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  Issue 1 | Archive   16 November 2009

FEATURE

RMIí»s new facilities to mark another milestone

On Friday, October 3, the Risk Management Institute's new facilities in the I3 building at 21 Heng Mui Keng Terrace were formally opened by the President of the National University of Singapore, Prof. Tan Chorh Chuan, and the Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Mr. Heng Swee Keat. The one-day symposium attracted an audience of well over 200 guests from academia, industry, the government and regulatory agencies, marking a promising and stimulating start to RMI's activities in its new premises.

Established in August 2006, over its short life span, RMI has rapidly established a reputation as an emerging center of excellence for education, training and research in the area of financial risk management. A one-day symposium with the fitting theme "Advances in Risk Management - Theory and Practice" featuring distinguished speakers from industry and academia was held to commemorate the event. Located in the verdant settings on Heng Mui Keng Terrace with the Institute of Real Estate Studies and the The Logistics Institute of Asia Pacific as its neighbors, RMI expects to leverage on the wide range of skills available at NUS to enhance risk management capabilities.

The new facilities provide a common space for researchers allowing RMI to draw upon the rich research capabilities across the university. In his opening address, Prof. Tan Chorh Chuan pointed out that the credit rating initiative enables RMI to collaborate with knowledge organizations and researchers in Singapore and from across the world. RMI's tie-ups with the Singapore Exchange and the Monetary Authority of Singapore and with other partners in industry and regulatory agencies have established its credentials as a bridge between academic research in financial risk management and its wider applications in financial sector. Furthermore, RMI's long-standing and highly-regarded Master's in Financial Engineering program has helped enhance local capabilities in risk management. Prof Tan addressed the benefits for Singapore and the region from the improved risk management skills that RMI could facilitate through its education and research programs, and hoped that the new facilities would provide a powerful stimulus to multidisciplinary research. He spoke of the need for and the benefits of interdisciplinary research. RMI's new premises amidst the verdant settings of Heng Mui Keng Terrace would allow the Institute to leverage on the wide range of skills available at NUS.

In his opening remarks, the Guest of Honor, Mr. Heng Swee Keat, alluded to the timeliness of RMI's expansion in the midst of a severe crisis. He identified three crucial areas where as a center for knowledge creation and knowledge management, RMI could make significant contributions.

Researchers could scale up their engagement with industry to address fundamental questions about risk management practices, identify gaps and facilitate innovations in risk management techniques. The credit rating initiative was a step in the right direction. RMI's workshops and seminars could be similarly oriented to encourage two-way discussions with industry. Second, in addition to the risk management programs offered under the Financial Industry Competency Standards, he suggested expanding the repertoire to include executive programs for Board members and senior management of financial institutions. This would help enhance appreciation of appropriate risk management at the apex level of decision-making in financial institutions. Finally, RMI's highly regarded annual Risk Management conference could evolve into a landmark event on risk management in the region and globally.

In his capacity as Chairman of the RMI Board, Deputy President and Provost, Prof. Tan Eng Chye thanked Mr. Heng for the thoughtful suggestions, stating that they would be taken up at RMI. Prof. Tan reiterated the congenial and inviting surroundings provided by the new RMI offices - an ideal setting for industrial collaboration, for staff, students and researchers to engage in brainstorming sessions. Prof. Tan dwelt at length on the significance of the credit rating initiative undertaken by RMI. The not-for-profit initiative could not have been timelier, as the established Credit Rating agencies had failed to live up to their mandate. The open collaborative nature of the project, likened to a 'selective Wikipedia' coupled with complete transparency in the methodology deployed would ensure that the ratings were based on scientific research and models that would be freely available in the public domain. This would preclude any conflicts of interest that had plagued the commercial rating agencies and been the source of considerable criticism. RMI's credit rating exercise could be described as a 'public good' that would benefit investors, issuers, regulators and financial institutions. Along with its ongoing research and annual conference and other activities, these endeavors would place RMI on the global map for risk management practices.

The opening ceremony was followed by talks by two distinguished practitioners. Dr Sung Cheng Chih, Managing Director and Chief Risk Officer of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation provided a detailed and nuance ground level view of the challenges of managing long-term investment funds. The morning session concluded with an insightful presentation by Mr. Tham Ming Soong, Executive Vice President and Head of Risk Management, United Overseas Bank, speaking on the imperatives of enterprise risk management.

RMI's new facilities provided the setting for an elegant lunch for the visiting delegates, faculty, industry experts, researchers, staff and students. After lunch many of the visitors availed of the tour of RMI's facilities. The open spaces for staff and researchers and the views of the Port and the sea in one direction and the lush Kent Ridge on the other were appreciated by many visitors.

The afternoon session featured three talks by distinguished academics. Prof. Hyeng Keun Koo from Ajou University in Korea and Prof. Alexandre Baptista from Georgetown University spoke on the cutting edge challenges stemming from aging populations, and the implications of various measures of risk for the accuracy of risk management. In the concluding seminar RMI director and Cycle & Carriage Professor of Finance Prof. Jin-Chuan Duan spoke on 'Double Default - A Cointegration Approach' providing an innovative approach to measuring the risk of unlikely configuration of events, such as the Lehman Brother bankruptcy and the failure of AIG occurring simultaneously.

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Published quarterly by Risk Management Institute, NUS
Editor: Ivy Wang (rmiwy@nus.edu.sg)