Hit by Crisis, Asia Wakes Up to Risk Management

Manila Bulletin, September 24, 2009 | Go to article overview

Hit by Crisis, Asia Wakes Up to Risk Management


TOKYO, Sept. 24 (Reuters) – A year ago, when Shinsei Bank Chairman Masamoto Yashiro was asked why Japanese banks had been able to avoid the worst of the financial crisis, he dismissed it as something akin to a lucky break.Since the crisis, Shinsei and other companies across Asia have been trying to take luck out of the equation. They are investing in computer systems and strengthening internal controls to improve their ability to identify and mitigate risk.Asian companies were not at the heart of what triggered the crisis, but they were blindsided by the fallout, from banks booking heavy losses on asset-backed securities to manufacturers having difficulty raising funds after credit markets seized up.The troubles faced in Asia in part reflect a relatively cavalier attitude to managing risk, especially in fast-growing economies like South Korea, says Duncan Martin, a partner at Boston Consulting Group.''It's not uncommon for companies in high growth economies, high growth environments, to not really worry too much about risk management because they are so focused on growth, and you can grow your way out of a lot of problems,'' Martin said.''People are now thinking a bit more carefully about the balance between growth and risk.''Japanese banks sidestepped the crippling losses that befell Wall Street not because of superior risk management but because they were still dealing with the legacy of the country's economic bubble and were not at the forefront of investment banking.But they did not escape the crisis unscathed.Along with other financial institutions in Asia, they lapped up asset-backed securities they believed were safe because they had been endorsed by the ratings agencies. …

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