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November 21, 2023

Real Estate Risk in Volatile Times

Hear veteran risk manager, advisor and professor Clifford Rossi’s viewpoints on trends, threats and opportunities in the commercial and residential real estate markets.

The past couple of years have been an extremely challenging time for risk practitioners charged with measuring and managing real estate risk. In both commercial real estate and residential real estate, concerns have been raised globally about interest rates, inflation and economic uncertainty. Indeed, in a recent Federal Reserve survey on salient risks – part of the Fed’s October Financial Stability Report – roughly 75 percent of respondents cited the potential for “large losses on CRE and residential real estate.”

CRE, more specifically, has been plagued by escalating vacancy rates for office buildings, thanks in part to the remote work trend that started during the pandemic and has since taken off. Residential real estate, meanwhile, has dealt with worries about housing affordability.

As a former CRO at multiple banks and as an ex-senior risk manager at Fannie Mae and Freddi Mac, Cliff Rossi, our honored guest today, knows all about the CRE and residential real estate risks facing financial institutions today. Cliff, the current Director of the Smith Enterprise Risk Consortium at the University of Maryland (UMD), speaks with GARP editorial director Robert Sales about global real estate concerns and challenges, and offers advice on how firms can more effectively manage their exposures.

Speaker’s Bio

Clifford Rossi (PhD) is the Director of the Smith Enterprise Risk Consortium at the University of Maryland (UMD) and a Professor-of-the-Practice and Executive-in-Residence at UMD’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. He is also the author of GARP’s monthly “CRO Outlook” column.

Prior to entering academia, Rossi had nearly 25 years of experience in banking and government, having held senior executive roles in risk management at several of the largest financial services companies. His most recent position was Managing Director and Chief Risk Officer for Citigroup’s Consumer Lending Group, where he was responsible for overseeing the risk of a $300+B global portfolio of mortgage, home equity, student loans and auto loans with 700 employees under his direction. While there he was intimately involved in Citi’s TARP and stress test activities. He also served as Chief Credit Officer at Washington Mutual (WaMu) and as Managing Director and Chief Risk Officer at Countrywide Bank.

Previous to these assignments, Rossi held senior risk management positions at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. He started his career during the thrift crisis at the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Domestic Finance and later at the Office of Thrift Supervision working on key policy issues affecting depositories. Rossi was also an adjunct professor in the Finance Department at the Robert H. Smith School of Business for eight years and has numerous academic and nonacademic articles on banking industry topics. Rossi is frequently quoted on financial policy issues in major newspapers and has appeared on such programs as C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and CNN’s Situation Room. His book for risk practitioners and graduate students, A Risk Professional's Survival Guide, was published in 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. His research interests are in financial and nonfinancial risk management, risk governance and analytics and climate risk.


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