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Friday, June 25, 2010

Banks & Bullets: Maybe They Dodged One - But Still Needs Some Silver Ones!

Posted by John Bates

By now you’ve probably seen that a deal was reached this morning by the House and Senate on regulation. Some would say it waters down provisions from the tougher Senate bill, limiting rather than prohibiting banks to trade derivatives and invest in hedge funds. This articles describes it as banks “dodging a bullet” http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-06-25/banks-dodged-a-bullet-as-u-s-congress-dilutes-trading-rules.html


We applaud the superhuman efforts put into the new financial regulation bill by the U.S. Congress and the House of Representatives. However, as I’ve said many times, transparency and consistency are critical to successful regulation in the capital markets. One could be forgiven for fearing that the watering down of the regulations, including the Volcker Rule, may create more havoc rather than increase transparency and consistency.


One thing is for sure – there’s going to be a raising of the priority on handling the complexity and requirement for real-time risk and surveillance within institutions. Risk managers and C-level executives concerned about minimizing risk and maximizing capital will need to view trading positions and limits across the firm, including, if permitted, derivatives that are 'spun out'. Ideally the risks should be aggregated and analyzed, in real-time, giving the ability to detect and prevent “accidents”. Pre-trade risk management will be increasingly important, as firms seek to maintain capital requirements at all times.


A top-down approach to risk where managers can see, in a single view on a dashboard, the risks across all asset class silos has gone from a “nice to have” to high on the wishlist – but many still wonder if it actually possible. Continual monitoring of trades in real-time can help to prevent exceeding trading limits, prevent mistakes and catch market abuse.

p.s. Many thanks to all the comments from market practitioners who comment that technology can't solve all the problems for Regulators, Banks and Trading Venues. I completely agree! But we can go a lot further than what happens right now. But of course technology is only one of the approaches. Changes in regulation is another, as is increased transparency, improved reporting (e.g. from fax to real-time data!) etc. etc. 


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