Özlem Emgen, Riskonet’s expert in Turkey
01 november 2017
“Risk management serves businesses and banks" Riskonet has an international network of risk management professionals. Özlem Emgen – place of work: Istanbul – is one of them. Project finance institutions make extensive use of her expertise in risk management.
Özlem Emgen told us about the specifics of the financial sector in Turkey: “They want to ensure, that the companies and projects that they finance properly comply with the , social and safety regulations in Turkey and international best practise guidelines, and have soundly embedded risk management”, explained the expert on Turkey. Riskonet guides organisations through the maze of rules and regulations in European countries, even in those countries where there are important differences at the regional level. Take Turkey for example, a country in which the legislation on environment and safety regulations is fairly well organised.
Extensive screening projects
“Banks are willing to properly screen the companies and projects they want to finance for compliance with the legislation”, said Riskonet’s Turkey advisor. “This is far-reaching and can involve all aspects of safety, health and environment, or SHE. For instance, new construction project must legally undergo an environmental impact assessment. Of course, it involves more than just legal requirements and obligations. The banks call on our assistance because they want their clients to follow the best practices in all areas and comply with their commitments.”
Risks that are considered and covered
Furthermore, a well organised project where all of the risks have been looked at, considered and covered as far as possible is naturally good for the bank and the company concerned. The absence of incidents ensures continuity in the payment of interest and repayments, and the relationship between the bank and the company. “A well-managed project avoids damage to the environment and avoids accidents with construction workers. The banks want their clients to aim for good employment practices, for instance by promoting safe working practices and equal working conditions. So, they also feel responsibility to society.”
Due diligence and monitoring
Four large Turkish banks are happy to submit screening, verification and consultancy issues to Riskonet Turkey. “This may involve a due diligence investigation into the current situation within an organisation. When we do this, we review compliance using reports and our own studies. It also involves monitoring over a longer period of time, for instance for a construction project. It often involves extensive long-term consultancy projects which range from months to sometimes years and from the initial plans to delivery and occupation. We have been involved with one company for over ten years. I personally focus my expertise specifically at compliance with the regulations and best practices, identification of risks and advising on prudent and commercially justifiable risk management. Our clients mainly rely on my advice to comply with the law and best practise guidelines. However, also because they find it important for the companies they support to have their business well organised.”
Energy, construction and industry
During her work as a consultant, Özlem Emgen and her colleagues visit a wide range of organisations. These are often large companies in the energy sector, construction industry and in heavy industry, with projects that may potentially have a great impact on the environment and safety. Her work also frequently involves private organisations which have a need for compliance for good analyses and advice.
“It involves the actual risks of projects, but also the quality of risk management. For instance, a company may meet the requirements for creating safety teams, but are these teams prepared for their job? I try to identify the gaps between the theory and practice and bring solutions to the table. It is not just a question of reporting and advising. I also support the organisations with making regulations and advice workable.
Özlem Emgen emphasises that the advice from Riskonet does not concern whether a company or project is worth financing. “This is a decision for the banks. They deal with this themselves, and rightly so. I am the expert who supports the banks’ business contacts from a position of complete neutrality and keeps the focus on risk management.”
Following a stagnant period, the Turkish economy seems to be recovering. However, the signs have been green for Özlem Emgen for a long time and Riskonet Turkey is blossoming. “The projects take me to all corners of the country, from Istanbul and Izmir to the south and east. We have also been able to do consultancy projects in Cyprus. My commitment to Riskonet’s international consultancy network also means that I have been able to take part in a project in the Iranian petrochemical sector. The international link confirms to her clients in Turkey that her expertise is on par with international standards.
Versatile and flexible
Özlem Emgen enjoys her work, which brings her into contact with companies throughout Turkey. “Of course, there is a lot of competition in our field, particular from several large international firms. The great advantage of my small consultancy is that I am versatile and flexible and I can be brought in quickly. I place importance on being keen and tenacious, but also to properly understand the limitations and possibilities in practice.”
“I enjoy visiting companies and projects in person and talking with the employees involved. These insights help me to provide the best advice and to really help a company or project to get ahead. Especially when I can draw on practical experiences from my consultancy or contribute to international best practices, partly thanks to Riskonet. For instance, when we help develop an HSE management plan. It is good to know that you are have a clear added value and that you can help a company or project move ahead. Naturally, by doing this you also serve the interests of the financial backer or bank. After all, this is ultimately my client.