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Spotlight: A Message from Our CEO

Spotlight: A Message from Our CEO
Susanna K. Tisa 


September 2018 marked the 10th anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ spectacular collapse that ignited the Great Financial Crisis. With the goal of steering financial companies through the rough regulatory seas ahead, I stepped off the corporate executive track to become an entrepreneur. 


Now, I enrich my perspective every day meeting with client executives from large and small financial services firms. Risk management principles I have accumulated from childhood have guided my journey from corporate banker to entrepreneur, to CEO and Trusted Advisor. Five principles keep me on course today, through fair weather and foul:

Capital Sets You Free. I was not born into an affluent family. Growing up I witnessed calculated risk-taking, hard work, and the preservation of funds for opportunities and rainy days. Capital stewardship, countercyclical buffers, and risk-adjusted investment returns were concepts learned from my blue-collar parents.


Adventure Fosters Innovation. After graduate school, despite no money, no job, and no real experience, I invented my career at a tiny commercial bank. I experienced the 1980s’ Black Monday crisis (my first but not last crisis) as a thrift industry consultant, and advanced within corporate finance and treasury supporting the consumer lending and mortgage markets. I learned from industry leaders that innovation and risk management are not mutually exclusive.


Go with Your Gut. By 2005, ever-so-slightly widening option-adjusted spreads on mortgage-backed bonds signalled the coming rout in financial markets. I attended a Lehman presentation designed to reassure investors that capital and liquidity were readily available and that secondary markets were well-supported by government guarantees. When the people start protesting too much about how good things are, it is time to head for the exit.


Chance Favors the Prepared Mind. Once the entrepreneurial bug bit me, I had pretty much seen it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly of financial services. Bankers were being stigmatized as “unfair, deceptive, and abusive,” whether on Wall Street or Main Street. I am very proud to be a former banker who focuses on regaining the valued trust our industry lost 10 years ago. And finally,


There Are No Wasted Experiences. Every experience is valuable. The best risk management teams have diverse backgrounds, heritages, cultures, interests, and opinions.


I know that we cannot entirely avoid risk, nor do we want to. Instead, we should actively seek it out, monitor it, and manage it. We can certainly learn from our past mistakes and put those lessons to good use.


Treliant, LLC, Compliance, Risk Management, and Strategic Advisors to the Financial Services Industry and Consumer-Oriented Businesses, brings to you New Coordinates, a quarterly newsletter offering insights and information regarding pertinent issues affecting the financial services industry. This article appeared in its entirety in the Fall 2018 issue. To subscribe to our quarterly newsletter, please Contact Us.

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