Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wanted: Chief Data Officer for US Federal Govt. Data Skills Not Necessary

President Obama has a year to decide on which person will occupy the post of Director of the Office of Financial Research (OFR).

Before that Congress must ratify.
Should the individual have previous Washington experience? A former White House executive, Congressman or say Treasury official. What about Wall Street experience and if so what kind?

As noted by Chris Kentouris in the Securities Industry Blog, this job amounts to the U.S government having the equivalent of a Chief Data Officer.

The OFR will be a new agency responsible for collecting data from financial corporations - what the IRS is for taxes. This newly created department will be responsible for collecting whatever data is needed from financial institutions so that the industry as a whole can be analyzed and evaluated for the spectre of systemic risk. In effect, illness in one firm or group of firms will be spotted before it spreads to the market as a whole.

According to the Financial Reform bill, the OFR will eventually issue and maintain two different and very important public databases. One would be a database of the financial instrument types and another a database of financial entities and organizations. The OFR would be linked to a Financial Research and Analysis Center whose job will be to develop intelligence – or actionable data – out of the raw data—so it can identify emerging systemic risks. Congress would get an annual report.

Given its significant role, who should head up the OFR?

The overriding consensus: a minimum 10 years of experience as the former chief executive or chief financial officer of a large Multinational Bank and/or a minimum 10 years experience as the chief risk officer of a large multinational bank. Additional data management expertise ideal but not required.

Michael Atkin, managing director of the NY-based Enterprise Data Management Council agrees that Wall Street experience is critical.

But he doesn’t discount the need for political savvy when it comes to leading the OFR. “It is after all a political appointment so some knowledge of the inner workings of Washington DC would be a plus,” says Atkin, whose group advocates that financial firms understand the importance of maintaining consistent and accurate enterprisewide data.

Atkin’s top three picks for the OFR directorship: the former chief operating officer of a large financial firm who is either retiring, previously left for a job in academia or for a job in Washington, says Atkin.

See more on the this from the Securities Industry Blog

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