Basel III misses opportunity to break down the silo culture in banking

Toronto, London - 4 October 2010

Algorithmics questions the missing link between capital and liquidity

Algorithmics, the world's leading provider of risk solutions,today publishes the first comprehensive assessment of all the elements of Basel III, and finds them lacking in their conceptual approach to capital and liquidity.

The raft of proposals from the Basel Committee includes the headline-grabbing tier 1 capital ratio, buffer building, and leverage and liquidity ratios, which are all significant in their own right. However, having assessed all the regulatory documents from a holistic rather than risk silo perspective, Algorithmics’ research paper, titled ‘Basel III: What’s New? – Business and Technological Challenges’, identifies the fundamental flaw of failing to reflect the true relationship between liquidity and capital.

One of the report’s authors, Dr Mario Onorato, Head of Balance Sheet & Capital Management at Algorithmics, and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Cass Business School in London, says, “Continuing to view capital as a primary mitigant of liquidity risk fails to recognise the complete nature of liquidity risk. Should a liquidity situation arise and the bank uses reserves set aside to absorb losses and meet obligations, the value of the company and of the capital are also likely to decline, because the bank will begin to be perceived as ‘riskier’. Liquidity risk and capital are therefore inextricably linked and cannot be addressed as separate silos.”

Basel III goes only part way to addressing the weaknesses of the established silo-based approach to risk management. The compartmentalized, prescriptive nature of the liquidity coverage ratio and net stable funding ratio within Basel III is unhelpful because it does not reflect the capital-liquidity interplay. This summer’s European Bank stress tests did not touch on liquidity, the very thing that crippled the markets during the recent crisis. The avoidance of a repeat occurrence is a key Basel III objective.

Regardless of regulatory gaps, Dr Onorato suggests stakeholders’ demands for better governance will result in banks amending their risk processes and systems in order to view risk holistically for all their legal entities, from both a bottom up and top down perspective.

“A truly effective risk management system will take a holistic approach to risk measurement and reporting; viewing and managing the interconnections between all risk factors, such that their potential impact on the balance sheet and stakeholders’ interests can be properly accounted for.” says Dr Onorato

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