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Archegos Capital? Not ringing any bells…

Most speakers at Isda’s annual meeting avoided mentioning the Archegos Capital Management blow-up. IOSCO head Ashley Alder didn’t get the memo.

Photo: iStock

Ranulph Fiennes, the polar explorer, provided comic relief on the first day of the virtual annual general meeting of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (Isda).

After veering dangerously close to cancellation territory on Monday, with anecdotes about meeting his wife and discussing a bank robbery while in the UK’s Special Air Service, he finally delivered some tips on expedition planning: “You need an office.”

And what to look for in a deckhand: “You should have a black beard.”

He then summed up his approach to fundraising: “You’ve got to do clever stuff with simple stuff.”

This is a lesson that has arguably never been learned by the derivatives industry, which periodically causes a stir by doing stupid stuff with complicated stuff.

The recent blow-up of Bill Hwang’s fund Archegos Capital Management was a good example of this, as he used total return swaps on concentrated equity positions to run through his own money and leave his bankers with around $10 billion of losses from their prime brokerage units.

Isda appointed a board member in June 2016 who could have provided insight into this debacle and how to avoid similar disasters in the future.