Porque los Banqueros requieren más y mejor Administración

Daniel Beunza es un autor muy relevante para el proyecto de investigación que se relaciona con éste blog. Desde su actual trabajo, se observa que los Estudios Sociales de las Finanzas y los Mercados van dando lugar a un pensamiento administrativo importante y relevante para el mundo de la banca y más en general, a todas las organizaciones que se encuentran participando de la industria y mercados financieros.

En los datos del proyecto, el equipo de investigación ha encontrado que los incentivos son fundamentales para el trabajo de equipo y lo que Preda (2008) ha llamado ‘cognición financiera’. Estos incentivos, como lo muestra como uno de los bancos estudiados, se encuentran avanzando hacia mesas donde las personas se conocen más, conocen las necesidades de los demás y trabajan mancomunadamente para el logro de un resultado que satisfaga las necesidades del banco como un todo.
Un factor estructural que ha configurado la forma de operar de las mesas en Chile, es la regulación que desde la crisis del año 1982 inhabilita a los bancos de inversión que operan en Chile para comprar y vender acciones ha permitido mesas que tienen un perfil de riesgo menor que el que muestran otras de los mercados más desarrollados y en países del norte.

La complejidad de las operaciones en las que se ven involucrados los market makers traders (operadores) y la interconexión entre los mercados en los que ellos operan. Por ejemplo el caso del trading de seguros de inflación que afecta el de bonos, y el de derivados de tasas de interés -swaps y forwards- hace que la actividad humana de la mesa en Chile sea una mixtura difícil de simplificar. Aún más, se pudo observar en los datos que en ambas mesas estudiadas, los traders tienen una importante temporada de socialización en donde conocen los mercados/negocios que se realizan en la mesa.

Siguiendo lo comentado por Beunza, diríamos que el porte de la mesa también es relevante. En Chile, las mesas son más bien pequeñas. Incluso las de mayor relevancia en los mercados financieros, como la del Banco de Chile, Santander y Banco Estado, muestran un número de traders y sales (operadores market makers y de ventas) que permite a ellos conocerse y saber qué información generan y qué especalización tienen -que mercados/negocios realizan. El uso de iniciativas como la rotación permanente de los lugares físicos donde se encuentran los operadores son medidas de primera importancia, tal como lo comentaran los tres Encargados de la mesa del banco internacional que estudiara éste proyecto.

En Chile, el cambio cultural aún se ve distante.

Los bancos que trabajan en inversiones comienzan sin embargo -al ser organizaciones muy internacionalizadas- a visualizar que la cultura organizacional; ese constructo que depende fuertemente de los artefactos y de la mediación técnica; no sólo se construye con más conocimiento técnico sobre cómo funcionan los forwards, los swaps y la construcción de derivados exóticos sintéticos. Muy por el contrario, si queremos un sector financiero potente y que permita que el crecimiento del país sea soportado por los necesarios conductos que mueven el ahorro y la inversión en proyectos, se requiere de bancos que promuevan la justicia, la pertenencia y la confianza entre los operadores y todos los que componen la organización -cumplimiento, middle office y back office. Es menester proveer de los aspectos materiales -espacios, incentivos y normas- que permitan este cambio.

Les dejo a continuación el gran post que ha escrito Daniel Beunza. Pueden encontrar un link al blog de LSE, en el título de dicho post.

Why bankers need management

Imagine a world where financial institutions are characterised by pay proposals that break the cycle of pay inflation; by traders enjoying long careers within one organisation and by senior management adopting a pragmatic attitude to risk. My guess is that you can’t. But it’s difficult to reflect on the stereotype of the banker as anything other than reckless and self-motivated when this character has been affirmed in popular culture over the past 30 years.  Two of the most successful films about the financial industry, Wall Street (1987) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), depict traders performing shady and often illegal deals that are motivated by a ‘greed is good’ philosophy, conducted within a workplace that isn’t really like a workplace at all, where HR policies only exist to perpetuate individual wealth and materialistic need.

The modern-day banker is the epitome of a twenty-first century anti-hero, yet my experiences suggest this character valuation is not always accurate. As part of a research project I studied the operations of a New York bank. What I observed on the trading floor was not sheer individualism, where every man is out for himself, but even in a world which society has accepted to be shaped by selfishness and one’s unwavering belief of their own exceptionalism, it is trust, communication and collaboration that is key to success of the organisation.

Organisations need to be shaped

The effectiveness of the trading room I studied can be credited to the manager’s measured approach to HR policies. He was acutely aware that there are situations in the workplace that require the collaboration of people, often extending beyond the confines of the same organisational unit, which cannot be achieved through attractive remuneration packages. Policies that foster collaboration are very different from ones addressing materialistic interests; and instead compliment informal and formal organisational structures to connect different sets of knowledge, which the manager of the trading floor deemed necessary to elicit the most profitable trades.

It was under his leadership that awarding pay by a compensation committee was overhauled in favour of a policy that paid traders a fixed percentage of the profits of their desk. It was also the manager’s decision to cut the trading room to 150 employees. Not only did these new policies quash any uprisings about the injustices of the pay packet, but the reduction in headcount provided a closely-knit environment which enabled traders to build a social network based on trust.  After six months of getting to know the person at the adjacent desk, the manager would tear-up the seating plan and move every trader to a new desk to be assigned a new neighbour. Then six months later he would do it again. What started off as a simple question of ‘you want to grab a coffee?’ over time evolved into other interactions, with the expectation that the conversation would eventually turn to trade.

At the time, this managerial approach was perceived to be atypical within banks, despite activities that are targeted at complimenting organisational structures and hierarchy are commonplace in large firms. By contrast, the manager’s HR practices was archetypical of the way financial institutions were run in the 1970s and 1980s, which we refer to today as the old partnerships, however these partnerships which dominated the US and UK financial markets have ceased to exist. So where did it all go wrong?

Size matters
Part of the problem is size: a large trading room generates large profits, but building social interaction within the workplace becomes problematic. There is also the temptation in the banking sector to rely on a management model that flags problems of individual traders, but so often the manager ignores the trader until they inherit so much loss they are forced to cut the position. The trigger, however, can be pinpointed to the 1980s with the consolidation of the large banks and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, among other factors, which liberated financial organisations from restrictions on using depositor’s capital to engage in risk taking activity. The risk management models that ensued provided banks with the opportunity to develop a hands-off  attitude towards traders, and as the old partnerships evolved into publically listed organisations, the capital of the partners was no longer at stake and losses were absorbed by the shareholder.

Building a new foundation for economy 

Components of this set of ideas implies that if we want bankers to be more responsible, the shareholder needs to demand that responsibility of the banker, but this is hard to enforce. Since the 2008 financial crash, however, attitudes in the financial sector are changing which resonates with the sentiment that engulfed the fall of the Berlin Wall. It speaks to the demise of a previous model for economy and society. In 1989 Germany the demise was obviously communism, but today the demise is the approach that market efficiency is best attained by minimising regulation. Lack of regulation used to promote financial innovation, we have learnt, does not always result in positive innovation but contributes to a more unequal society.

There are two resounding lessons we can take away from the financial crisis: that a new form of capitalism should be defined by greater importance of regulation and heightened sensitivity towards stakeholders; and the notion that legitimacy should play a more prominent role in our society. We now know that this type of behaviour cannot be delegated to financial models and management styles of the past 30 years, but hinges on an organisational culture that promotes justice, identity, trust and pride among its employees. Once one accepts that the motivations of people on Wall Street are not purely materialistic, a whole world opens up for mangers in banks about what they need to do.

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