By PricewaterhouseCoopers, Risk Books

This is often an authoritative, step by step consultant during the practicalities of auditing derivatives. It contains an creation to the targeted features of a few of the tools and terminology, and an up to date assessment of regulatory concerns worldwide.

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The aim of this chapter, then, is to introduce auditors to the basic concepts of derivatives, what the instruments are, how they are used, and the special risks they create. Our task is not a simple one; derivatives can be quite complex and the language, albeit colourful, can be confusing. Like any new science, risk management abounds with buzz words. Terms such as delta, gamma, vega, value-at-risk, volatility smile, path-dependency, and quanto are sprinkled around by the "rocket scientists" (ie quantification specialists) working for derivatives vendors.

For the same reason that the potential danger does not stop us making use of fire, electricity, nuclear power and chemicals. Informed usage accompanied by control is the key. Control for most organisations starts with the internal audit function. Yet auditing has not, in and of itself, been designed to detect problems that arise from the use of derivatives. While sending Barings to the grave, the youthful Nick Leeson proved that it is not necessarily difficult to hide risk-taking from standard audit procedures, or to bamboozle managers into watering down audit recommendations.

This removes the risk associated with further price changes, but preserves the original credit risk. In fact, it creates new credit risk as there is suddenly yet another party in the picture. Futures contracts have many of the characteristics of forward contracts, but with some additional features. Like a forward contract, a futures contract binds the parties to undertake a transaction in the underlying at a later date at a price agreed upon today. Unlike forward contracts, however, futures contracts are standardised, created, traded and regulated by an organised corporate entity known as a "futures exchange".

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Derivatives and the Internal Auditor by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Risk Books
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