Turning a Blind-eye Toward Risks

For those of you who have been following The ERM Current,  you may recall the post “Show Me the Money and I’ll Show You the Risks”.  In that post, the main advice centered on the need to examine incentive structures to determine where excessive risk-taking may be occurring.  As the current financial crisis continues to unfold, the excessive risk-taking driven by grandiose incentives is becoming more and more evident.  Yesterday, the New York Times featured an article on this very topic.   Below is an excerpt from the article,

“Compensation was flawed top to bottom,” said Lucian A. Bebchuk, a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert on compensation. “The whole organization was responding to distorted incentives.” Even Wall Streeters concede they were dazzled by the money. To earn bigger bonuses, many traders ignored or played down the risks they took until their bonuses were paid. Their bosses often turned a blind eye because it was in their interest as well.  “That’s a call that senior management or risk management should question, but of course their pay was tied to it too,” said Brian Lin, a former mortgage trader at Merrill Lynch.

To be effective, risk management must have the authority and the independence to adjust incentive programs based on the risk appetite of the organization.  If risk managers are participating in the very incentive programs that they are charged with overseeing, then a blind-eye will always be turned toward excessive risk-taking.


About Wheelhouse Advisors
Wheelhouse Advisors LLC is the publisher of The ERM Current™, an online publication and blog dedicated to providing the latest updates on current trends in Enterprise Risk Management & Control. Wheelhouse Advisors provides cost-effective Enterprise Risk Management & Control solutions to both large and mid-size corporations. To learn more about Wheelhouse Advisors, please visit our web site at www.WheelhouseAdvisors.com.

One Response to Turning a Blind-eye Toward Risks

  1. Pingback: Turning a Blind-eye Toward Risks – Revisited « The ERM Current™

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