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Rating the New Risks

How trading hazards affect enterprise risk management at utilities.

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2007

most likely remain volatile.

Most risk models and managers seek to measure and manage expected events, but more emphasis should go to protecting from surprises. Risk managers should have tools in place to respond quickly to predictable surprises with the magnitude of the fall of Enron and Amaranth and the Katrina floods. Management that fails to take action to prevent predictable surprises could experience rating downgrades.

Keeping risk across the enterprise at manageable levels can be done if a company institutes a strong risk-management infrastructure, maintains a stable management structure, long-term goals, risk tolerance levels commensurate with its ability to manage those risks, strong internal policies, procedures, and controls, transparency, and strong corporate governance.

However, no risk model is perfect. How good a company’s risk management is depends a great deal on the commitment of senior management, and whether sufficient budget and resources are allocated, to create and implement good firm-wide systems, improve technology, and hire and retain the right people.