Dec. 21, 2020

Jim Oates on how a No Surprises approach can help manage risk

Jim Oates on how a No Surprises approach can help manage risk

When things go wrong in companies, it's usually accompanied by a sense of surprise on the part of senior management. Given we know that employing people will result in some form of Human Risk, wouldn't it be better if we could find a way to ensure...


When things go wrong in companies, it's usually accompanied by a sense of surprise on the part of senior management. Given we know that employing people will result in some form of Human Risk, wouldn't it be better if we could find a way to ensure there were no surprises? At least, not in areas where controls exist to mitigate the risk.

That's what my guest Jim Oates explores with me on this episode. He's spent his career working in audit in Financial Services, so he's seen plenty of examples of the aftermath of things not going according to plan. His experience as an auditor led him to adopt a strategy of "No Surprises"; working to ensure the Board of Directors of the company aren't surprised by a significant loss or damage to the firm's reputation, due to an unexpected control failure.

In our discussion, we explore some of the events that shaped Jim's career and what he learned from them. The insights he shares about human decision-making and how audit can help to mitigate the risks it poses are fascinating and very timely.

Jim also played an important part in furthering my thinking about Human Risk. He was my boss at UBS when I evolved the idea of "Bringing Behavioural Science to Compliance" and supported me in pursuing the idea. As one of of the early sponsors of the ideas behind it, it's very fitting to have him as a guest on the podcast.

To find out more about Jim and his work, visit his website: https://www.eventumrisk.com/

During our discussion, Jim refers to:

- CDOs: https://www.thebalance.com/cdos-collateralized-debt-obligations-3305822

- LIBOR: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19199683

- Kweku Adoboli: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19660659