Brokerage MF Global has hired external risk consultants to review its order entry systems, after a rogue trader lost $141.5 million when he was able to exceed his limit order and place unauthorized trades.
The incident comes just weeks after Soc Gen revealed that a rogue trader lost more than $7 billion by placing unauthorized bets on European stock indexes.Both these incidents have raised new questions about risk controls at financial institutions.
MF Global said its rogue employee, Memphis-based Evan Dooley, was trading in wheat futures in his personal account. He "substantially exceeded his authorized trading limit," the brokerage said.
The company said he was able to conduct the unauthorized trades because of a failure in the entry-order system the broker used to vet trades. Covering the bad bets consumed about 6% of the capital at the company, the Wall Street Journal said.
MF Global clears its own trades and is therefore responsible for the $141.5 million in losses.
The WSJ reported that shares of the company plunged 40% following news of the massive loss. This "showed that many investors are worried that plugging holes in MF Global's risk management procedures won't be enough to restore customer confidence," the WSJ said.
The company has now hired a technology consultant to examine the system, which it says should have blocked the unauthorized trades.
Philippe Carrel, EVP, Global Head of Business Development, Reuters, points out that today, risk managers must be viewed as the most powerful managers within an organization.
Speaking at a conference in New York last week, he said operational risk, defined as the risk resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes, must become everyone's problem.
"You have to think, when I do this, am I putting my company at risk? All employees must think about this, from top management to the assembly line," he said.
Referring to the scandal at Soc Gen, where Jerome Kerviel still had access to systems he used in the back office - Carrel also pointed out that while there must be Chinese Walls between the front and back office, "Sometimes these walls should have windows, and allow some kind of emergency communication."Brokerage MF Global has hired external risk consultants to review its order entry systems, after a rogue trader lost $141.5 million... Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in April 2007, Melanie lived in Paris, where she worked for the International Herald ... View Full Bio