Operational Risk Management

September 1998


The Basle Committee on Banking supervision has recently initiated work related to operational risk. Managing such risk is becoming an important feature of sound risk management practice in modern financial markets. The most important types of operational risk involve breakdowns in internal controls and corporate governance. Such breakdowns can lead to financial losses through error, fraud, or failure to perform in a timely manner or cause the interests of the bank to be compromised in some other way, for example, by its dealers, lending officers or other staff exceeding their authority or conducting business in an unethical or risky manner. Other aspects of operational risk include major failure of information technology systems or events such as major fires or other disasters.

A working group of the Basle Committee recently interviewed approximately thirty major banks from the different member countries on the management of operational risk. Several common themes emerged during these discussions.