On Risk Taking

"Admit we are not sure of all the risks.

  • Show some humility.
  • Figure out what we are really trying to do.
  • Try to understand why a transaction makes sense to your counterparty.
  • Ask "what if?" Quantify "what if?"
  • Always measure opportunities lost.
  • Ignore accounting conventions. They are not useful risk management tools; they are designed to make our lives easier and comfortable."

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Gene Rotberg has served as an advisor to governments, international institutions and the private sector on matters dealing with interest and exchange rate volatility, the regulation of financial markets, risk taking and the role of international development institutions. He held the position of Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank where he was responsible for its overall funding and investment operations.

Prior to his serving at the World Bank, Gene served for 11 years at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission where he held the positions of Associate Director for Market Regulation and Chief Counsel, Office of Policy Research. During his tenure at the SEC, Gene also served on the Special Study of Securities Markets and conducted public hearings on the structure of the securities markets, commission rates, competition in the financial industry and related anti-trust matters. Gene also held the position, Executive Vice President of Merrill Lynch & Co., where he was responsible for overall risk management.

Gene has served as a Director on various international and public domestic corporate and advisory boards and non-profit institutions. He currently is a Senior Advisor to The George Washington University Investment Committee and has served as a Trustee of the Washington National Opera, the NPR Foundation, The Theatre Lab, and INMED, a non-profit institution devoted to improving health conditions for children at risk.

He recently was designated by Institutional Investor magazine as one of the 40 most influential persons world-wide in finance over the last 40 years. Most recently, he has written an Opera libretto concerning the events in Tahir Square, Egypt. Gene is an opera fanatic.

Gene is married to Iris. They have two daughters and seven grandchildren who they are trying to steer toward opera, not finance.

Gene is a lawyer who received a Bachelor of Science degree from Temple University and his Law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.