How to help ‘stressed out’ banks

By Simon Goldsmith, Head of Risk Solutions, SAS UK & Ireland

The plans for tougher, more robust stress tests recently laid out by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, is a further sign that the Wild West days are over. The banking industry and regulators have tightened up the approach to risk, aiming to shift the financial system to one that absorbs rather than amplifies shocks. But meeting the new tests is proving stressful for the banks themselves.

Every year it seems regulators increase their demands – with more complex scenarios, enhanced governance requirements and more scrutiny of results – leaving banks concerned that their current processes and systems are no longer adequate.

This year’s tests take into account 120 market variables and assess the ability of large banks to withstand major external shocks, such as a significant downturn in China, a contraction in the Eurozone, and a fall in UK interest rates to zero. One bank I’ve been speaking with has created a million data segments for stress testing purposes alone.

The problem facing many banks is making sure they have sufficient data quality systems in place to get sensible answers from all this data. Most established banks are not in a position to completely replace their IT systems. Instead, they need help to develop a plan that can get them to where they need to be in the short term based on where they are now. Fundamentally, for the time being at least, it’s about compliance. Banks then hope to be in a position to generate longer-term business value from having a clearer understanding of risk exposure right across the business, but this will require reviews and updates to the IT architecture over a period of years.

For now, banks need to be able to re-engineer and upgrade their stress testing processes to meet regulatory demands. Specific elements include:

  • Enhanced capture and validation of finance and risk data by the stress testing process.
  • Establishing rigorous governance and control over data and models.
  • Accelerating analysis and validation of stress testing results using automated checks, workflow and visual analytics.

For more insight into how banks can tackle the growing regulatory burden, download our white paper, Evolution of Regulatory Capital Planning, Measurement and Management.

With more data points, scenarios and considerations, the 2015 stress tests will undoubtedly be more robust than before. This is why financial institutions are beginning to use sophisticated model management factories, scenario testing engines and governance models to help them. It's now possible to reduce the manual effort required to appropriately inventory, manage, document, communicate, monitor change, and audit all of a bank’s models – as well as easily share information for effective top-down model risk reporting. And it’s possible to ease the burden of regulatory reporting in particular by using solutions that pre-populate regulatory documents from a single-source data repository.

Simon Goldsmith

Simon Goldsmith develops risk solutions for banks and insurers as Head of Risk Solutions, SAS UK & Ireland. He has over 25 years’ experience in business across a broad spectrum of industries and business functions. He is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Marketer and has a Natural Sciences degree from Cambridge University.

Bank stress testing

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