Joe Pimbley（FRM持证人）是Maxwell Consulting公司的负责人。作为一名财务顾问，他的专长包括企业风险管理、结构化产品、衍生品，投资承保、培训和定量建模。 Joe在本文中分享了如何成为一名更好的风险经理，除了不断积累生活和工作经验、永远保持阅读的习惯之外，“想象力”也是无价之宝。
Does expertise in risk management require experience? Absolutely! All else equal, more experience is better. However, there’s more to this discipline than experience and, fortunately, “growing older” is not the only method to gain experience.
Living and Learning for Experience
Coursework, academic degrees, professional accreditations – they all help create “the expert you” as a risk manager. But living and learning on the job is necessary as well. How else do you know that “correlations go to 100%” in a crisis? It’s best to have lived through that event. You get no real impression when a professor (or this author!) merely makes that statement.
Here’s another lesson: you can’t really use liquidity facilities. As a much younger risk manager for an investment division of a larger firm, the operations guy told me we needed to send a $20 million wire to an investor. That struck me as a simple situation. We held more than enough Treasury securities that we could sell to generate the necessary cash.
However, my friend convinced me to draw on our liquidity line instead. He brought me the legal documents and convinced me we had the right to draw. We created a very angry liquidity lender!
I simply did not know that most liquidity facilities are not serious. The legal document says “draw funds with notice by 3 pm.” The unspoken agreement says “never draw funds.”
Start (and Never Stop) Reading
If you’ve ever had an extraordinary experience or otherwise learned something that struck you as amazing and important, you probably felt like sharing that experience or learning with others. Writing a book or article is arguably the best way to teach your experience.
Now paint this picture in reverse. There are many available books, articles and information sources (including Risk Intelligence!) that teach knowledge and tell stories that will make you a better risk manager. Indeed, you can gain the experience of others simply by investing hours in reading rather than years of your own life.
Reading good material yields “experience” far in excess of your years on the job. As just one colorful example, consider Nick Leeson’s Rogue Trader. Leeson created the fraud that destroyed Barings Bank in 1995. Years later, he wrote his book to tell us all how it happened.
One lesson I learned is that many financial professionals don’t (truly) understand futures trading! Leeson had told at least one colleague that he was wiring funds “as collateral” for the futures positions. In maintaining an open futures position, of course, what you’re really wiring is “yesterday’s losses” rather than “collateral!” Ignorance of a financial firm’s business details on the part of key employees is a huge risk.
Imagination as the Invaluable Ingredient
It’s not surprising to any of us that experience is valuable and that professional development – through reading, attending lectures and conferences, and another self-study – is critically important. This reminder of our common understanding prepares us for the next argument that risk imagination takes us further.
Here’s a story I’ve never told. Twenty years ago, a spring snowstorm delayed my morning commute to that job as a risk manager of an investment division. After shoveling the driveway and clearing a fallen tree, it was mid-morning by the time I arrived at the train station. Waiting for the next train, I had a few minutes to relax and appreciate the clear sky and bright sun over the white landscape.
As I peered out a large window from an elevated waiting area over the tracks and platform, something – I didn’t know what – struck me as odd. It took me a heartbeat or two to realize that a foot of snow covering an upper, sloped portion of the large window had drawn my eye. After a few more heartbeats, my brain then registered that the snow extended beyond the edge of the window slope. Again, as more seconds went by, I realized the snow was “cantilevered,” because it had been creeping imperceptibly down the slope of the upper window.
“Unique and beautiful!” I thought calmly, as I turned lazily to pace away from the window. A loud crashing noise then thundered behind me. It was that snow! It had all fallen in an instant to the platform below. Fortunately, nobody had been standing beneath it. Though the weight of the snow could not have injured anyone, it would have been dangerous to be startled while standing so close to train tracks.
The story’s moral is that there is risk in any “new and interesting” situation. When confronting a situation that is new to you, think it through carefully! When direct experience and your professional learning are unhelpful in the present, use imagination! The eyes could not see the snow’s ultra-slow motion, but my brain should have imagined what might happen next!
Immediate Need for Risk Imagination
On the one hand, the statement that “new situations are inherently risky” strikes one as trivial and obvious. Examples, of course, abound. With a new aircraft design, we hire test pilots to fly the new plane for thousands of miles rather than simply load the plane with paying customers on the first day. With new business ideas, we “start small” to test the market reaction and our firm’s ability to execute.
In these two simple examples, an important feature is that the person or business at risk exercises some control over the introduction of the new situation. Yet there are times when we seemingly “wake up” and find ourselves in a new place. For whatever reason, there appears to have been no intelligent, cautious “test-pilot phase” prior to the introduction of the novel scenario.
Let’s take “negative interest rate policy” (NIRP) as an example. Actions of global central banks have generated in excess of $10 trillion of negative-yield debt. There is no true precedent for such extreme bond yields on this scale. Hence, we do not have history to help persuade us that (1) this monetary policy will help rebuild economies (as the central bankers presumably hope); or (2) the damage of negative rates to personal, pension and insurance portfolios will destroy both wealth and economies of the future.
Most likely, the NIRP outcome will be neither of these two possibilities. Clearly, something will happen going forward and people will bicker about what caused that something. Senior risk managers of banks, pension funds and insurance companies must rely on imagination to determine what, if any, current actions and precautions will mitigate consequences of NIRP.