Monthly Archives: March 2009

What the Savings & Loan Crisis Taught Me about Public Trust

Dave Cooke
David Cooke

Post by David Cooke, Senior Government Advisor to BearingPoint

It’s impossible to underestimate the challenges that Geithner and the Obama administration face—the pressure to do something—anything—fast to fix the banking crisis. I don’t pretend to have the solution, but I do know that restoring public confidence is a critical part of the recovery process.

What I learned as the Executive Director and COO of the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) during the savings & loan (S&L) crisis is that the two—public trust and the crisis resolution strategy—are inextricable. Even more so when taxpayer funds are involved. The greater the public confusion or doubt, the more difficult operations will become – no matter how hard you try.

I saw this firsthand when the former S&L regulatory agency lost public confidence and was eliminated by Congress. Re-establishing trust was a very difficult challenge for the newly-created RTC, charged with managing the highly unpopular and misunderstood task of resolving hundreds of S&L closings. Congress and the public had very little understanding of the new RTC’s mission and authority, let alone the organizational, staffing, information, and funding challenges that we were facing. We quickly learned that we should have focused on reaching out to the public and stakeholders at the very start to help them understand our challenges—and our progress.

As Treasury Secretary Geithner grapples with finding the right strategy to reverse the enormity of the banking crisis, I offer a few recommendations from my own experience to get a running start in rebuilding public trust.

  1. Design a transparent resolution strategy that is cost effective and makes sense to the public. Minimize perceptions of a banker bailout; remove nonviable banks from the market place with as little disruption as possible. Identify and isolate “toxic assets” to be managed separately from banking operations by qualified and properly incented professionals. Minimize perceptions that errant bankers are being rewarded for their mistakes or relied upon to solve their problems at taxpayer expense. Do not place healthy banks at a competitive disadvantage against assisted banks.
  2. Base decisions and measures on reliable information. You need to know where you are to figure out where you are going and how to get there. Confidence in everything you do will suffer when unreliable information results in repeated funding requests to Congress.
  3. Make every effort to minimize taxpayer losses by operating effectively and efficiently and pursuing those who caused the loss.
    • Develop and disclose meaningful performance metrics as soon as possible. Confusion and misunderstanding about RTC’s mission and its accomplishments were ameliorated once RTC established measures regarding resolution and asset sales activity.
    • Focus on eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. High taxpayer costs and demand for results made RTC more vulnerable to claims of waste, fraud, and abuse in the areas of contracting and contract management, information systems, and asset management and disposition. RTC expanded and enhanced its internal control programs and employee training to complete a very large task without any serious incidents of operational mismanagement.
    • Vigorously pursue claims against bankers and other professionals who contributed to losses. The claims that FDIC and RTC filed against former failed institution directors, officers, attorneys, accountants, appraisers, brokers, and other professionals contributed significantly to cash recoveries.

I can say first hand that resolving failing institutions using taxpayer money will be a very unpopular challenge. Mistakes certainly will be criticized much faster than accomplishments are recognized. Building trust and confidence will not be easy and will take time but following the principles outlined above will help the new administration get there. I look forward to reading what you have to say on this topic so please leave a comment below.

About the David
David Cooke gained lots of experience with failing banks and thrifts during his career at the FDIC and while serving as Executive Director and COO of the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) with responsibility for the new agency’s organization, staffing, and operations that involved managing the resolution of several hundred failing Savings & Loan institutions and many billions of illiquid assets. David is currently serving as a senior government advisor to BearingPoint. For related information, please visit

Information Management: An interview with Dr. Sai Lai Lo

Dr. Sai Lai Lo
Ping An Insurance

BearingPoint took some time to sit down with executives in a series of discussions to get their insights into information management. This conversation is with Dr. Sai Lai Lo, CIO of Ping An Insurance.

Over the last 18 years, Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China has become one of China’s best-known financial services brands both domestically and internationally. The group has an extensive domestic customer base and is one of the few Chinese financial institutions providing integrated insurance, banking, trust and brokerage services.

