Introducing our risk management team: Tom Balogh
In the first in a series profiling members of A&O Consulting’s risk management and controls practice, we meet Tom Balogh, executive director and team lead.
As a former regulator with more than 20 years experience working in financial services, Tom Balogh knows what it takes for large global financial institutions to anticipate, mitigate and control risk.
At A&O Consulting, Tom and his team work help clients navigate and respond to regulatory change and the increasingly complex and challenging environment in which they operate.
Tom describes his approach to his often diverse, complex and sensitive work as being pragmatic and empathetic.
He says: “We are often advising organisations that are responding to a situation when something has gone wrong and they need to demonstrate that they have remediated the problem effectively, or they need to protect their business from a current or emerging business-critical risk.”
Clients want to work with an adviser who is collaborative and engaging and has a practical and intimate understanding of their business and the risks that need to be addressed, he explains.
Tom worked for five years at the Financial Services Authority early in his career, going on to work in the risk advisory business of one of the Big Four firms for eight years across London and New York, before moving to A&O Consulting four years ago.
Since then, Tom has contributed to the growth of the firm's cross-border strategic and regulatory consulting team, leading on several significant mandates.
“In one recent project, we helped a client respond to a regulatory challenge," says Tom. "The regulator had identified issues with their risk framework and given our client only a month to provide a plan to fix them. The client was a large and complex global organisation so this was a real challenge for them.”
The scale and scope of the project and the limited amount of time available to complete the work meant that Tom and his team had to establish a close working relationship with the client from the outset.
“Effective collaboration and a deep understanding of the client’s business were essential to our team, who had all dealt with these issues before, either as regulators or as part of the response team. This meant that, once we had seen the regulatory request, we immediately had a view on what the plan needed to include. We then sat down with the client to work out what they could achieve and brought it together in an implementation plan with clear but achievable timeframes, which the regulator then accepted.”
Tom's work focuses primarily on developing and implementing risk and compliance frameworks, creating taxonomies and approaches that help organisations respond to regulatory risk.
In another assignment, Tom led a team that helped a Fortune Global 500 company address its antitrust compliance risks worldwide.
As part of this project, A&O Consulting created a global benchmarking survey to gauge how the client's antitrust compliance programme compared to its peers. Using a combination of the survey responses and outputs from a series of focus groups, the team developed a tailored programme of tactical and strategic improvements to help the client better monitor, mitigate and report on its antitrust risks, significantly reducing its exposure.
“We worked with the client to assess their potential risks, which allowed them to focus on which controls best mitigated them,” says Tom. “By both knowing what peers are doing and really understanding the data they had access to, we could help the client come up with much stronger approaches to monitoring. It also helps them know where to invest to get the most impact for the money. ”
In addition to the consulting team, Tom works closely with A&O lawyers. “By working together, we can build a comprehensive picture of a client's risks and develop effective and efficient solutions to address them,” he says.
Tom leads both advisory and implementation projects, and as well as his focus on conduct and operational risks he has developed a speciality in market abuse and financial crime risks, including cryptocurrencies.
“The key word for me is relationships,” he says. “These projects are about truly understanding what each client needs, getting under the skin of an issue and being flexible in addressing it. We can draw on a wealth of experience gained over decades in this industry, sharing insights from other markets and regions to help clients address their particular challenges."
Against an increasingly difficult macroeconomic backdrop, and with the pace of technological change putting further pressure on risk professionals to keep up with the impact of AI, automation and blockchain on their exposures, the need to deliver independent and effective oversight remains vital.
“These are the sorts of difficult times where some people may be tempted to break the rules,” says Tom. “We can see this in some of the causes of the recent Crypto crash. If you don’t have effective risk programmes, these issues can escalate and even bring down firms that have great potential but where the controls have not kept pace with growth or innovation."