Managing risk has always been an integral part of banking. In the past two years an approach to risk management called "Value at Risk" has been accepted by both practitioners and regulators as the "right" way to measure risk, becoming a de facto industry standard. Yet, the danger is that overreliance on value at risk can give risk managers a false sense of security or lull them into complacency. Value at risk is only one of many tools of managing risk, and it is based on a number of unrealistic assumptions. There is no generally accepted way to calculate it, and various methods can yield widely different results.
This article described several common methods for calculating value at risk and highlights important assumptions and methodological issues. The author discusses the strengths and weaknesses of value at risk, pointing out that its use has created a common language for discussions about risk and prompted more dialogue about risk issues. She cautions, however, that successful risk management is a much broader task, which depends crucially on appropriate incentives and internal controls.