House of Cards

We are in dire straits — no doubt about it. Our banks and financial edifices are collapsing. Those left standing also look shaky. Financial industry as a whole is battling to survive. And, as its front line warriors, we will bear the brunt of the bloodbath sure to ensue any minute now.

Ominous as it looks now, this dark hour will pass, as all the ones before it. How can we avoid such dark crises in the future? We can start by examining the root causes, the structural and systemic reasons, behind the current debacle. What are they? In my series of posts this month, I went through what I thought were the lessons to learn from the financial crisis. Here is what I think will happen.

The notion of risk management is sure to change in the coming years. Risk managers will have to be compensated enough so that top talent doesn’t always drift away from it into risk taking roles. Credit risk paradigms will be reviewed. Are credit limits and ratings the right tools? Will Off Balance Sheet instruments stay off the balance sheet? How will we account for leveraging?

Regulatory frameworks will change. They will become more intrusive, but hopefully more transparent and honest as well.

Upper management compensation schemes may change, but probably not much. Despite what the techies at the bottom think, those who reach the top are smart. They will think of some innovative ways of keeping their perks. Don’t worry; there will always be something to look forward to, as you climb the corporate ladder.

Nietzsche may be right, what doesn’t kill us, may eventually make us stronger. Hoping that this unprecedented financial crisis doesn’t kill us, let’s try to learn as much from it as possible.



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