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Water Newton, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom, 2008/09/29 - Bad debts can be avoided and compliance costs reduced by adopting a new approach to supporting those who make lending decisions.
The banking crisis and bailouts that have occurred on both sides of the Atlantic need not happen again if a new approach to managing risks is adopted according to Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas speaking in London at the Business Process Management Conference Europe 2008: “While Governments, regulatory bodies and other parties will all play their part the prime responsibility for taking appropriate action must lie with the boards of banks and other providers of loans and mortgages. The problem needs to be tackled at source, at the point at which lending decisions are taken.”
According to Coulson-Thomas, “The traditional approach to managing lending risk has failed. Either assessment has not occurred and caution has been thrown to the wind in the search for short term profits, bonuses and commissions or it has been costly and involved delays. Public reactions to the scale of losses, write offs and taxpayer exposure suggest continuing as before is not an option. Banks need to clean out their own stables and start again.”
Coulson-Thomas suggests: “Tightening up traditional approaches will add further to costs and delays. Checks, reviews and approvals all take time. Nervous directors may limit local discretion and require additional matters to be referred to senior staff or head offices for approval. Greater attention to policing and compliance could lead to an increase in red tape.”
Customers and the public might be affected in other ways. Coulson-Thomas warns: “Credit could dry up. There is a danger that mortgage providers will react against past excesses and endeavour to reduce risks by stopping certain lines of business rather than looking for new ways of ensuring that people secure arrangements that are right for them, and that all parties understand the risks involved.”
Coulson-Thomas believes: “Many bank and lending practices have been found wanting, but the lack of board and management awareness of the implications of slicing and dicing debt or the impact of a drop in property prices is staggering. People simply did not appear to understand the toxic nature of what was being brought onto their books. People in the front line were allowed to bring time bombs into their organisations.”
The Professor believes there are better ways of enabling people to understand complex financial instruments and assess related risks: “Pioneering companies equip their people to understand complex offerings, technologies and situations. At the same time they make it very easy for them to undertake difficult activities such as assessing default risks and quickly configuring a response that meets the financial requirements or other needs of an individual customer.”
In addition to improving understanding, the support some companies provide to make it easy for people to do difficult jobs addresses other causes of the current banking crisis. Coulson-Thomas explains: “Checks are built into the support given to key workgroups. Those using the new approach – for example to design a bespoke solution for a particular customer – could not generate a proposal that would involve miss-selling, an unacceptable credit risk or the breach of a regulatory requirement.”
Coulson-Thomas finds, “The implications for banks and lending decisions are clear. Companies are avoiding financial, technical, regulatory and other risks when responding to customers and prospects by using a new generation of cost-effective and easy to use support tools. Areas of risk can be addressed before outputs such as a proposal or loan offer are produced, and a return on investment of over 20 or 30 times - even over 70 times - an initial investment has been obtained in the first year alone.”
The reduction of risks and preventing a reoccurrence of recent events should be a prime concern of bank boards. Coulson-Thomas suggests: “Boards should ensure people are equipped to recognise risks and mitigate or negate their consequences. Support tools that focus upon known or likely problems can be distributed via a website or CD-ROM disc and easily updated. Their use can provide directors with compliance evidence that risks have been identified, assessed and addressed.”
Examples of how job support tools can be used in financial services and other sectors to reduce risks and make it very easy for average performers to adopt winning ways are given in Prof. Coulson-Thomas’ book ‘Winning Companies; Winning People, making it easy for average performers to adopt winning behaviours’ which is available from Policy Publications.
The Business Process Management Conference Europe 2008 is being held from 29th September to 1st October at the Waldorf Hilton in London. Prof. Coulson-Thomas’ talk on the theme of winning BPM strategies will look at new approaches to avoiding risks, reducing stress, cutting compliance costs and increasing performance. Details of courses explaining how the approach he advocates can be applied to key corporate activities can be obtained from Adaptation Ltd.
Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, an active consultant and experienced chairman of award winning companies, is the author of ‘Developing Directors’, ‘The Knowledge Entrepreneur’, ‘Developing a Corporate Learning Strategy’ and ‘Winning Companies: Winning People’. He has reviewed the processes and practices for winning business of over 100 companies, helped over 100 boards to improve board and/or corporate performance, and spoken at over 200 national, international and corporate conferences in over 35 countries.