Risks of management referat


Marian Ionut

grupa 1016


Risk management.

A science or an art?

Strategies for identifying and measuring risk can help treasury personnel develop a sound diversification policy
Before a risk profile can be managed it must be identified. What is considered high risk by one entity may be considered the normal course of business by another entity. Appetite for risk-taking will vary not only between industries but also between management styles.

Once risk parameters have been identified a measurement system must be introduced.

'A man who travels a lot was concerned about the possibility of a bomb on board his plane. He determined the probability of this, found it to be low, but not low enough for him; so now, he always travels with a bomb in his suitcase. He reasons that the probability of two bombs being on board would be infinitesimal.'

Quote by John Paulos.

The man has taken a strategic approach to risk management: He has identified the risk(s), their nature, location and probability.

Likewise, a business or financial institution must balance its risk profile between financial risk and business risk. Senior management must decide how much business risk it can absorb and how much financial risk is appropriate. Senior management also has the responsibility of selecting the best mix between financial risk and business risk.

Business risk can be defined as risk arising from uncertainty about outlays and operating cash flows, without regard to how investments are financed. Financial risk is inherent in the movement of interest and foreign-exchange rates. It also includes the risk of liquidity or the inability to refinance debt.

Corporations will always absorb some incidental exposure. It occurs in the light of competitive pressure. An example would be sales contracts denominated in, say, exotic currencies, which are difficult to hedge and often fluctuate wildly. Another more dynamic situation is the challenge of designing a pricing structure to shift some risk from the end user. For example, the price of electricity could be linked to the movement of the price of tin for a tin-producing entity. Thus, if the price of tin decreased in the marketplace, the energy supplier would lower the price of electricity to assist the tin producer in times of reduced revenue streams. During the cycle, when the price of tin is firm and/or rising, the cost of the electricity will increase accordingly.

Reducing incidental exposure will increase the predictability of results. From an analyst's perspective, reduced exposure is likely to enhance value for the company, which will be reflected in its share price. In the absence of a market view or a trend pattern developing, management should hedge against incidental exposure.

Mismanagement of incidental exposure can lead to an escalation of risk which eventually will impact on the core business exposure. Core business exposures are those that will directly impact on the business, are well known to the shareholders and often commented upon by analysts.

An airline company, for example would have the price of oil per barrel as core exposure. Management, investors and analysts alike would all be aware what impact an increase of US$2.00 per barrel would have on the cash flow projections of the airline company, should the company be unhedged.

A further illustration would be the impact of volatile interest rates on the cash flows of a highly geared/leveraged company. If the company did not have fixed rate funding, rising interest rates could have a devastating impact on its expense base.

Changing the core business exposures may lead to results difficult for investors to predict. This in turn may lead to investors liquidating their holdings or potential investors holding back. For the company to simply hedge these exposures may not be appropriate. Untimely hedging is likely to result in the creation of a competitive advantage to the competitor(s) and a loss of profit for the company.

With regard to core exposure on-going analysis and management is required to determine the optimal result.

Least Risk Strategy
The least risk strategy is unlikely to be a no risk strategy, except for the most basic of business units.

The least risk strategy for a fund manager may be to invest in the terms of the ratios dictated by a certain performance index. On the other hand, the least risk strategy of a pension fund unit of a large corporate entity may be to simply keep all monies in financial instruments not exceeding a tenor of ninety days. It often transpires that the least risk strategy of a corporate entity is in the parameters of the strategic plan which they chose to implement. However, in most instances the strategic plan that is implemented is indicative of the amount of risk the company is willing to absorb - both business and financial.

Whatever the least risk strategy is defined to be for a specific business unit or entity, it will allow for a useful benchmark. Management will only deviate from the least risk strategy if there is a change in the business environmental conditions, or through competitive pressures or a change in market view.

A change in the business strategy will inevitably create a change in the risk profile. To assist management to measure and compare risk profiles the alternative strategies can be compared to the least risk strategy. This will determine whether the potential gain will justify the risk to be taken and it will also identify which of the alternative strategies would be implemented.

Thus the success of decisions to deviate from the benchmark can be measured retrospectively.

Diversifiable Risk and Undiversifiable Risk
It would be appropriate to determine how much risk can be diversified, if any at all.

As we are aware, when an investor increases the number of shares in a portfolio, the overall risk of that portfolio declines. At first, the decline is rapid and eventually tapers off to market risk.

The diversifiable portion of an investment portfolio of an investment portfolio is termed unsystematic risk. The systematic risk of a portfolio is that portion of the total risk which cannot be eliminated through diversification. This is the market related risk and arises from general economic conditions that are experienced by all investors.

