Maginot Risk Management

In the 1920’s, the French sought to protect themselves from future German invasions by building a wall across the most exposed route for such a tactic.

In the 1930’s, the Germans walked right around those fortifications and took France in short order.

Some financial firms have built Maginot Risk Management Systems. They consist of very fixed tests of risks and fixed processes for dealing with risks.

The US the Transportation Security Agency runs a Magniot Security system.   Everyone knows what the security system is going to be when they get to the airport.  So if anyone wants to get around it, it stays still or at best changes very slowly.

What is the alternative?  Something that is flexible and variable.  For security, what would happen if the airport security changed without notice, several times some days and not at all other weeks.  You never know when it will change and what they will want next.  Annoying to passengers, but probably infinitely more effective than the Maginot system now used.

And for risk management of a financial firm?  What it needed there is flexibility and variability.  The ability to look at things a number of different ways.  The ability to answer new questions quickly.  And the ability to ask new questions.

Not a system designed to prevent the last invasion.

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2 Comments on “Maginot Risk Management”

  1. riskviews Says:

    Sounds like one good step. But auditors work after the fact. Financial firms need risk management that tells them things to consider doing before the fact. The SSG report on the financial crisis http://www.newyorkfed.org/newsevents/news/banking/2009/SSG_report.pdf
    siad that there was a massive difference of the experience of banks that had flexible risk evaluation systems from banks that had inflexible systems.
    THe banks with inflexible systems were simply not able to ask any one off questions about their risks – the “what if” sort of questions.
    It is flexibility in risk system and most importantly in risk management THINKING that is needed.

  2. Riskczar Says:

    I suppose from a governance perspective don’t Financial organizations have to replace their auditors every two years? Does this change the risk management system (sort of)?


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