The launch of The Daughters of Henry Wong

I recently launched my new novel The Daughters of Henry Wong in Melbourne this is what I said – When Morgan Stanley informed its Hong Kong employees that a person named “Harrison Young” was coming back to the firm to work in China, many of them assumed I was Chinese and wanted to know where[…]

How banks work

My great grandfather was a banker in Brookings, South Dakota – a town built around a rail junction deep in farm country. His name was “John David Wilson.” Everyone called him “J.D.” He was a resourceful, hard-working teetotaler, married to a woman just as smart as he was. They bought a house with extra bedrooms and took in railway[…]

On Risk Culture: Making Friends with 220 dot 13b

This piece also appeared in the Australian Financial Review. I was in a crowded restaurant the other day, discussing CPS 220 with a friend.  The woman at the next table decided to join our conversation.  “I don’t know about you,” she said, “but I love the new robot.  He’s small and determined, but more expressive[…]

Old fashioned virtue (& other people’s money)

John Kay has been in Australia for the last few days, promoting his new book, Other People’s Money – Masters of the Universe or Servants of the People?  Thanks to the Grattan Institute, he and I were interviewed in front of a couple of hundred people on Monday and had dinner afterwards. John is an[…]

Your job, my job, our job – the balance between Boards and management in governance

One of the principles of traditional governance is that a board oversees rather than manages. Both activities involve inspecting. While it is normally the boss who inspects, it is worth noting that both parties have the same objective: getting it right. Inspector and inspected are on the same team. As such boards participate in decision-making because as[…]

Governance – taming the beast

If you take an interest in the conduct and regulation of banks, you encounter the word, “governance,” almost immediately. The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (“APRA”) has a standard with that title.1 The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (“BCBS”) has issued a series of documents on “corporate governance for banks.” The newest version (the “2014 Guidelines”)2[…]

Why bankers should read poetry

In December of 2011, Monash University unaccountably gave me an honorary degree.  Having failed to get into law school in my twenties, in my sixties I became a doctor of laws.  In exchange, I was asked to give a graduation address — in this case to approximately 350 Asian recipients of finance and economics degrees.[…]

Lessons from a career in banking

When I got an appointment as an executive-in-residence and fellow at the University of Melbourne, I consulted an old friend who’s had an academic career. I wanted to know what to expect? “They’ll probably ask you to give a little talk about your work,” he told me. He meant my research focus. I interpreted “my[…]

Thinking about banking

Some years ago, I was introduced to a well-known writer at a party in Melbourne. “Harrison’s a banker,” my host said helpfully. “Gee,” responded the writer without missing a beat, “I’ve never met anyone in organized crime before.” I spent half a second searching for a clever response. But the Global Financial Crisis was raging,[…]

Why bankers should write novels

Writing novels will teach you that there has to be a story. We humans are programmed to want one. It is how we organise reality. If you make your living lending money or trading bonds or writing insurance you care about remote but plausible contingencies. To a novelist, remote but plausible contingencies are plots. This[…]