Tag Archives: Merrill Lynch

Why Focusing On Bank Risk Culture Is Meaningless

The following is the third in a series of articles on bank risk culture. The previous articles can be accessed on the blog here.

In the previous articles we argued that it is futile if not impossible to separate the risk culture of an institution from the other aspects of culture within it. This article further develops this assertion by looking at some very specific examples of how banks got into trouble during the subprime crisis and why, in each case, only focusing on risk culture would have been totally inadequate.

In a January 2009, The Economist wrote an article on Citigroup entitled “A House Built on Sandy”, a less than veiled reference to the bank’s former CEO Sandy Weill and its troubles during the financial crisis. The article did not pull any punches and here are just a few of the statements it made: Continue reading

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TBTF Means TBTM (Too Big To Manage) Part II

Banks that are too big to fail or TBTF are by definition also too big to manage or TBTM. In Part II of the series we look at the role played by the growth of products and markets in this phenomenon. Part I can be found here.

What is it about the industry that makes banks so susceptible to becoming TBTM or too big to manage? As noted in Part I, egos and megalomania do play a significant part. However, they are definitely not the whole story.

For many bankers, performance is synonymous with size. Bankers take it as gospel that the greater their share of a particular product market, the greater the profits to be earned from that market. It is obvious that such a proposition does not necessarily hold true.

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