Stephen Lobo, the executive hired to be the first head of risk management at American Express Financial Advisors, said he does not expect the job to require major repair work.
The Minneapolis asset management subsidiary of American Express Co. announced on Tuesday that it had hired Mr. Lobo to recommend its investment strategies and to oversee its risk management policies and monitoring process.
Risk management has been the unit's trouble spot this year. American Express was forced to charge off $826 million in writedowns from high-yield investment securities in the second quarter and $182 million in the first.
Mr. Lobo, who starts his new position Sept. 4, comes from U.S. Bancorp, also in Minneapolis. He was a senior vice president at its treasury department, where he was responsible for interest rate risk management and the company's investment portfolio. He left after Firstar Corp. acquired U.S. Bancorp in February and filled his position with Kevin Storm from Firstar.
Mr. Lobo said in an interview that he had no plans for changes yet, as he wanted to assess the policies in place, but that he was confident that the high-yield trouble is behind his new employer. "My understanding is that most of the work is done to clean that portfolio up," he said.
James Cracchiolo, the unit's chief executive officer, told investors on Aug. 1 that he did not foresee further chargeoffs and reiterated that over the long term he wants to increase the unit's profits by 12% to 15%, though he did not specify targets for this year. On July 23, American Express reported that the unit had a second-quarter loss of $307 million.
Tom Joyce, a spokesman for the unit, said the writedowns had made hiring Mr. Lobo more urgent but were not the reason he was hired. The company had planned to reassess the risk management portfolio since early this year and created Mr. Lobo's position as part of that effort, he said.
Mr. Lobo said his new job might be more complex than his old one, but "it's not as if there is something to fix there. The job of a risk manager is to break risk down, and that approach will be the same. Just the instruments and investments I am looking at may be slightly different."