The Joint Forum (BIS, IOSCO, IAIS) just published a report to assist national supervisors in gaining a better understanding of the use of intra-group support measures in times of stress or unexpected loss by financial groups across the banking, insurance and securities sectors. The report provides an important overview of intra-group support measures used in practice at a time when authorities are increasingly focused on ways to ensure banks and other financial entities can be wound down in an orderly manner during periods of distress.
The Joint Forum was established in 1996 under the aegis of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) to deal with issues common to the banking, securities and insurance sectors, including the regulation of financial conglomerates.
The objective of this report prepared by the Joint Forum is to assist national supervisors in gaining a better understanding of the use of intra-group support measures in times of stress or unexpected loss by financial groups across the banking, insurance and securities sectors. The report provides an important overview of the use of intra-group support at a time when authorities are increasingly focused on ways to ensure banks and other financial entities can be wound down in an orderly manner during periods of distress. The report may also assist the thematic work contemplated by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) on deposit insurance schemes and feed into the ongoing policy development in relation to recovery and resolution plans.
The report is based on the findings of a high-level stock-take which examined the use of intra-group support measures available to banks, insurers and securities firms. The stocktake was conducted through a survey by the Joint Forum Working Group on Risk Assessment and Capital (JFRAC) that was completed by 31 financial institutions headquartered in ten jurisdictions on three continents: Europe, North America and Asia. Participants were drawn from the banking, insurance and securities sectors and from many of the jurisdictions represented by Joint Forum members. Many participating firms were large global financial institutions.
The report provides an overview and analysis of the types and frequency of intra-group support measures used in practice. It is based only on information provided by participants in the survey. Responses were verified by supervisors only in certain instances.
The survey’s main findings are as follows:
1. Intra-group support measures can vary from institution to institution, driven by the regulatory, legal and tax environment; the management style of the particular institution; and the cross-border nature of the business. Authorities should be mindful of the complicating effect of these measures on resolution regimes and the recovery process in the event of failure.
2. The majority of respondents surveyed indicated centralised capital and liquidity management systems were in place. According to proponents, this approach promotes the efficient management of a group’s overall capital level and helps maximise liquidity while reducing the cost of funds. However, the respondents that favoured a “self-sufficiency” approach pointed out that centralised management potentially has the effect of increasing contagion risk within a group in the event of distress at any subsidiaries. The use of these systems impacts the nature and design of intra-group support measures with some firms indicating that the way they managed capital and liquidity within the group was a key driver in their decisions about the intra-group transactions and support measures they used.
3. Committed facilities, subordinated loans and guarantees were the most widely used measures. This was evident across all sectors and participating jurisdictions.
4. Internal support measures generally were provided on a one-way basis (eg downstream from a parent to a subsidiary). Loans and borrowings, however, were provided in some groups on a reciprocal basis. As groups surveyed generally operated across borders, most indicated support measures were provided both domestically and internationally. Support measures were also in place between both regulated and unregulated entities and between entities in different sectors.
5. The study found no evidence of intra-group support measures either a) being implemented on anything other than an arm’s length basis, or b) resulting in the inappropriate transfer of capital, income or assets from regulated entities or in a way which generated capital resources within a group. However, this does not necessarily mean that supervisory scrutiny of intra-group support measures is unwarranted. As this report is based on industry responses, further in-depth analysis by national supervisors may provide a more complete picture of the risks potentially posed by intra-group support measures.
6. While the existing regulatory frameworks for intra-group support measures are somewhat limited, firms do have certain internal policies and procedures to manage and restrict internal transactions. Respondents pointed out that the regulatory and legal framework can make it difficult for some forms of intra-group support to come into force while supervisors aim to ensure that both regulated entities and stakeholders are protected from risks arising from the use of support measures. For instance, upstream transfers of liquidity and capital are monitored and large exposure rules can limit the extent of intra-group interaction for risk control purposes. Jurisdictional differences in regulatory settings can also pose a challenge for firms operating across borders.
7. Based on the survey and independent of remaining concerns and information gaps, single sector supervisors should be aware of the risks that intra-group support measures may pose and should fully understand the measures used by an institution, including its motivations for using certain measures over others. In order to obtain further insight into the intra-group support measures put in place by financial institutions within their jurisdiction, national supervisors should, where appropriate, conduct further analysis in this area. A high-level model questionnaire is provided in Annex II with the aim of assisting national supervisors with ongoing work relating to intra-group support measures.