Superman (Or Woman), Needed Everywhere

January 9th, 2018 by James Atkinson

Regardless of the era, we all remember the "Superman" character. Everyone was looking for the identity of who was actually Superman. It was good old Clark Kent, always there to save the day and Lois Lane.

Be it the public sector or private, we all really need Superman (that individual with the super powers of sight and hearing, as well as varied insight and skill, who hopefully can circumvent whatever trouble is about to head our way regardless of political or "meeting competition" obstacles thrown in his or her way). We might say we don't this person as it "costs too much" but in reality, we do need Superman.

In banks, Superman is the Chief Risk Officer. We need and have always needed him functioning and ready to change into the cape at a moment's notice, we just didn't always know it. However, had he been in the office with "Clark Kent" the "every few years" crisis in the industry might have been averted.

Just as the Superman role and character changed over the decades, so has the state role of the Chief Risk Officer, but not really the function. This is the person that should be at the focal point of everything, balancing changing risks into the processes of the institution's goals and plans relative to the long term continuance of the institution or not. Individual areas of the bank are by nature focused on their own individual areas. Executive management is concentrated on new and varied products and services to increase revenue (which bring new and different types of risk), tighter margins, tougher competition from traditional and non-traditional banking service providers, getting the institution itself on the market or buying other institutions. Yet the Chief Risk Officer is focused on pulling everything together within the umbrella of ultimate plan for the institution.

The Chief Risk Officer should focus on all risk areas of the financial institution. The duties should include but not be limited to the following items:

  • Must be aware of the flow of compliance within the political spectrum, balancing that to the litigation risks relative to consumer protection related issues even during the times when the political climate changes the focus on compliance.
  • The officer must always be aware of and mindful of Credit Quality Risks and ensure Credit Quality periodic and other monitoring tasks occur to ensure Credit Quality is not sacrificed to meet increased competition, book a volume of origination fees and/or increase individual bonuses.
  • The duties of the officer must include working diligently with the Information Systems side of the bank to endure efforts remain concentrated on Information Systems/Cybersecurity related risk.
  • A focus needs to be placed on the Complaint Process relative to internal, external, and third party vendor complaints to enable monitoring of the institution's Reputation Risk.
  • The Chief Risk Officer should be at the forefront on the Audit and Monitoring Processes, even the Annual Audit in terms of quality and changing processes based on changes in External Auditing standards.
  • Needs to ensure Internal Controls are not sacrificed and Internal Fraud Monitoring occurs.

The list continues.

Well, I have fully solved the identity question in terms of who is Superman. The question is does one of the office doors in your institution read "Clark Kent"? If not, the day may come that you wish it had.