Insurance:: GIAS “Phase II”– turning threat into opportunity

I should pay Warren Buffett a royalty (not that he needs it) for excessive use of this phrase:


“be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy”

But few can doubt that we are paying the price for greed. Whether we are all more fearful could be debated but we are, certainly, financially, socially and environmentally  “poorer” for the experience. Hopefully, we are “wiser”!?

For obvious reasons the financial sector is fearful of what the future holds for them because of the implications of new “mechanisms” that are intended to avoid a repeat of financial meltdown. One thing for sure is that, as much of the cost of increased regulation, falling or unpredictable margins, etc. will be passed on to customers.

How hard a sell will that be for “reputationally damaged” institutions that have, knowingly, abused the trust they once enjoyed???

How much more attractive will their actions (and subsequent inaction) make, innovative propositions, from existing competitors and new entrants look? Read more of this post

Complexity in FS: why trying to predict…is [still] futile

I thought it about time I revisited an article that s-p-e-l-l-s things out about as plainly as they possibly can be….

CxU=F…the ability of the system to adapt, often in completely unpredictable ways, means that you can’t model it and you can’t foresee the outcomes of any strategy of intervention. It’s all completely unknowable in advance. Once you accept this it becomes suddenly apparent that a huge swathe of modern finance is complete rubbish. For example, in a complex system you expect to see “tipping points” or phase transitions when the system suddenly and unpredictably switches from one stable state to another. As Caballero and Krishnamurthy have documented this appears to be exactly what happens during the episodes of liquidity hoarding and flights to quality associated with financial crises. People suddenly switch from a belief that they’re in a state where risk is measurable based on probability to one characterised by fear in the face of absolute uncertainty, so called Knightian uncertainty.

So, in the depths of the panic of 2008 we saw investors selling Collateralised Debt Obligations at almost any price largely because they didn’t know how to analyse them. What it looks like is that they bought these sub-prime backed securities because they’d been given the highest rating possible by the credit rating agencies. When some of these went bad the investors – many of them supposedly high powered institutions – belatedly recognised that they hadn’t got a clue about what they’d bought and sold, virtually at any price. One day they had nice risk models giving default probabilities, the next day they had junk.

via Complexity In Financial Systems: Why Trying To Predict The Next Crisis Is Futile | Timarr.

McKinsey:: strategy for the turbulent world of complexity and uncertainty

Click on image for report link

Globalization and technology are sweeping away the market and industry structures that have historically defined the nature of competition. Although the pace of change continues to accelerate, the fundamental transformations under way in the global economy have only just started. The variables that can profoundly influence success and failure are too numerous to count. That makes it impossible to predict, with any confidence, which markets a company will be serving or how its industry will be structured—even a few years hence.

The result is an economic environment that is rich in opportunity but also marked by a substantial increase in awareness of risk and aversion to it— a phenomenon reflected in the rise of risk premiums throughout the world even while the risk-free cost of capital remains low.

This is a very interesting report and, although more in-depth and from slightly different perspective, carries a broadly similar message to that, contained in a report from Boston Consulting Group, that I wrote about recently:

Adaptability: The New Competitive Advantage

Of course it is much easier to glibly talk about managing complexity and building resilience than it is to “do it”…especially without tools from Ontonix! We can also assist with identifying areas of weakness and strength within the organisation and its ecosystem.

It is vital that the operational and financial structure; IT; commitment, capacity and capabilities are aligned; sufficiently robust to underpin “sustainable transformation” and a resilient strategy, capable of creating opportunities from threats.

Read more of this post