Philip Lawton’s New Book Addresses Middle Office Concerns

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Art by John Rubino Expresses the Human Side of Catastrophic Events

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"In times like these, managing financial institutions means achieving genuine cooperation and probing the insights of people throughout the organization."

Philip Lawton’s new book, "Middle Office: Managing Financial Institutions in Turbulent Times," deals with the urgent, complex challenges that face banking and investment professionals in the areas of leadership, regulatory change, financial and operational risk management, investment performance measurement, and client reporting.

Artist John Rubino adds another dimension to "Middle Office" with photographs of the steel sculptures in his series, “Anatomy of a Calamity.” Rubino’s premise is, “Most catastrophic events, whether they be severe illness, accident, natural disaster, personal assault, or other traumatic event all follow a similar path as the survivor passes through life from before the incident, through the calamity, recovery, and a final re-definition of self.” Lawton said, “Anyone who has lived through a takeover, a bankruptcy, or a financial, operational, or reputational risk event that threatened their firm’s viability will sense the power of John’s sculptures.”

Tom Robinson, Managing Director of the Education Division at CFA Institute, said, “Philip Lawton’s writing provides an insightful look at issues affecting compliance, performance measurement, client reporting, and risk management for financial services firms. Lawton is adept at making complex topics understandable and keeping the reader up to date with current issues impacting financial firms.”

Best known for his role in developing the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM®) credential at CFA Institute, Lawton has also worked at major banks and insurance companies. His professional experience and wide reading are in evidence throughout the new book. Previously he joined Holly H. Miller in co-authoring "The Top Ten Operational Risks: A Survival Guide for Investment Management Firms and Hedge Funds."

Karen Becker said, “So refreshing, someone who actually understands the middle office, the value it can add, as well as the risk. Jargon and operational details may not be where senior management and the legal department want to go, but it is a necessity, and Philip Lawton is helping to close the gap.” Becker is Senior Vice President, Securities Operations and Chief Compliance Officer, Funds, at Calvert Investments.

Lawton admits that the term ‘middle office’ represents “a concept, not an organizational reality, and an ill-defined concept at that.” Rather than attempting a formal definition, he suggests that the middle office is “staffed by professionals whose responsibilities importantly include supporting the firm’s internal decision-making processes,” and he argues that compliance officers, as well as risk managers and performance analysts, belong to the middle office. “Far from demoting compliance officers,” Lawton said, “this view accentuates their potential contribution to effective firm management.”

The 208-page book has four sections: Leadership, Ethics, and Training; Regulatory Compliance; Risk Management; and Investment Performance Measurement and Client Reporting. However, due to the complexity of many issues, the assignment of specific essays to one part rather than another was often somewhat arbitrary. “In times like these,” Lawton said, “managing financial institutions means achieving genuine cooperation and probing the insights of people throughout the organization. The middle office is especially well-positioned to frame the issues, ferret out and analyze whatever information is available, and engage internal problem-solving resources wherever they are to be found.”

"Middle Office: Managing Financial Institutions in Turbulent Times" is available in paperback and Kindle versions. For more information, please visit

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Philip Lawton

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