5 Mar 2014

Superbanks - too large to fail, and too large to manage?

Bank managements often argue that losses in far-away subsidiaries could not easily have been foreseen by top management. Such may be the case when Citigroup tries to explain loan losses that may have occurred in its business in Mexico. But is this really a valid excuse? A loss of $ 400 million is quite substantial, even when measured against the bank's total assets of approximately $1.9 trillion. The loss/exposure admittedly is only 0.2 percent of total assets but seen in a different way this would mean that the bank has about 4500 loans (if they would all be the same size). Any organisation should be able to set up a management structure that can cope with this number of transactions. The management pyramid would only about three layers if each senior loan officer is in charge of about 50 loans. Impossible in this age of instant communication? Not in my opinion, one would not even need (expensive) MBA's or PhD's, just honest hardworking employees with a good pinch of common sense.