Sean Zia

Current Workplace: TD

Title: Business Consultant

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/mseanzia

On the first day of my term at TD, my manager asked me “do you know the purpose of enterprise risk management?” I thought, I did and without even blinking I answered “Yeah. We’re trying to eliminate the risk for the bank”.

What I had considered to be a great response was greeted by a long pause, a small sigh, and then a huge smile. After all of that my manager said, “We’re a bank. Our business is to take risks. The only question is which risks are worth taking.”

I had been wrong, my response was horrible and it was clear this was going to be a term where I was going to learn the ins and outs of the bank. The financial sector is one that is crucial to the country’s economy; millions of lives depend on it, and a small step towards the wrong direction can mean millions of people lose their savings, their houses and their jobs. As part of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), I realized our goal was to make sure the bank was always steered towards the right direction, and at a pace which benefited our customers as well as our shareholders.

My project in ERM was based on the aftermath of the 2007 financial collapse, where the banks had taken risks that they didn’t truly understand. The result was devastating, and became the basis of Basel Committee’s regulation on Data Aggregation and Reporting for Global and Domestic systemically important banks.

Believe it or not, all Canadian banks produce thousands of reports every year with an insane amount of numbers on them. Even worse is the fact that a majority (a vast majority actually) of these reports are created manually, with data being added and subtracted using Excel. The process of creating these reports is without a doubt inefficient, and the manual addition and subtraction of numbers lacks accuracy (statistically speaking the probability of a person adding thousands of numbers together and not making a mistake somewhere is very low).

So, for me it was hard not to get excited when I first realized this is how the banks function and that, this is the very problem addressed by the regulation introduced by Basel.

All these will go on to become the basis for me to dive deeper into finance and economics. This I credit to the Ryerson Co-op program for presenting a platform that created the possibility for such an opportunity to be taken at all.