Modern risk management technique is for managers to focus on systematic risk given that a diversified portfolio will negate unsystematic risk. This tends to imply that we should not concern ourselves with managing unsystematic risk, because the efforts will go unrewarded.

However, strategic management has unsystematic risk as a core focus to competitive advantage. Take the example of a raw material supplier whose patronized by a single large buyer. He can diversify some of this risk by implementing a marketing strategy to increase his target market thus reducing the reliance on the single purchaser.

Further, a multinational corporation with a variety of foreign currency receivable would do well to hedge (diversify) this risk by converting some of itís debt portfolio to currencies which complement itís receivable structure rather than maintain a single currency debt portfolio.

Portfolio Diversification
As the number of different securities/shares in a portfolio increase, the risk of the portfolio declines rapidly at first and then approaches the systematic risk of the market.

Systematic risk measures the level of non-diversifiable risk in an economy or specific market place.

A multinational company can be viewed as representing a portfolio of internationally diversified cash flows originating in a variety of countries and currencies. These cash flows are likely to be strongly influenced by foreign factors, factors specific to the host country, factors including exchange controls, political risk, the infrastructure and location. Therefore it would appear reasonable to suggest that investors may be able to achieve a degree of international diversification indirectly by investing the shares of the multinational corporations.

Effects of Exchange Rates
Studies have indicated that the US$/EURO and the US$/JPY exchange rates exhibit nearly as much volatility as their respective stock markets.

The return on a foreign investment will depend on the performance of the principal investment in terms of its local environment as specifically measured by its local currency. However, a change in the exchange rate between the local currency and the home/functional currency will also impact on the return of the investment.

Often the currency in which the foreign investment is placed will appreciate not only against the home/functional currency but against a broad range of currencies and concurrently the value of the shares listed on the local stock market appreciate. This concept is due to internationalistion. For example, assume that in the recent budget announcement a European nation has lowered the corporate tax rate significantly, therefore allowing for greater dividend payments by corporate entities.

Foreign investors, eager to maximize their returns will be keen to purchase shares of reputable companies listed on the countryís stock exchange. When a purchase order is placed with a broker payment must be made in the currency of the country in which the investment is to occur. Consequently, the investor must purchase the currency against the sale of his own currency. Demand for the foreign currency form investors around the world will result in the value of the currency appreciating. This demand side factor, will have the same impact on the value of the value of the shares, they will appreciate as demand outstrips supply.

Thus the relationship between share value appreciation concurrently with currency appreciation can be attributed to international demand pressure. Obviously, domestic demand for the scrip will have no bearing on the local currency appreciation.

Fluctuating exchange rates do indeed have the potential to reduce actual gains, thus rendering the foreign investment more risky. However, this is not an appropriate reason for avoiding international diversification.

The appropriate conclusion to be drawn is to assume that if the exchange rate uncertainty was absent, neutralized or controlled effectively, the potential gains to the overall value of the portfolio could have been greater.

Financial Risk
The four components to financial risk are interest rate risk, currency risk, liquidity risk and credit risk.

On occasion the impact of financial risk is obvious. For example, which of the following interest rate scenarios is the most risky for a highly geared/leveraged business entity?

(A) When interest rates are high and forecast to go higher.

(B) When interest rates are moderate and forecast to go lower.

(C) When interest rates are low and heading lower.

Clearly scenario (A) is the more risky.

Often the strategic impact of a rising interest rate environment is not appreciated until the consequences are of a great magnitude.

Take the case of the Building Society with a perfectly matched asset and liability book. That is to say, the Building Society only lends ninety days floating rate mortgages, is obliged to give the borrower thirty days notice of a rate change and is funded by ninety day assets. The concept being, if the ninety day rates increase, and consequently increase the Society's cost of funds this would be offsets by raising the interest rate on the mortgage. Admittedly the Society would have a thirty day risk in a rising interest rate market but this thirty day notice risk would neutralize during a period of falling interest rates.

Under the above scenario the impact of rising interest rates is not identified until the borrowers become financially restrained by a burdening interest expense and unable to service their mortgages.

The end result for the Building Society is that the ratio of non-performing assets on its books will increase with a negative impact on future cash flow.

The impact of such a scenario can be reduced by a pro-active hedging strategy. By securing fixed rate funding the Society is able to reduce its cost of funds and these gains could be set against erratic mortgage loan repayments.


Publication of The Canadian Treasurer – Claude Oberto (25 Dec 1997)


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