A Theory of Model Sophistication and Operational Risk

44 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2016 Last revised: 24 May 2019

See all articles by Suleyman Basak

Suleyman Basak

London Business School; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Andrea M Buffa

University of Colorado at Boulder - Leeds School of Business

Date Written: May 2019


We study the decision making of a financial institution in the presence of a novel implementation friction that gives rise to operational risk. Operational risk naturally arises whenever the institution faces a trade-off between adopting a more sophisticated investment model and one that is less complex to implement. In practice, a more sophisticated model generates a more informative signal about an investment opportunity by relying on the latest IT infrastructure and advanced data analytics, but the use of these technologies makes it more prone to operational errors. In this case, it is no longer optimal to adopt the most sophisticated model available, and endogenous deviations from it are affected in opposite ways by the various risks the institution faces. While operational risk and market risk induce adopting a less sophisticated model, model risk induces adopting a more sophisticated one. The negative relation between operational risk and model sophistication implies that the institution’s optimal operational exposure may well become decreasing in the level of operational risk, and that its optimal market exposure becomes less volatile.

Keywords: Operational risk, model sophistication, risk exposure, risk management, market risk, model risk, Big Data, FinTech

JEL Classification: G11, G20, D90, C61

Suggested Citation

Basak, Suleyman and Buffa, Andrea M, A Theory of Model Sophistication and Operational Risk (May 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2737178 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2737178

Suleyman Basak

London Business School ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.suleymanbasak.com

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Andrea M Buffa (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Boulder - Leeds School of Business ( email )

Boulder, CO 80309-0419
United States

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