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The chief risk officer: it’s not just about managing risk costs anymore

As many banks CEOs, especially in Europe, are still struggling to make their institutions profitable, could it be that turning to the chief risk officer can be part of the solution?

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Risk: for such a sexy word – and one that serves as the very engine of financial markets – the role of chief risk officer (CRO), on the face of it, doesn’t sound exciting.

However, the position of CRO has changed significantly in the past two decades, and CROs are now playing a fundamental, money-making role at the world’s big banks.

Keeping fines and potentially even criminal investigations at bay might be critical to a bank’s bottom line. So, too, is modelling and monitoring credit and market risks.

But risk departments, in particular CROs, have taken on more and more responsibilities over the years, especially in the wake of the financial crisis.

“Twenty years ago, CROs were generally responsible for credit and market risk,” Paul Ingram, CRO of Credit Suisse International, tells Euromoney.

That list has since grown exponentially, especially since the implementation of Basel II in the noughties. Operational risk developed was yanked from a vague set of largely unquantifiable “other” risks and turned into a discipline – one carrying with it quantifiable consequences in the form of capital requirements and fines for non-compliance.

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