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Enterprise Risk Management: Theory and Practice


  • Brian W. Nocco
  • René M. Stulz


The Chief Risk Officer of Nationwide Insurance teams up with a distinguished academic to discuss the benefits and challenges associated with the design and implementation of an enterprise risk management program. The authors begin by arguing that a carefully designed ERM program—one in which all material corporate risks are viewed and managed within a single framework—can be a source of long‐run competitive advantage and value through its effects at both a “macro” or company‐wide level and a “micro” or business‐unit level. At the macro level, ERM enables senior management to identify, measure, and limit to acceptable levels the net exposures faced by the firm. By managing such exposures mainly with the idea of cushioning downside outcomes and protecting the firm's credit rating, ERM helps maintain the firm's access to capital and other resources necessary to implement its strategy and business plan. At the micro level, ERM adds value by ensuring that all material risks are “owned,” and risk‐return tradeoffs carefully evaluated, by operating managers and employees throughout the firm. To this end, business unit managers at Nationwide are required to provide information about major risks associated with all new capital projects—information that can then used by senior management to evaluate the marginal impact of the projects on the firm's total risk. And to encourage operating managers to focus on the risk‐return tradeoffs in their own businesses, Nationwide's periodic performance evaluations of its business units attempt to refl ect their contributions to total risk by assigning risk‐adjusted levels of “imputed” capital on which project managers are expected to earn adequate returns. The second, and by far the larger, part of the article provides an extensive guide to the process and major challenges that arise when implementing ERM, along with an account of Nationwide's approach to dealing with them. Among other issues, the authors discuss how a company should assess its risk “appetite,” measure how much risk it is bearing, and decide which risks to retain and which to transfer to others. Consistent with the principle of comparative advantage it uses to guide such decisions, Nationwide attempts to limit “non‐core” exposures, such as interest rate and equity risk, thereby enlarging the firm's capacity to bear the “information‐intensive, insurance‐ specific” risks at the core of its business and competencies.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian W. Nocco & René M. Stulz, 2006. "Enterprise Risk Management: Theory and Practice," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 18(4), pages 8-20, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jacrfn:v:18:y:2006:i:4:p:8-20
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-6622.2006.00106.x

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