At Finexpo last week where I was moderating a panel session, the panel of experts representing Euroclear, LCH.Clearnet, SIS x-clear, LSE and the ECB were asked a question concerning the importance of cost
reduction or risk reduction? This question is obviously vitally important to the many financial institutions having to recover from the breakdown of their risk systems and in the current climate of reduced revenue and profits.
It is normal in the finance industry for a freeze to be made on costs and any planned projects will normally have taken a back seat whilst new priorities are established. Surely a leading priority will be to beef up or replace existing risk systems within
banks. To build a more secure management capability to realise what risks are being undertaken in financial products, customers, counterparties and markets and to fast track their implementation. All this should be acted upon without waiting for new laws and
regulations as business goes on and the need is great.
The answer from the panel was as expected. A reduction in costs and a reduction in risks were considered of equal importance. Here then lies the dichotomy for the market! It is of course unrealistic to think that systems can be changed to help reduce risk
without incurring the outlay of more costs and these costs will normally be passed down the chain and guess what, the customer will eventually have to pay. So with the current financial crisis reducing revenue and profits, where will the budgets be found to
implement the necessary solutions? So it is a catch 22 situation!
It is therefore worth the government reflecting on how else to assist the finance industry to recover and if more of tax payer's money will have to be assigned to changing systems. At least this looks a worthy cause and a better use of tax payer's money
rather than the payment of banking bonuses.