Ping An’s chief information officer, Dr. Sai Lai Lo, who joined the company in 2002, is spearheading the organization’s information management efforts during a period of rapid expansion—but without the need to tackle legacy systems or other problems commonly found in more established organizations.

Through his leadership, the company is fixing problems as they happen, taking into account how to implement information management properly one business unit at a time—without even calling it information management. While Lo envisions a more pragmatic approach in the future, today his focus is on data consistency. Lo offers insights into information management within the context of an emerging market.

Read the full conversation

View the rest of the series

Information Management: An interview with Bob Haycock

Bob Haycock
Bob Haycock
former Chief Architect
at OMB

BearingPoint took some time to sit down with executives in a series of discussions to get their insights into information management. This conversation is with Bob Haycock, former Chief Architect at OMB.

Bob Haycock has seen several administrations come and go in his years as an information technology (IT) executive in the federal government. Among his many positions in public service, Haycock held the post of chief architect at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), an agency tasked with advising senior White House officials on a range of topics relating to federal policy, management, legislative, regulatory and budgetary issues.

At OMB, he spearheaded a strategic initiative revolving around enterprise architecture. As Haycock explains, the effort was a vital move to help agencies better manage their information and ease cross-agency collaboration. BearingPoint spoke with Haycock about his perspectives on information management and leadership in the federal government.

Read the full conversation

View the rest of the series

Leadership in Challenging Times

Back in the good old days (if there ever really were “good old days”), CFOs had a fairly straightforward path to success: Be responsible, be timely, be accurate. Good CFOs could also be counted on to think strategically, which added considerable value to the bottom line.

Reed Kingston
Reed Kingston
Practice Manager

The job was never easy, but these days it’s harder than ever. Corporations demand a high level of sophistication and innovation from the finance function. And the inherent challenges of an economic decline make this mandate even more burdensome.

While most CFOs have taken to heart the importance of being innovative and proactive, not as many of them have defined their role as a central player in planning changes that maximize shareholder value and driving them across the enterprise.

What these executives do not fully exploit is that the CFO is uniquely qualified to provide meaningful input on the organization’s current and future initiatives and to lead the business in adapting to the changes that lay ahead. Leading financial executives take this to heart, providing critical insight to the business at large — not just within the finance function. They use their financial management platform to define and quantify value drivers for their enterprise, focus the entire organization on business initiatives that maximize value, and lead enterprise transformation efforts.

Today’s turbulent times will highlight the value of those CFOs who have already added the title of “Chief Transformation Officer” to their already long list of responsibilities. They have created organizations that are more nimble and better prepared to quickly identify and implement needed changes thoughtfully, with an eye towards not just surviving the next several quarters but being in position to dominate their markets when things swing back, as they always do.

CFOs who truly understand and embrace this new requirement to be a catalyst for change — and to lead business transformation across the enterprise — will create enormous competitive advantage for their corporations.

To learn more about the changing profile of today’s successful CFO, read our analysis of current challenges and opportunities for today’s chief financial officers.

Author: Reed Kingston

Enterprise 2.0: Engaging Your People

There is a growing importance to use Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 concepts in human resources. Last week, I attended and presented at the Inspecht HR Futures Conference in Melbourne. The Inspecht HR Futures Conference brought together speakers covering all areas of HR, Recruiting and Technology to discuss how social media, innovation, culture and technology empower, attract, engage and evolve employees.

I presented how BearingPoint leverage Web 2.0 technologies to assist us in engaging our internal team members through the BearingPoint Wiki and shared some of my experiences and benefits using the tool in my day to day work. Following on, I explained how BearingPoint is reaching out to external information management experts through Mike2.0 where it provided us with an excellent platform to interact and discuss information management.

My presentation is below:

Author: Sean Lew

View more presentations from Sean Lew. (tags: 2.0 collaboration)