One of the worst aspects of my Job - Heavy financial risk due to human error.

I hate going into detail about what I do because I fear possible implications of doing so to a public that might include some of our customers. (Not because what I do is immoral… It may be immoral to religious types and prudes but those people don’t matter). Far that reason I am being deliberately vague in this OP.

The thing I may hate most (or at least hate at the moment) is the ease with which it is, through human error (forgetfulness or not paying enough attention), possible to lose tens of thousands of dollars at once. This thing happened yesterday and was discovered this morning at 4:30am. I logged in remotely from home to damage-limit the mistake.

I hate the sick feeling you get when you get the news that one of these mistakes has happened. I hate that you work your ass off to recover from it (I was logged in bleary eyed for several hours running system commands and checking thousands of transactions) knowing full well that when senior Management get the email of doom they will give you the third degree.

I hate that when I get the third degree I won’t have a good enough answer for them.

It’s times like this that I feel the world fall from under my feet and I seriously consider giving up a well paid job to seek alternative employment in a less risky environment.

Luckily that didn’t last more than about 5 minutes. I wouldn’t be much of a Manager if I let myself be defeated by these things. I rang work back and gave a few instructions, then logged in to be at work at home (as happens all too often at fuckoff-oclock in the morning). Once the panic was over and the work done I could concentrate on anticipating the fallout and expecting the flack. (And by expecting it resolve not to react to it as if it’s unfair)

I hate that these things ruin a blisfull rest and probably some nice dreams I am sure I was having or about to have. I don’t get those very often.

So, to be a litle less vague, who is making these mistakes?

Are customers making mistakes and losing their own money?

Is your staff making mistakes, and losing customers’ money? Or losing the company money?

Staff making mistakes, losing the company money by ensuring that customer money is not lost.

The mistakes are few and far between so there isn’t an inherent human problem. The problem is that it’s a system that leaves room for human nature to make mistakes and forget things. It’s very complex.

I may be off with your specifics, but at least metaphorically, it sounds like a form of derivative trading - trading financial instruments that are so far removed from actual production that it smacks of “Confessions of an Economic Terrorist,” or that twit who took down Barings PLC by throwing good money after bad to hide his losses. The wrong execution of a transaction - trade, put, call, whatever - can have big monetary implications.

Yeah, pressure like that can be huge and finding a job of similar responsibility but less pure, transactional, push-the-button-or-not pressure can be a good thing. It can be very hard to hold onto feeling like you are contributing to the common good when you are moving big money…

And by the way… I’m sick of having to work outside work hours sometimes at stupid times without any kind of consultancy or callout fee!

I once took a job with a company that was a client of my consulting business. They practically threw money at me to get me to take it.

Instead of doing what the job description called for, the company figured a good first project for me would be collecting a bundle of owed fees that were aged at least 18 months. Human error (failure to bill accurately and on time) was responsible for a failure to collect, and the out-of-pocket dollars involved could have paid the yearly salaries of several people in executive management.

I collected some of it, not all of it. When I started turning over rocks, I found that all the hard work people did at this company wasn’t being paid for, mainly because of human error. Account executives were simply blowing off billing tasks, creating a cash flow problem. They would bill whatever the estimating system told them to bill, and if there was a discrepancy, they’d simply blow off correcting it. Clients were refusing to pay until bills were reconciled appropriately. I found out the problem was systemic. We executed everything very well, up until the point where human error in billing fouled everything up.

Eighteen months later, I was let go. The CEO told me I represented too large a line item in terms of salary to keep on board. Never mind that I did more to collect money owed the company than most of their account managers did. Never mind that I was bringing in more fees than many people who made more money than me. Never mind that account managers who were staying on had made billing errors that, if corrected, could have paid my salary many times over.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I became my own boss, and now I know that if there’s a human error, it’s either directly or indirectly my fault. It’s a fairly flat organization, and it would be tough for the actions of just one person to put us in the poor house. Live and die by your own merits, I always say. The company that fired me has become one of my clients. They pay up front. On retainer.

Why would that be immoral to prudes?

I’m really having a hard time grasping what the OP is about.

By prudes I meant those who think people shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy things.
Rather than give anything away I’ll just say that the rant has been had and there’s no real need to explain what I’m on about… above satisfying curiosity.

The main point I am making is that I hate that a simple mistake can have huge consequences, and the stress it causes me as the Manager of the dept where these mistakes can happen.

OK, no problem.

I’ll give my example. I used to work in a bank where they did overnight arbitrage of excess (under) cash. Since the amount was in the millions, if someone input a debit for a credit (or vice versa), there could be thousands of dollars in lost opportunity cost every day. In addition, if someone didn’t correctly identify the overage or underage of cash, there could be lost opportunity cost in the thousands as well (depending on the prevailing interest rate and the amount of cash).

But as far as I know, prudes ate that stuff up. Straight-laced people love to find ways of legally making extra money.

As far as stress goes, I don’t think it’s any more stressful than other other job. The numbers are bigger but it’s not like it’s your money. When the downside is large, the upside is equally large, so it hopefully evens out in the long run. If one is doing a decent job, no one expects perfection.