The swift collapse of Greensill Capital earlier this year caught many off guard—namely, Credit Suisse—but the former chief risk officer of the supply chain finance startup appears to be unsurprised by the firm’s downfall.
Brett Downes this week shared his insight into what happened at Greensill upon being named chief risk officer of a similar platform: Finverity. Downes had joined Greensill in 2015 and built its risk management program from scratch over the course of five years before he was placed on leave by the board in May 2020.
Though Downes doesn’t address why he was sidelined, a statement from Finverity COO and Co-Founder Alex Fenechiu suggests raising red flags about Greensill led to the decision. Downes was stripped of his chief risk officer title and transitioned to a vice chairman role. Less than a year later, Greensill filed for insolvency.
“Sometimes doing the right thing and identifying red flags leads to people being cast aside,” said Fenechiu. “Finverity sees Brett’s experience as invaluable to our mission. To build a reliable and efficient infrastructure to invest in [supply chain finance], it is essential that we fully understand and address what can go wrong. Brett’s knowledge and insight make him ideal in this regard.”
For his part, Downes pointed to “the lack of a robust, real-time technology platform” as a “crucial factor” in Greensill’s collapse. He noted Finverity has assured him the autonomy to “manage the risk function without undue interference,” suggesting that wasn’t the case at Greensill.
Other parts of his statement hint that poor corporate governance and a lack of concentration were other factors.
At Finverity, Downes will be tasked with overseeing the risk function, enhancing risk management processes, and contributing to the development of the platform’s risk functionality. He will report directly to CEO and Co-Founder Viacheslav Oganezov and chair the firm’s credit committee.
His experience also includes stints at National Bank of Australia, Citibank, Barclays, and Commerzbank in various senior credit roles.