Monthly Archives: August 2013

Human Risk 4: Steve Ballmer, The Decline Of Microsoft

This is the fourth in a series of articles on Human Risk. The first three can be found here, here and here.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who took over from Bill Gates in 2000, recently announced that he will be resigning within 12 months. The fact that Microsoft’s shares jumped almost 8% on the news is testament to the widely held belief that Ballmer is primarily responsible for the decline of Microsoft relative to its much nimbler rivals such as Google and Apple.

By some estimates as much as $24 billion was added to the market value of Microsoft on Ballmer’s announcement. This is proof, if ever any was needed, that culture and risk are twin sides of the same coin. The only question is; what if any, were the specific cultural issues that caused one of the most important organisations in modern history to decline in value and competitiveness? Continue reading

Human Risk 3: Why Banks, Organisations Must Rethink Their Approach

This is the third in a series of articles on Human Risk. The first two can be found here and here.

It is commonly acknowledged that a primary cause of the last financial crisis was the poor culture and values within the banking industry—superstar bosses with big egos, greed and the failure to challenge management have all been identified as having played a major role. This assertion has been supported with reference to the likes of Fred Goodwin of RBS, Dick Fuld of Lehman Brothers and Stan O’Neal of Merrill Lynch who have all been named in Time magazine’s list of 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis.

If personal skills and attributes were indeed a major cause of the financial crisis then we must conclude that the failure of HR was as much to blame as the failure of traditional risk management. Continue reading

Risk Culture: Accountants, Auditors Should Be Leaders Not Police Officers

 This article was originally written for and included in the ACCA Quarterly Newsletter for Financial Services, AB.Direct.

What is the risk culture of an institution? When assessing the economic and competitive sustainability of an organisation, is it good enough to focus solely on the risk culture? Continue reading

JP Morgan Whale Trade Investigation

 It would seem that the authorities are taking a very close look ay JP Morgan’s $6.2 billionn derivative loss. The issue appears to be that pressure was placed on the trader to mismark the portfolio and the risk and pricing parameters adjusted accordingly. The folowing article from Bloomberg outlines the issues: London Whale Resurfaces in Potential US JP Morgan Case.

However, the article from the website Zero Hedge is a bit more detailed. It includes references to to the Congressional report on JP Morgan and why the bank may have been in breach of the Volcker rule.

Jonathan Ledwidge is the author of the book Clearing The Bull, The Financial Crisis And Why Banks Need A Human Transformation (iUniverse).

How Race, Xenophobia Are Defining American Democracy

The following is the third in a series of articles on democracy. The first article, on the Arab Spring can be found here and the second article on the EU can be found here.

During the 1980s, despite his hawkish attitude towards the Soviet Union and his placement of US nuclear missiles in Europe, President Ronald Reagan reached agreement on the reduction of nuclear weapons with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Some historians say that Reagan’s challenge to the Soviet system was one of the reasons for the downfall of communism.

Fast forward to December 2012 where the US Senate fails to muster the two-thirds majority required for ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They failed because Republicans feared the Tea Party would go against them for making deals with the UN, a “foreign power”.

It is a sad statement on the state of democracy in America today—those who claim to be Reagan’s followers have no clue as to how his legacy was developed. It is all a testament to the role race and xenophobia are playing in the political gridlock that is today’s American democracy. Continue reading

Human Risk 2: A Much Bigger Risk Than Most People Think

Human Risk 2:  A Much Bigger Issue Than Most People Think

This is the second in a series of articles on Human Risk. The first can be found here.

It has been one week since the first article on human risk and the feedback has been more than interesting. Some believe that the management of human risk begins and ends with recruitment, retention and promotion, the traditional HR view of human risk. Others acknowledge that human risk goes beyond HR considerations but also believe that managing process risk is way more important than managing human risk.

This article will emphatically illustrate why both these assertions are wrong. Continue reading

Human Risk: The Bond Salesman That Wasn’t

No sooner had I launched a series of articles on Human Risk, the first of which can be accessed here, than I find this amazing story: Continue reading