Wanted: Business Expertise

Artificial intelligence can be expensive and tricky to implement. Is it worth the trouble?  Two organizations recently decided to pose the question to those who were working in financial institutions. “Due to budget constraints, a company might not always be able to apply artificial intelligence. But, to those who can, the benefits have become clear,” said Mahdi Amri, Partner and National AI Services Leader, Canada at Omnia, which is the artificial intelligence practice at Deloitte. On January 24, 2019, Amri was the second of two panellists who discussed early results of a joint survey by SAS and the Global Association […]

Operationalizing A.I.

How pervasive is the use of artificial intelligence in the field of financial risk management? What are the key challenges in AI implementation over the next two to three years? These issues were examined in early 2019 via the webinar, Operationalizing AI and Risk in Banking, sponsored by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP). “We found exceptionally high rates of AI usage among survey respondents,” said Katherine Taylor, Senior Data Scientist at the software company SAS. On January 24, 2019, Taylor was the first of two panellists who presented a “sneak peek” at a joint survey by SAS and […]

A Tale of Two Funds

There are helpful and unhelpful models for determining risk-based profit attribution, according to Michael B. Miller, founder and CEO, Northstar Risk. This is part 2 of his explanation about how to attribute financial performance, given at a webinar sponsored by the Global Association of Risk Professionals on June 20, 2018. Miller gave an example of two funds. Fund A contains both long and short assets, is market neutral and generates positive alpha. Fund B is a macro fund that is market dependent and whose manager is correct 54 percent of the time. The returns of Funds A and B look very […]

Risk-Based Profit Attribution

“Even the best portfolio managers have bad years due to macroeconomic factors beyond their control,” said Michael B. Miller, founder and CEO, Northstar Risk, to an audience of financial risk professionals. This is Part 1 of his talk about how to attribute performance for financial management at a webinar sponsored by the Global Association of Risk Professionals on June 20, 2018. “We tend to view measurement of risk and performance as separate tasks, but performance can only be fully understood by taking risk into account,” Miller said. Performance is always evaluated relative to something else, such as “the market”—which commonly taken […]

Origins of Canadian Banking

The financial crisis of 2007-2008 triggered a worldwide recession. The American and European banking systems experienced massive losses, takeovers, and taxpayer-funded bailouts.  Lehman Brothers, Northern Rock, European debt crisis, … and the after-effects are still being felt. Canada’s banking system did have some shaky moments, as a recently published analysis of its asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) predicament showed. On the whole, however, Canada’s banks withstood the financial crisis relatively well and the financial system maintained its liquidity, solvency, and profitability.   The history of the divergence in the Canadian and American banking systems is recounted in a new book. From […]

Volatility Clustering

When looking at stock market time series, one notices immediately a certain “jitter” or “noise” in the daily returns. This is ordinary volatility. Every once in a while, volatility becomes higher and stays that way—for a while. “Volatility clustering occurs when the volatility of the returns becomes correlated from one day to another,” said Attilio Meucci, CEO and founder of Advanced Risk and Portfolio Management (ARPM). He was the sole presenter at the May 11, 2017, webinar on Modeling and Forecasting Volatility Clustering sponsored by the Global Association of Risk Professionals. Meucci began by showing an example of volatility clustering […]

Central Clearing Design

If you had to design a central clearinghouse for transactions in financial markets, what size of guarantees should be offered? And what percentage fees should be charged? “The central clearing modifies the market,” said Andreea Minca, “because the old network structure [of one-to-one] is changing to a new ‘star’ structure.” Minca is Assistant Professor at the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering at Cornell University and was the sole presenter at the December 6, 2016, webinar on systemic risk and central clearing design to members of the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP). Under new US legislation, all over-the-counter […]

Data Science 2. The Roadmap

“The core concept for data science is hypothesis testing,” said Nima Safaian, team lead for Trading Analytics at Cenovus Energy. The data scientist must identify trends, generate hypotheses, and test, test test. The scientist’s bent toward hypothesis testing should be even stronger than their math skills. Safaian was speaking at the Data Science webinar on August 2, 2016, sponsored by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP). “Attitude is everything,” Safaian said. “Think like a startup. Have an agile mindset,” he urged, referring to the books The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and The Lean Enterprise by Humble, Molesky, and […]


What does the client want to see on the landing page of an automated wealth management website?  Four panellists at the digital wealth management (a.k.a. robo-advisor) session of the Financial Technology conference held on June 17, 2016, had theories on how to connect with clients. The session was part of a one-day conference organized by the CFA Society Toronto and was held at the Toronto Board of Trade. Three of the panellists showed screen shots from their companies’ websites and spoke about underlying philosophies on client usage; the fourth panellist works for a company that provides “back end”, namely, the […]

Mega-Platforms, Mega Risk

There’s a world of difference between innovation and disruption. “Think of innovation as doing more, in the same old way,” said Haydn Shaughnessy, innovation specialist and author of Platform Disruption Wave: How the Platform Economy is Changing the World. He presented a GARP webinar on “The Rise of Mega-Platforms and the Risks to Banking” on May 25, 2016. In the first part of his talk, he described mega-platforms. He referred to the thesis of The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton Christensen. This book argues that successful companies get so caught up in meeting […]