Commentaries and insightful analyses on the world of finance, technology and IT.

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The Waiting Line Conundrum

14.28% of your life is an awful lot of time to be spent loathing, I thought as I was driving to work, on a Monday morning. Despite my Le(a)d (Zeppelin) foot affliction, a biker managed to keep pace through the highway. Cometh the city, he zipped ahead, wriggled through the traffic...till he got boxed in a corner, as I sped away gazing through my rear-view mirror. Inching closer to work (place), got me thinking, isn't that how most software products have b(f)oxed their customers?

Risk Management has traditionally been 'Compliance' coloured, which has painted the software in the shade of 'Products'. With our local weather channel dude not being able to foretell a day's weather, how could we predict black swans and accompanying regulatory reactive?  The funny thing with probability (for high impact items) is that, we have to end up planning for it, no matter how minimal the likelihood! The question remains, did the organisations plan for Basel III? Well, majorly for changes to their risk management system...

Years back, when the action started in this space, custom developed applications were obviously not the way to go - Clunky as the 'car', not set-up for success and besides did not offer the swift go-to-market and "clone the Basel handbook" advantage as the canned software product 'bikes'. However, swiftness doesn't mean much in the Basel 'box' - You could be waiting on your product vendor to support Basel 'n+1'. I did speak about a best of both worlds approach, kind of like a Batpod, you know rip through those cars in your way!    

These decisions involve a tough choice, like for instance, selecting a regular or an express check-out lane at the supermarket. While there are a variety of factors to consider; contrary to popular belief, the regular lane (less people, more items per person) is quicker than its counterpart (more people, less items per person). A study identifies the hidden culprit as the 'tender time' - 48 seconds for every additional customer translates to 17 additional items scanned at 2.8 seconds per item. Plus, I would assume the "Express" lane naming convention and the halo effect of people flocking to it have accentuated this misconstrued belief. Sounds familiar? Any which way, such amount of thought and reasoning is required when determining the IT strategy for Risk Management. The vendor non-dependency of these new-age componentized products transforms regulatory (or pretty much most) change(s) into a simple configuration affair. You can cut short entire enhancement / product release lifecycles, needless to say, the cost. You could argue that there are huge timelines for adoption of the new(er) accords, however these are better spent on realigning business - IT should scale to support business, rather than being expended upon to make-scale for business.

Extensive configurability, ability to piggyback upon existing IT investments, knack of jazzing up on upgrades to the piggybacked, infrequent need for enhancements to the 'core', elimination of vendor dependency, variety of interfaces; all clearly point to these componentized product frameworks being the better approach, unless of course Chief John Anderton starts a 'Pre-Basel' team.

P.S. I love going to work on a Monday morning. Drive Safe.


I think its just a concept of evolution and financial markets are a perfect example. The economic cycles of highs and lows are just to make the system more mature and asking for a need of Bsel n+1.

Precisely. While Basel regulations need refining as the financial ecosystem grows and matures; risk management has become hopelessly "restricted" to Basel norms. Intertwining of Risk Management to Basel is fine, restriction is not. This is what has created problems with the current crop of "Products" that probably assumed that Basel wouldn't evolve or change so much, which the crisis proved wrong. Infact, for most part, the crisis proved that Basel was not adequate as risk management framework, which it was wrongly taken to be, as compliance assumed higher importance than "active risk management". Having said that Basel has evolved to support the current environment and in the wake of need compliance and anticipated future evolution on account of maturity of financial markets, it only makes sense that IT needs to move beyond vendor-dependent rigid products to more flexible options, like the one illustrated above.

Very true, its like a first mover disadvantage. Risk Management has become incongruously linked with compliance and the products carried forward this idea. At least now, I completely concur that organisations should start looking at such new avenues, given that further iterations of Basel are a possibility, rather almost a certainty...Better late than never

Mayank - What the author is mentioning is about the technology stack to keep up with the changes in Basel, not just the latter independently. Infact, the first hyperlink in the post takes you to his previous blog where he has talked about the need and un-avoidability of Basel n+1

@ Vikram, this is a very novel and rational point for organisations to think about when they make software investments. Well said. What would be your thoughts on the cloud approach in this scheme of things, given that it's quite a hot topic now.

@ Mayank, risk management is beyond a simple 'financial market evolution'. For instance, in a new payment standard comes in, that can be termed evolution in that the organisation is allowed a reactive approach in adapting to it. But, with risk mgmt (given that Basel is used as the go-to guide), organisations would encounter losses if they were to wait for Basel norms to be revised. Point in question, is the crisis itself. So, its way more complex than what you have stated.

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