Risk managers must think strategically and look for the opportunities that business risks can provide if they are to see their function elevated to board level.

Anthony Cherry head of Beachcroft Wansbroughs' risk management service, Risk Counsel, told delegates at a workshop that risk management would become a board level function only if the risk manager could demonstrate the strategic business opportunities provided by risk management.

"There is a perception within companies that risk management is a negative thing. Risk managers often come from an insurance background.

"They are good at understanding hazard risks - such as those that might cause injury to employees - and the placement of risks in the insurance market.

"But there can be opportunities in risk.

"Risk management techniques can be brought to provide solutions to strategic problems. By thinking about things strategically, risk managers can elevate what they do to board level."

Cherry gave the example of a risk manager who was assessing the risks placed on his company by the death of an employee in another company in the same industry.

Risk analysis might reveal potential opportunities, such as the purchase of the other company while it was suffering the negative effects of risk, he said.

"Thinking laterally in almost any given scenario will bring opportunities.

"Never consider your company in isolation. Look at the market and the industry."