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MGT604 - Management of Financial Institutions - Lecture Handout 43

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The Collapse of ENRON

Only months before Enron Corporations bankruptcy filing in December 2001, the firm was widely regarded as one of the most innovative, fastest growing, and best managed businesses in the United States. With the swift collapse, shareholders, including thousands of Enron workers who held company stock in their 401(k) retirement accounts, lost tens of billions of dollars. Investigations of wrongdoing may take years to conclude, but Enron’s failure already raises financial oversight issues with wider applications. This lecture briefly examines the accounting system that failed to provide a clear picture of the firm’s true condition, the independent auditors and board members who were unwilling to challenge Enron’s management, the Wall Street stock analysts and bond raters who missed the trouble ahead, the rules governing employer stock in company pension plans, and the unregulated energy derivatives trading that was the core of Enron’s business. Formed in 1985 from a merger of Houston Natural Gas and Inter-north, Enron Corporation was the first nationwide natural gas pipeline network. Over time, the firm’s business focus shifted from the regulated
transportation of natural gas to unregulated energy trading markets. The guiding principle seems to have been that there was more money to be made in buying and selling financial contracts linked to the value of energy assets (and to other economic variables) than in actual ownership of physical assets. Until late 2001, nearly all observers – including
professional Wall Street analysts – regarded this transformation as an outstanding success. Enron’s reported annual revenues grew from under $10 billion in the early 1990s to $101 billion in 2000, ranking it seventh on the Fortune 500. Several committees in the House and Senate have held or plan to hold hearings related to Enron’s fall. The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation. The challenge for financial oversight, however, does not depend on findings of wrongdoing. Even if no one at Enron did anything improper, the swift and unanticipated collapse of such a large corporation suggests basic problems with the U.S. system of securities regulation, which is based on the full and accurate disclosure of all financial information that market participants need to make informed investment
decisions.

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MGT604 - Management of Financial Institutions - Lecture Handout 41

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DFIs & Risk Management

Risks are usually defined by the adverse impact on profitability of several distinct sources of uncertainty. While the types and degree of risks an organization may be exposed to depend upon a number of factors such as its size, complexity business activities, volume etc, it is believed that generally the banks face Credit, Market, Liquidity, Operational,
Compliance / legal / regulatory and reputation risks. Before overarching these risk categories, given below are some basics about risk Management and some guiding principles to manage risks in banking organization.

Risk Management

Risk management is the human activity which integrates recognition of risk, risk assessment, developing strategies to manage it, and mitigation of risk using managerial resources. The strategies include transferring the risk to another party, avoiding the risk, reducing the negative effect of the risk, and accepting some or all of the consequences of a
particular risk. Some traditional risk managements are focused on risks stemming from physical or legal causes (e.g. natural disasters or fires, accidents, death and lawsuits). Financial risk management, on the other hand, focuses on risks that can be managed using traded financial instruments. Objective of risk management is to reduce different risks
related to a pre-selected domain to the level accepted by society. It may refer to numerous types of threats caused by environment, technology, humans, organizations and politics. On the other hand it involves all means available for humans, or in particular, for a risk management entity (person, staff, and organization). In every financial institution of
Pakistan, risk management activities broadly take place simultaneously at following different hierarchy levels.

  • Strategic level: It encompasses risk management functions performed by senior management. For instance definition of risks, ascertaining institutions risk appetite, formulating strategy and policies for managing risks and establish adequate systems and controls to ensure that overall risk remain within acceptable level and the reward compensate for the risk taken.
  • Macro Level: It encompasses risk management within a business area or across business lines. Generally the risk management activities performed by middle management or units devoted to risk reviews fall into this category.
  • Micro Level: It involves ‘On-the-line’ risk management where risks are actually created. This is the risk management activities performed by individuals who take risk on organization’s behalf such as front office and loan origination functions. The risk management in those areas is confined to following operational procedures and guidelines set by management.

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