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MGT604 - Management of Financial Institutions - Lecture Handout 41

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DFIs & Risk Management

Risks are usually defined by the adverse impact on profitability of several distinct sources of uncertainty. While the types and degree of risks an organization may be exposed to depend upon a number of factors such as its size, complexity business activities, volume etc, it is believed that generally the banks face Credit, Market, Liquidity, Operational,
Compliance / legal / regulatory and reputation risks. Before overarching these risk categories, given below are some basics about risk Management and some guiding principles to manage risks in banking organization.

Risk Management

Risk management is the human activity which integrates recognition of risk, risk assessment, developing strategies to manage it, and mitigation of risk using managerial resources. The strategies include transferring the risk to another party, avoiding the risk, reducing the negative effect of the risk, and accepting some or all of the consequences of a
particular risk. Some traditional risk managements are focused on risks stemming from physical or legal causes (e.g. natural disasters or fires, accidents, death and lawsuits). Financial risk management, on the other hand, focuses on risks that can be managed using traded financial instruments. Objective of risk management is to reduce different risks
related to a pre-selected domain to the level accepted by society. It may refer to numerous types of threats caused by environment, technology, humans, organizations and politics. On the other hand it involves all means available for humans, or in particular, for a risk management entity (person, staff, and organization). In every financial institution of
Pakistan, risk management activities broadly take place simultaneously at following different hierarchy levels.

  • Strategic level: It encompasses risk management functions performed by senior management. For instance definition of risks, ascertaining institutions risk appetite, formulating strategy and policies for managing risks and establish adequate systems and controls to ensure that overall risk remain within acceptable level and the reward compensate for the risk taken.
  • Macro Level: It encompasses risk management within a business area or across business lines. Generally the risk management activities performed by middle management or units devoted to risk reviews fall into this category.
  • Micro Level: It involves ‘On-the-line’ risk management where risks are actually created. This is the risk management activities performed by individuals who take risk on organization’s behalf such as front office and loan origination functions. The risk management in those areas is confined to following operational procedures and guidelines set by management.

Managing Credit Risk

Credit Risk is the risk of loss due to a debtor's non-payment of a loan or other line of credit (either the principal or interest (coupon) or both). Credit risk arises from the potential that an obligor is either unwilling to perform on an obligation or its ability to perform such obligation is impaired resulting in economic loss to the bank. In a bank’s portfolio, losses stem from outright default due to inability or unwillingness of a customer or counter party to meet commitments in relation to lending, trading, settlement and other financial transactions. Alternatively losses may result from reduction in portfolio value due to actual or perceived deterioration in credit quality. Credit risk emanates from a bank’s dealing with individuals, corporate, financial institutions or a sovereign. For most banks, loans are the largest and most obvious source of credit risk; however, credit risk could stem from activities both on and off balance sheet. In addition to direct accounting loss, credit risk should be viewed in the context of economic exposures. This encompasses opportunity costs, transaction costs and expenses associated with a non-performing asset over and above the accounting loss.

Managing Market Risk

It is the risk that the value of on and off-balance sheet positions of a financial institution will be adversely affected by movements in market rates or prices such as interest rates, foreign exchange rates, equity prices, credit spreads and/or commodity prices resulting in a loss to earnings and capital. Financial institutions may be exposed to Market Risk in variety of ways. Market risk exposure may be explicit in portfolios of securities / equities and instruments that are actively traded. Conversely it may be implicit such as interest rate risk due to mismatch of loans and deposits. Besides, market risk may also arise from activities categorized as off-balance sheet item. Therefore market risk is potential for loss resulting from adverse movement in market risk factors such as interest rates, forex rates, equity and commodity prices.

Managing Liquidity Risk

Liquidity risk is the potential for loss to an institution arising from either its inability to meet its obligations or to fund increases in assets as they fall due without incurring unacceptable cost or losses. Liquidity risk is considered a major risk for banks. It arises when the cushion provided by the liquid assets are not sufficient enough to meet its obligation. In such a situation banks often meet their liquidity requirements from market.

However conditions of funding through market depend upon liquidity in the market and borrowing institution’s liquidity. Accordingly an institution short of liquidity may have to undertake transaction at heavy cost resulting in a loss of earning or in worst case scenario the liquidity risk could result in bankruptcy of the institution if it is unable to undertake transaction even at current market-prices. Banks with large off-balance sheet exposures or the banks, which rely heavily on large corporate deposit, have relatively high level of liquidity risk. Further the banks experiencing a rapid growth in assets should have major concern for liquidity.

Managing Operational Risk

Operational risk is the risk of loss resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes, people and system or from external events. Operational risk is associated with human error, system failures and inadequate procedures and controls. It is the risk of loss arising from the potential that inadequate information system; technology failures, breaches in internal controls, fraud, unforeseen catastrophes, or other operational problems may result in unexpected losses or reputation problems. Operational risk exists in all products and business activities. Operational risk event types that have the potential to result in substantial losses includes Internal fraud, External fraud, employment practices and workplace safety, clients, products and business practices, business disruption and system failures, damage to physical assets, and finally execution, delivery and process management. The objective of operational risk management is the same as for credit, market and liquidity risks that is to find out the extent of the financial institution’s operational risk exposure; to understand what drives it, to allocate capital against it and identify trends internally and externally that would help predicting it. The management of specific operational risks is not a new practice; it has always been important for banks to try to prevent fraud, maintain the integrity of internal controls, and reduce errors in transactions
processing, and so on. However, what is relatively new is the view of operational risk management as a comprehensive practice comparable to the management of credit and market risks in principles. Failure to understand and manage operational risk, which is present in virtually all banking transactions and activities, may greatly increase the likelihood that some risks will go unrecognized and uncontrolled.

Currency Risk

  • Currency Risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged.
  • Transaction Risk is the risk that exchange rates will change un-favorably over time. It can be hedged against using forward currency contracts;
  • Translation Risk is an accounting risk, proportional to the amount of assets held in foreign currencies. Changes in the exchange rate over time will render a report inaccurate, and so assets are usually balanced by borrowings in that currency. The exchange risk associated with a foreign denominated instrument is a key element in foreign investment. This risk flows from differential monetary policy and growth in real productivity, which results in differential inflation rates.
  • Interest Rate Risk is the risk that the relative value of an interest-bearing asset, such as a loan or a bond, will worsen due to an interest rate increase. In general, as rates rise, the price of a fixed rate bond will fall, and vice versa. Interest rate risk is commonly measured by the bond's duration, the oldest of the many techniques now
    used to manage interest rate risk. Asset liability management is a common name for the complete set of techniques used to manage risk within a general enterprise risk management framework.