Category Archives: Banking

JP Morgan Whale Trade Losses: Important Lessons For Auditors And Risk Professionals

Some more information has come to light on the more than $7 billion “Whale Trade” derivative losses at JP Morgan—that total being comprised of an amount of over $6 billion in losses on the trade and a further amount of almost $1 billion in fines.

In an article on Bloomberg entitled JP Morgan’s Biggest Mistake, author William D Cohan provides us with somewhat of an insider’s overview on the problems that led to the Whale Trade losses—his sister-in-law sat on the Audit Committee. This article summarises some of Cohan’s main points and identifies the lessons that auditors and other risk professionals should be learning in order to avoid making similar mistakes. Continue reading

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The New Paradigm: Major Central Banks Don’t Fail

Warren Buffet has called the Federal Reserve, the US central bank, “The Greatest Hedge Fund In History”.  That is because the Fed as it is commonly known has persisted in printing money and buying $85 billion in bonds each month in order to artificially support the US and by extension the global financial markets.

This is quite possibly the recipe for another financial disaster. Continue reading

The top five unlearned lessons of the financial crisis

The above entitled article on Reuters was written by Bethany McLean, one of the authors of the book “The Smartest Guys In The Room”, which eventually became an Academy Award nominated documentary about the wiles of Enron.

The article makes for exceptional reading and is a must for those involved with the banking industry and especially those involved in risk, audit, finance and compliance. I highly recommend it to all. Please use the link below to access it.

The top five unlearned lessons of the financial crisis

Are We On The Verge Of Another Financial Crisis?

Are we on the verge of another financial crisis?

It is a question well worth asking as the prices of stocks and property have been sky high by central bankers flooding the markets with cheap money.

What should risk professionals do?

The first question for risk managers, internal auditors and finance professionals is; how much of the cheap and plentiful liquidity provided by Quantitative Easing, or QE as it is known, has gone into inflating asset prices—stocks, bonds and housing?

The second question is: how far will asset prices fall when the Fed and the Bank of England start to “taper” or reduce their QE and how will that impact my institution? Continue reading

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