The latest twists in the Paul Moore story (fascinating
memo in full on FT site) are extraordinary - and reinforces that risk management is central to one of the Great Credit Crunch Conundrums.
What were all the risk managers doing while all around them the Romans were piling up the firewood?
The recent KPMG survey highlights that they spent most of their time being frustrated at the lack of incentives, proper governance, risk culture and adequate tools to do their job.
Now that short-term survival is the order of the day, and firms are focused on spending less on anything and everything, or focused on new risk models and new regulation, one of the fundamentals of good risk management - a clean and consolidated underlying
data infrastructure - is in danger of being - once again - the bridesmaid never the bride.
Any risk management system is only going to be as good as the data feeding it. Without the right data, you are driving blindfolded or using the rear-view mirror.
Basic banking disciplines such as liquidity and risk management should be based on real-time consolidation of current and projected positions, and integrated with right-here right-now market and counterparty risk data. In order to be trusted, risk-relevant
data needs to be updated with new transactions, market data feeds and customer/counterparty updates without manual intervention or batch processing.
We need to accept that this is a hard thing to do right - a lot of time and resource is required. But right now, starting in an area where there is so much immediate pain - areas such as counterparty risk or liquidity management - must be the right thing
Time for a favourite Dr Johnson quote surely - "Men are generally idle, and ready to satisfy themselves, and intimidate the industry of others by calling that impossible which is only difficult."