By: Bob Morand
President and Managing Partner
Originally published on Jan 1, 2014.
March Madness is a special time of year. It’s Thursday morning, March 21st, and in a few hours the men’s annual NCAA basketball tournament/upset extravaganza is about to kick off. I just finished filling out my brackets for the tournament before embarking on this column. By the time you read this piece, the champions already will have cut down the nets and inked an NBA contract. And all three of my bracket sheets, I’m guessing confidently, will have bowed out of the tournament a long time ago, probably by the Sweet 16. While the theme of this quarter’s newsletter is risk management, and the ever-growing number of career opportunities for actuaries therein, I can’t help but
to think of how one can incorporate and implement enterprise-wide risk management in other areas of life, beyond business.
For example, how would ERM help me decide which picks to make for my NCAA bracket sheets? If you look at one NCAA bracket sheet as a business concern, the mission of the sheet is to win as many games as possible and accumulate as many points as possible, and thus be crowned office pool champion, EVEN IF IT MEANS ROOTING AGAINST YOUR OWN ALMA MATER! How would a newly minted CERA approach this bracket business? Would he/she advise that the best way to mitigate risk would be to exit the business at once before even the play-in games start…thus saving your personal enterprise $10 which could then be better spent on beer and wings watching the games at your local watering hole? Or maybe your CERA would see a huge upside to your bracket sheet risk. Maybe she’d go all in and call her colleague, Jeff, in the predictive analytics area to run some models on your various sheets.
After all, Jeff graduated from Duke and plays pick-up basketball every week. Who better to weigh in on your brackets? (Little does she know that Jeff has never made it past the Elite Eight in any of his own personal NCAA bracket sheets.) Would Jeff be so bold and prescient to predict that “one in a hundred year cat event” of #16-seed North Carolina A&T (“Agricultural & Too-much-of-a-longshot- but-we’d-love-to-see-it) upsetting the overall #1-seed Louisville? A #16 seed never, ever, has beaten a #1 seed in the tourney – at least as of this writing. Two #15 seeds beat two #2 seeds in last year’s dance… so these obscure-conference, tournament bottom dwellers are getting close. And while the adoption and incorporation of ERM into your bracket business isn’t a guarantee that you’ll avoid all potential pitfalls, it certainly can help weed out all of the renegade crazies who picked Harvard to beat New Mexico! Hah! I don’t need Jeff to tell me that.