Five Questions With: Dawn A. Mugford

Dawn A. Mugford was recently named chief risk officer for the Rockland Trust Co. and its parent company, Independent Bank Corp. Mugford has more than two decades of experience in risk management, audit and quality assurance, most recently as senior vice president and director of operational risk management, corporate security and investigations at Eastern Bank. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada.

PBN: In your experience, how has the prevalence of fraud and cybersecurity threats affected the scope/importance of risk management for financial institutions?

MUGFORD: As a bank, safeguarding customer information is paramount to everything we do. Fraud and cybersecurity threats require constant vigilance and persistent attention to detail, as they have the potential to impact customers and nearly all of our risk domains.

Because we work hard to build relationships with and earn the trust of our customers, financial institutions are often imitated by fraudsters in an attempt to secure personal information. To mitigate these risks, we focus on educating our customers and communities on the risks of fraud, continuously improving the effectiveness of our existing fraud mitigation tools and enhancing our cybersecurity infrastructure.

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PBN: Have the types of risks facing banks, or companies overall, changed since the beginning of the pandemic? If so, how, and how does that change what you look for and monitor?

MUGFORD: The pandemic changed the world in many ways for our colleagues, customers and communities. Two areas of risk which have earned significant attention at Rockland Trust since the start of the pandemic are ensuring culture is maintained in the hybrid work environment and fraud. The bank has worked exceptionally hard to build a great place to work where colleagues and customers feel connected, cared for and valued.

Maintaining this award-winning culture while implementing hybrid work, as well as onboarding new employees and integrating them into the bank’s culture in a hybrid environment, has required more intention and innovation. On the customer side, more individuals are doing their banking digitally, which has led to more opportunity for fraud. While much of what we do to monitor these areas remains the same, we have also developed new strategies, communications, and programs to proactively alleviate these and other emerging risks.

PBN: Part of your new role will be expanding Rockland Trust’s enterprise risk management infrastructure. What does that entail and why is that important?

MUGFORD: Rockland Trust’s enterprise risk management infrastructure supports our growth trajectory. As we evolve, we pressure-test current risk management processes to determine if there are new risks to address and new programs that need to be created to augment what we do now. Additionally, we continue to refine our metrics, reporting and analytics so we can continue to understand and mitigate risks.

PBN: What is the best advice you would give to banks, or companies overall, when it comes to tracking and protecting against risk?

MUGFORD: An organization cannot, and should not, try to eliminate all risk. In order to continue to be in business, risks must be taken. There can be no reward without risk. An organization would need a crystal ball to have perfect tracking information on all of the risks it faces. Organizations should strive to plan against the worst and attempt to get out of their comfort zone. Almost any strategic stretch can be attempted with good risk management – it’s safe to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with the right preparation and execution.

PBN: What are your top three goals for your first year in your new role?

MUGFORD: My first goal is to build relationships across the organization. My new colleagues have already been very kind and welcoming. Next, I intend to continue the evolution of our enterprise risk management program, expanding on the solid foundation Rockland Trust already has in place. Lastly, my goal will be to help Rockland Trust find the sweet spot between risk and reward to continue the success and growth the bank has enjoyed over the years.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at 

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