Christian Cooper, head of USD derivatives trading at Jefferies & Co. in New York, came to us to create a brand and a website to market his course which he developed to help those brave souls who dared to try to pass the Financial Risk Management Exam. (Statistics show about a 35% pass rate for Part I and of those, about the same percent pass Part II). So, being taught by someone in the industry can only be a huge advantage, and someone who is as oft-quoted and well-respected as Cooper teaching you… well, that has to be your ace in the hole. So, for all those who seek to know how to be intelligently risky with theirs or other people’s money, Christian Cooper’s course is now live online. I grabbed Christian for a few moments during one of his typically frenetic days (that started around 2am) to discuss the site.
KR: With all that you do, why did you feel it essential to heap even more on your plate and begin teaching a course on Risk Management?
CC: Because it is what is missing in my industry. On the trading side there are models and systems that are run through the IT personnel to determine the risk side of the business. But this doesn’t take into account all that impacts the markets. Emphasizing a real knowledge of risk management helps move the needle and gets people to start to realize fully what needs to be looked at.
KR: Aren’t there already courses in Risk Management?
CC: Existing courses do a great job of summarizing the information on the exam, sort of like Cliffs Notes to the exam. What I want to do is position all the material in a broader context. It takes a practitioner… someone in the business… to connect the dots and go from rote to real-life.
KR: Had you heard I was an economics major in college? Or were you seriously sleep-deprived at the moment you called KRD? What exactly made you come to us to develop your brand and create your site?
CC: This is a global exam and I wanted to bring a personality to it… something I think takes a unique eye to do, …which is what I recognized when I looked at your site.
KR: I am pretty excited about the Support Site that your students have access to once they have signed up for your course.
CC: The Support Site will be very important going forward giving the students an ecosystem of support which will have long term value. For them to be online together, working with each other, broadening their understanding… is essentially establishing partnerships around the world.
KR: So Christian, enough about work, what do you do in your free time?
CC: My job is truly around the clock, so I do have very little down time although there are a few non-work things I really enjoy. For example, I recently helped launch the Harriman Society at the Truman National Security Project. Les Gelb and Vincent Mai are on the advisory board, among others, and the idea is to bring together individuals in business and foreign policy where meaningful conversations don’t always happen. If the foundation of our security over the next generation will be built upon the economic stability we have now, this is a crucial place to start. I am also executive producer of an indie film starring Edoardo Ballerini and that will hopefully begin shooting early this summer. I don’t own a TV or watch movies so maybe I’ll make an exception in this case. I enjoy getting down to DC for the roundtables at CSIS and will be attending the Ideas Festival and the Security Forum at the Aspen Institute later this year. Stuff like that. Did I also mention I wrote a book?
KR: Haha, yes, …know all about the book. Actually wish I hadn’t asked that last question. You got me feeling like I need to stop wasting so much time sleeping! But while I have a global thinker on the phone, I have to ask what you see going on in our world that the less watchful of us should be alert to?
CC: While there is no doubt in my mind the first half of 2011 will be characterized by scorching growth around the world, we do have many structural issues that we have to solve that could otherwise put our security at risk. The bottom line is we can’t rest on our laurels when we have crippling demographic shifts underway in the West, combined with explosive growth in the East. We have to solve significant environmental damage and deal with the potential for political instability caused by environmentally-driven population migration. Further, we are the last generation that will rely on oil as an energy source — not because I am confident we will develop another source of energy, but the cost, the true cost in terms of carbon, are simply too high not to have another legitimate solution. These are the big-picture problems that present both opportunity as well as a daunting challenge.