an experience she describes as both incredible and challenging. Despite her best efforts, a series of events, including the pandemic, led to the company's downfall. This left Divya grappling with a sense of failure and the need for a fresh start. Taking time to recover physically and mentally, she eventually emerged stronger and more determined.

Divya emphasizes the importance of resilience in risk management, especially for women in financial services. She believes that the unique experiences and challenges faced by women in the industry, while sometimes leading to imposter syndrome, can actually be a powerful asset. The ability to navigate and articulate risks in the face of adversity can offer a valuable perspective in boardrooms and executive teams.

As a Chief Risk Officer, Divya's role extends beyond traditional risk management. She highlights the significance of being a risk partner rather than a mere manager, emphasizing the need for collaboration across the organization. This includes maintaining a commercial focus and aligning risk management with growth strategies.

In the rapidly evolving world of FinTech, regulatory compliance is a critical concern. Divya underscores the importance of staying informed about regulatory changes, even in the absence of dedicated horizon-scanning teams. Networking with peers, staying engaged with industry groups, and leveraging AI tools can help FinTech companies navigate the regulatory landscape effectively.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning play a pivotal role in enhancing risk management capabilities. Divya envisions AI aiding in horizon scanning, transaction monitoring, and even credit risk assessment. However, she emphasizes that human judgment remains indispensable, especially in distinguishing between correlation and causation.

Divya's journey in risk management is a testament to the value of adaptability, resilience, and strategic thinking. Her insights offer valuable lessons for professionals navigating the complex world of FinTech, where balancing innovation and risk management is crucial for sustained success.

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The transcript of all the episodes can be found here:

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