Introducing our risk management team: Shamik Ghosh
In the latest in our series of profiles introducing members of A&O Consulting's risk team, we meet executive director and team lead Shamik Ghosh who specialises in large transformations, and first line risk and controls.
Shamik Ghosh's past experience as a regulator and banker informs much of his client work. He describes his role as helping the senior management of financial institutions to align their regulatory and business strategies, either through large-scale transformation projects or via commercially focused incremental improvements.
“When I was a banker, one question I always asked myself when there was a consultant in the room was whether they really understood what it was like to be in my shoes,” says Shamik. “Likewise, from a regulatory perspective we always need to focus on what the regulator is concerned about and what they are looking for.”
Drawing on those insights helps Shamik to forge a close working relationship with his clients. “We can have meaningful conversations about what worries them on a specific topic and explore the ramifications of what they see in the industry,” he says.
With a focus on management of non-financial risk for the front office in investment banks, Shamik's primary expertise is in operational, conduct and regulatory risks.
“I help banks answer questions such as: 'If there is a new regulation, how do we need to change the way we operate?' 'What is the best operating model to ensure our business strategy remains in line with regulatory objectives?” he says.
It is the front office staff – sales teams, traders, revenue generators – who are the key risk managers, explains Shamik. “They are the ones putting transactions on the bank’s balance sheet. Regulators are increasingly focussing on that first line of defence,” he adds.
Before joining A&O Consulting, Shamik worked at the Financial Services Authority and spent time in senior operational and business management roles for ‘Global Markets’ at Nomura Europe, HSBC and Credit Agricole. Since joining A&O Consulting, Shamik has been helping to grow the strategic risk advisory and transformation business.
His regulatory experience includes Dodd-Frank implementation, supporting financial institutions in their responses to the European Market Infrastructure Regulation, MiFID, Brexit and LIBOR transition, and helping firms navigate through regulatory scrutiny, including s166 reviews.
In addition, Shamik has designed and implemented, from scratch to go-live, the new front office supervision framework at two global financial institutions, and hence understands the practical challenges. “Implementation of front office supervision or control is as much about the technical aspects as it is about the people, culture, and softer aspects. Unless someone has seen and lived it, they will not be able to appreciate the nuances involved”, says Shamik.
At A&O, Shamik and his team have executed multiple client engagements including an extensive LIBOR transition project for a Tier 1 global universal bank that involved advising on associated conduct risks, helping to devise the future operating model, and supporting them with both regulatory meetings and submissions.
His team has also undertaken the review of a large financial institution’s front office supervision framework, benchmarking their approach against industry best practice, identifying gaps and further scope for improvement.
In Shamik’s view, one of the biggest challenges in front offices is the ability of managers to get access to good insightful data that provides a holistic view on what is going on.
“An effective senior manager needs more than financial metrics to pick up on any issues relating to skills gaps, workloads or rogue traders in their team, but not all senior managers have access to that information,” says Shamik.
The front office should also be in the spotlight when it comes to culture and conduct, he says. "It is important for the front office to lead by example. That means everybody, however junior, should not be afraid to speak up if they have a concern or to own up to mistakes."
As regulators continue to push banks to improve their first line of defence, institutions cannot afford to wait for the authorities to uncover problems; they should proactively identify and remedy weak points.
“These issues may sometimes seem insurmountable but we can help to break them down into manageable structured blocks, creating a solution that moves from one milestone to another,” says Shamik.
He ends with an explanation on effective closure of a client engagement: “When we step out at the end of a project, if a client is not sure how things should be done going forward, I consider that a failure. Effective handover to the client’s business-as-usual team is very important."