Sunday, February 16, 2014

Looking back on the Amsterdam conference

The two day risk conference called OpRiskWorld was an inaugural effort with an unusual format and an extremely diverse group of participants from the banking and regulatory world.  It was the brainchild of a company called RiskBusiness, publisher of the magazine The Risk Universe, for which I write four times a year. 

The magazine is in fact being published late this month so that a report on the conference can be published, and I will try to be sure to post it here when available.  But first, the format:  each session had a topic and up to three panelists, with each session moderated by South Afrikaner Mike Finlay.  Panelists ranged from authors to academics, an industrial psychologist, bankers, modelers and regulators, all focused in their work on the field of operational risk.

No session lasted more than 45 minutes, eliminating the pontification factor.  Each panelist had roughly 5 minutes to speak, then the panel was quizzed by Finlay, before being turned over to the audience for additional questions.It worked amazingly well.  Of course some sessions ran over, but that time was made up in other ways by resizing networking breaks.  No one dozed off, and 1-2 slide power points were used only twice.

From left: Risk Business International CEO Mike Finlay, myself, and Howard Stein.
The other factor that made the conference discussions so invigorating were the countries represented.  There were a few of us from the United States, but other countries well represented included England, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Switzerland.  The variety of perspectives made the conference especially unique.

I spoke in the last session of the conference, along with Howard Stein, who retired in 2004 as managing direction of operational risk for Citigroup's Global Corporate and Investment Bank, and who continues to work around the world on operational risk banking issues.  Our topics were two:  the "living will" specification for large banks in the

Dodd-Frank legislation; and the "too big to regulate, too big to fail" theme that persists in most extended discussions of the banking industry.  More on that in my next blog post, or the report from the conference if it is covered there.

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