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商业 - 金融

擒获魔鬼交易员的“第22条军规”

Shelley DuBois 2011年09月23日

上周,瑞士联合银行一名魔鬼交易员被捕,引发了人们对该行风险管理的质疑。但事实上,从事这一行业本身无异于赌博,所有交易员每天的工作正如走钢丝般险象环生。

    此外,经理人通常不会完全禁止未经授权的交易,除非公司出现损失,这其实也是一种赌博行为。加州大学伯克利分校(University of California, Berkeley)领导力与沟通专业教授巴里•斯托称:“我们从未听到过有哪条金融丑闻说,某位魔鬼交易员为公司多赚了20亿美元。”如果交易员的未经授权交易“押准了盘口”,公司自然地会给他们奖励,这就使得未经授权交易更加难以避免。

    或许,交易员大脑短路的最大表现在于“输钱”之后,他们会禁不住翻盘的诱惑,做出一系列非理性的决定。斯托的研究发现,几乎所有魔鬼交易员都难逃这样的厄运;这种做法被称为“恶性增资”。

    这意味着尽管每笔交易都是独立的,但人们在做出当前的决定时,几乎不可避免地会将之前的损失考虑在内。结果就是,如果我们在决策时,脑子里想着如何让自己摆脱困境,在第三方旁观者眼里,此时做出的决定明显是拙劣的。

    人都会有一个特定的临界点,达到这个点之后,非理性的选择实际上变成了合理选择。比如,某个交易员损失了资金,于是开始进行风险越来越高的投机。他意识到,自己的饭碗或将不保,甚至会被逮捕。而对于这名交易员而言,损失10亿美元或20亿美元的惩罚并无区别。一旦突破了临界点,为了让自己脱身,交易员只有两个选择:要么加倍豪赌,要么束手就擒。这样看来,无论他怎么做其实都是合理的。尽管公司依然有大量资金面临风险,但对于交易员而言,现在他已经没什么可输的了。在危机状态下,人们想到的首先是自保,而不是公共利益。

    在阿多博利身上到底发生了什么?这一点目前尚不明确。一般而言,一个人一旦觉得自己陷入了困境,很难阻止他去冒险一搏。要想避免这种行为,最有效的方法之一不是依赖安全防护软件,而是着力打造办公室文化。虽然交易员的工作环境压力重重,但依然要让他们感觉,如果他们进行了违规交易,但侥幸未造成损失,他们可以与经理人交流心中的疑惑和不全。

    斯托认为,提高对这种错误的惩罚同样存在风险:交易员可能会更加谨小慎微,不敢有任何闪失,从而失去了学习的好机会。这样,一旦交易员犯了错,公司会发现,这些错误极其重大,根本无从掩盖。

    投资活动中特别容易出现这种行为,因此雇主需要借助各种各样的防范与平衡机制,包括:详尽透彻的招聘方法、开放的沟通文化、超强的可疑交易鉴别技术,以及超灵敏的人员监督系统。

    正如戴维•约翰逊的一位客户曾经说道:“必须尽量招聘道德最高尚的交易员。而在制定公司的政策和规定时,又必须把他们想象成谎话连篇、欺诈成性的恶棍。”

    译者:刘进龙/汪皓

    Besides, it's a fair bet that managers do not root out unauthorized trades unless they lose the company money. "You haven't heard of financial scandals where a rogue trader has earned $2 billion extra for the company," says Barry Staw, a professor of leadership and communication at the University of California, Berkeley. Traders who have bet correctly on unauthorized trades are inadvertently rewarded, making the behavior tough to break.

    But perhaps the biggest mental glitch at work is the temptation to make a series of irrational decisions after losing money. Almost everyone falls prey to this phenomenon, according to Staw's research; it's called "escalation of commitment."

    In trading, this means that even though trades are discrete events, it is near impossible for people not to factor a previous loss into their current decisions. The result is that when we want to dig ourselves out of a hole, we make decisions that a third-party observer could clearly identify as bad ones.

    At a certain point, people hit a threshold where irrational choices actually become rational. Say a trader is losing money, and he begins to make riskier and riskier bets. He realizes that his career is in jeopardy and he might even be arrested. The penalty may not change much, for the trader, whether he has lost $1 billion or $2 billion. If that's the case, once he crosses that threshold, it is rational to go double or nothing in an attempt to get out of the hole. Although there's still plenty of money at stake for the company, the trader likely has nothing more to lose at this stage. And people operating in crisis mode tend to look out for their own skin rather than the common good.

    It's still unclear what happened with Adoboli, but in general, it is difficult to reverse this pattern of risky betting once a person feels trapped. One of the best ways to prevent this behavior doesn't rely on security software but rather the culture in an office. Even though traders operate in such a high-pressure environment, they need to feel like they can talk to their managers about problems, insecurities about trades they might have done wrong, and near misses.

    One of the risks of raising the penalty for mistakes is that traders may feel less inclined to come forward with small errors that could be learning opportunities, Staw says. Then the company only sees the huge ones that are too big to hide.

    Investing is so prone to this kind of behavior that employers need to put all systems of checks and balances in place: extremely thorough hiring practices, an open culture of communication, strong technology to catch suspicious trades, and hyper vigilant human oversight.

    As one of David Johnson's clients once told him, "You have to hope that your traders are the finest moral people around. Then, you set up your policies and your rules as if they're all lying, cheating crooks."

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