Leo M. Tilman

Leo M. Tilman is President of L.M. Tilman & Co., a strategic advisory firm that serves governments, financial institutions, corporations, and institutional investors worldwide. Prior to founding the firm, Mr. Tilman held senior positions with BlackRock as well as Bear Stearns, where he was Chief Institutional Strategist and Senior Managing Director.

Mr. Tilman teaches finance at Columbia University—his graduate as well as undergraduate alma mater. He is the author of Financial Darwinism: Create Value or Self-Destruct in a World of Risk (Wiley, 2008), co-author of The Risk Paradigm (forthcoming from Oxford, 2009), co-author of Risk Management (Wiley, 2000), and editor of Asset/Liability Management of Financial Institutions (Institutional Investor, 2003).

Mr. Tilman is a contributing editor of The Journal of Risk Finance and a frequent speaker at leading business schools and conferences worldwide. He serves on the advisory board of the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia University and on the board of directors of Atlantic Partnership. Mr. Tilman was honored by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader, joining a select group of executives, public figures and intellectuals recognized for “their professional accomplishments, commitment to society and potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.”

Leo M. Tilman's Posts

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Taming Risk in a Volatile World

Posted by Leo M. Tilman, May 30th, 2011, 2:40pm

Executives and investors fear that the world economy may be at risk of a worst-case systemic breakdown. But predictions of upcoming apocalypse have little value unless they are turned into a learning opportunity. Richard Levick and Leo Tilman outline how every firm must strive to make crisis management a part of executive decisions, strategic planning, and risk management.


Go-Anywhere Funds

The Right Idea, But Let Buyers Beware
Posted by Leo M. Tilman, March 11th, 2011, 5:05pm

A typical bond fund is always exposed to the same risks, at the mercy of market forces, and challenged to effectively react to the rapidly changing financial world. Go-Anywhere funds are a move in the right direction, a response to global challenges and volatile markets. Their wide adoption and success remain to be seen.


The Imperative of Financial Innovation

Posted by Leo M. Tilman, June 8th, 2010, 10:59pm

Financial innovation can be an important contributor to economic growth, inclusion, and prosperity. This HBR article discusses how to spot potentially viable financial innovations and a setting that encourages companies and investors to use financial products responsibly.


Responding to Pressures

AllianceBernstein Is Back in the Capital Markets Business
Posted by Leo M. Tilman, January 12th, 2010, 10:35pm

Response to competitive and earnings pressures speaks volumes about a company’s financial and cultural DNA. Some firms respond to pressures by blindly taking on more risk. Others embark on business model transformations that leverage their brand and core competencies to deliver sustainable performance. AllianceBernsetein seems to be on the right path.


Needed: Strategic Vision, Not More Regulation

Risk management and other lessons learned – one year after Lehman’s collapse
Posted by Leo M. Tilman, September 20th, 2009, 7:28pm

Many believe that in response to the financial crisis, we need better regulation – and more of it. Unfortunately, regulation is unlikely to address a fundamental behavioral dynamic at play that leads to bad decisions and value destruction. A fundamental reform of how corporate executives shape strategic vision and use risk management is needed.


Evolution is Hard Work

UBS Exits Businesses While Blackstone Adapts to the New World Order
Posted by Leo M. Tilman, May 31st, 2009, 8:25pm

Multiple rounds of job cuts at UBS and its exit from important businesses pose sharp contract to actions of Blackstone and others. The concept of a static business model helps interpret these behaviors and their potential impact on future profitability.


Government As An Agent of Natural Selection?

Diverging Fortunes of Nat City and AmTrust
Posted by Leo M. Tilman, May 18th, 2009, 8:59pm

We used to think that the world of finance was governed by natural selection. Recent government actions — beyond bailouts of failed institutions — are prompting second thoughts on the subject.


A “Hedge Fund” Named AIG

Losing $60B in a Quarter? Don’t Try it At Home
Posted by Leo M. Tilman, March 10th, 2009, 8:07am

Ben Bernanke is angry. As a “hedge fund attached to a stable insurance company,” AIG made “huge irresponsible bets” by exploiting the “gap in the regulatory system” and then took huge losses. This makes it a perfect case study.


Why Do We Need a “Bad Bank?”

The Importance of a Market for Distressed Assets
Posted by Leo M. Tilman, February 17th, 2009, 1:45pm

The creation of some version of a “bad bank” remains an integral part of the Financial Stability Plan. Here is why re-establishing a market for toxic assets is as important as shoring up the banks’ capital.


On Dentists and Delusions

State Street and Merrill Lynch Losses Show the Lack of Transparency
Posted by Leo M. Tilman, February 15th, 2009, 12:48pm

Some Wall Street executives have long likened their jobs to those of dentists who “tap” and “poke” at complex trades or esoteric holdings. Such outdated risk management tools tend to perpetuate delusions, leading to inevitable sad endings. State Street and Merrill Lynch are cases in point.


Financial Darwinism explores the origins, drivers, and implications of the ongoing tectonic financial shift. It then equips executives and investors with actionable approaches to creating lasting economic value amidst complexity and uncertainty.



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