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Financial Strategy, Second Edition by Devendra Kodwani, Martin Upton, Janette Rutterford

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Section 4

Adding Value through Risk Management

SECTION OVERVIEW

Martin Upton

When I joined the treasury of a major UK financial services company in 1987 there were no risk managers in the division. The treasury was staffed by the dealers in the “front office” and a small “back office” team. The division employed only one primitive computer system. This provided a valuation of the holdings of government securities, which constituted only a small proportion of the total assets held in the company's investment portfolio.

At the end of trading each day the front office staff helped out the back office team by manually updating portfolio records and valuations. A PC-based valuation model was introduced a few months after I joined, albeit programmed by one of the dealers!

The world had changed seventeen years later when I left the company. The treasury division then had a large risk management department (known as the “middle office”) with staff numbers matching those in the front office. The division also had its own legal and compliance team. Strict segregation of duties applied: front office staff were denied free access to the middle and back offices by the introduction of key card systems. The front office reciprocated by similarly controlling access to the dealing room by the middle and back office staff. Remuneration levels for middle office staff were rising to match those of the dealers. Extensive use of treasury computer systems was made to ensure correct market valuations ...

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