Modelling Operational Risk

Journal of Risk, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 1-16, 2003

23 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2001 Last revised: 6 Jan 2010

See all articles by Silvan Ebnöther

Silvan Ebnöther

Zurich Cantonal Bank

Paolo Vanini

University of Basel

Alexander McNeil

ETH Zürich - Department of Mathematics

Pierre Antolinez-Fehr

Zurich Cantonal Bank

Date Written: December 1, 2001


The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision ("the Committee") released a consultative document that included a regulatory capital charge for operational risk. The complexity of the object "operational risk" led from the time of the document's release to vigorous and recurring discussions. We show that for a production unit of a bank with well-defined workflow processes where a comprehensive self-assessment based on six risk factors has been carried out, operational risk can be unambiguously defined and modelled. Using techniques from extreme value theory, we calculate risk measures for independent and dependent risk factors, re-spectively. The results of this modelling exercise are relevant for the implementation of a risk management framework: Frequency dependence among the risk factors only slightly changes the independency results, severity dependence on the contrary changes the independency results significantly, the risk factor "fraud" dominates all other factors and finally, only 10 percent of all processes have a 98 percent contribution to the resulting VaR. Since the definition and maintenance of processes is very costly, this last results is of major practical relevance. Performing a sensitivity analysis, it turns out that the key 10% of relevant processes is rather robust under this stress testing.

Keywords: Operational Risk, Risk Management, Extreme Value Theory, VaR

JEL Classification: C19, C69, G18, G21

Suggested Citation

Ebnöther, Silvan and Vanini, Paolo and McNeil, Alexander and Antolinez-Fehr, Pierre, Modelling Operational Risk (December 1, 2001). Journal of Risk, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 1-16, 2003, Available at SSRN: or

Silvan Ebnöther

Zurich Cantonal Bank ( email )

Josefstrasse 222
CH-8000 Zurich

Paolo Vanini (Contact Author)

University of Basel ( email )

Petersplatz 1
Basel, CH-4003

Alexander McNeil

ETH Zürich - Department of Mathematics ( email )

ETH Zentrum HG-F 42.1
Raemistr. 101
CH-8092 Zurich, 8092
+41 1 632 61 62 (Phone)
+41 1 632 10 85 (Fax)

Pierre Antolinez-Fehr

Zurich Cantonal Bank ( email )

Neue Hard 9
Corporate Risk Control
CH-8000 Zurich
+41 1 275 70 17 (Phone)
+41 1 272 19 39 (Fax)

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