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Opinion

Macaskill on markets: Risk managers must be given power over investment bankers

The Lehman bankruptcy examiner’s report provides a timely reminder of how difficult it is for outsiders to gauge the risk management culture at an investment bank.

 

Jon Macaskill is one of the leading capital markets and derivatives journalists, with over 20 years’ experience covering financial markets from London and New York. Most recently he worked at one of the biggest global investment banks

Jon Macaskill is one of the leading capital markets and derivatives journalists, with over 20 years’ experience covering financial markets from London and New York. Most recently he worked at one of the biggest global investment banks

 

Hindsight has brought a consensus that Lehman and Bear Stearns represented Wall Street firms at their worst, where reckless trading heads ran roughshod over weak risk management controllers.

It is often forgotten that Lehman and Bear Stearns were both lauded by many for a supposedly superior ability to manage risk in the years running up to their failure in 2008.

Rating agencies proved gullible – as they did on other fronts. So did much of the media. But among the chilling details in the Lehman report were examples of the extent to which regulators such as the SEC and the Federal Reserve took nominally sophisticated risk management frameworks at face value.

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