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Banks, Small Business and Risk

Posted by Wendell Brock on Thu, Sep 16, 2010

In the recently passed legislation, the Dodd Frank Law, the FDIC is given the mandate to change the way it assesses deposit insurance premiums from banks, mostly based on risk. This will greatly impact small businesses, by limiting their access to capital through loans. Perhaps as much or more than the recent health care bill will.

First the Law

The law “defines a risk-based system as one based on an institution’s probability of causing a loss to the Deposit Insurance Fund (the Fund or the DIF) due to the composition and concentration of the institutions assets and liabilities, the likely amount of any such loss, and the revenue needs of the DIF. …allowing the FDIC to establish separate risk-based assessment systems for large and small members of the Deposit Insurance Fund.

“Over the long-term, institutions that pose higher long-term risk will pay higher assessments when they assume those risks. …should provide incentives for institutions to avoid excessive risk.” (the information quoted is found in the following paper about the new score card produced by the FDIC located at:  The new assessments will be based on a performance score, which will be comprised of three main elements: 1) CAMELS Score, 30%; 2) Ability to withstand asset-related stress, 50%; and 3) Ability to withstand funding-related stress 20%. It is the asset-related stress that has the regulators concerned and if an institution has too much risk in that category, it will also affect the CAMELS rating, as the regulators will perceive that management is not doing their job – that of taking care of the bank.

The banker’s number one job now it to make sure that the bank never becomes a problem bank, that may cause the regulators to pay on deposits; everything else is now ancillary to that goal.

Small Businesses

All small businesses are risk rated, based on their credit score, (or the owners credit score), which becomes the basis for easy or difficult access to credit at a financial institution. At times bankers make loans to small businesses, because they understand the business, the risk associated with the business and they know the owner, even though the credit may be simply o.k. (not great, but not terribly bad either).

This new way of assessing deposit insurance will now cause the banker to ask the question – how will this loan affect the bank’s portfolio and ultimately it’s DIF assessment? As bankers ask this question more loans will be turned down. This is not to say, that all loans should be written as applied for, but as the bell curve moves towards safety, it will certainly leave a larger percentage of good small business loans unfulfilled and business owners without the much needed capital to continue in business or to grow. And we all know that when small businesses don’t continue, or fail to grow, then lay-offs occur and unemployment lines increase.

Did Congress and the regulators think this one through completely? Is there a better way to asses risk?

Topics: Bank, FDIC, banks, Regulations, FDIC Insurance Fund, Loan Grading, Risk Management, Bank Regulations, Growth, small business

Next-generation Compliance for Banks

Posted by Wendell Brock on Wed, Feb 17, 2010

Compliance. An issue most bankers don't relish. Often times it is explained away as a necessary evil! This approach makes difficult for the bank to stay on top of compliance issues and often leads to problems with examiners. This leads to compliance waves where the compliance officer works to get things ready for an exam or audit then the work load relaxes until the next exam or audit.

Based on the current state of affairs, most banks' find themselves overwhelmed with compliance workloads; they have limited staff and schedules, along with the increase demands from examiners, who want more risk management. Internal audits are conducted by just a few people, typically, they are reactionary, and they utilize outdated technology, if any technology at all. The workload is not slowing down anytime soon-if anything it is increasing.

What we propose is a complete rethinking of compliance-to what is called "Next-generation Compliance"-this is where banks are proactive with compliance rather than reactive. It smoothes out the waves and distributes the work throughout the organization, which makes the compliance load much lighter and much easier to manage. Such a change must happen on three levels: a bank's operational culture, their level of collaboration, and the technology used in audits.

I. Culture

  1. 1. Devise a compliance strategy
  2. Get executives onboard with the strategy
  3. Promote all team members to be proactive
  4. Create metrics to quantify the value of proactive compliance
    • Does compliance result in an increased speed of reporting?
    • Quality compliance management response?
    • The larger scope includes overall compliance simplicity?
    • Money and time saved?

 II. Collaboration

  1. 1. Include people from multiple departments in compliance audits
  2. Standardize process across all areas of compliance audits
  3. Be flexible, and have reasonable expectations
  4. Make your auditors business-focused, independent, strategists
    • They shouldn't be on an island
    • Promote productivity
  5. Communication with regulators
    • Involve them in the process early so they understand the improvements from the positive changes

III. Technology

  1. 1.Reassess your current compliance tools
    1. Is technology working efficiently for you?
    2. Break from the spreadsheet! You can't properly collaborate from a spreadsheet - there are easier ways
  2. Increase use of collaboration tools to centralize the compliance audit workflow
    1. With them, everyone can discuss and facilitate improved risk management
  3. Track the use of audit recommendations
    1. What good are recommendations if they aren't used?
    2. Provide continuous up-to-date analysis/status of risk management

Compliance and Banking

Regulators are asking for more risk management and compliance, but banks aren't able to address this increased workflow with more manpower. With tighter operating budgets, the solution is working smarter. Often times when a bank is not able, to deliver properly on compliance issues it results in the issuance of an MOU or a C&D to the bank. Restoration plans and strategies may be implemented and managed through continuous compliance.

If you're buying a bank, the regulatory hurdles are less. But modifying an existing bank's compliance processes requires a team effort; it's all about building a smarter bank!

If you're starting a bank, a culture of compliance can be built from the ground up as your institution evolves. A blank slate is easy to work with. But at the same time, new banks are subject to harsher regulatory scrutiny, which means compliance has to be a priority.

To learn more about Next-generation Compliance, click the link for more information. 

Topics: Buy a bank, Bank Risks, regulators, Bank Regulators, Bank Regulation, Regulations, Bank Policies, Risk Management, Bank Regulations, Building Smarter Banks, Start a bank, Smarter Banks, Restoration Plan, distressed banks, Compliance, Next-generation Compliance

Loss-sharing Arrangements Keep Failed Bank Assets in Private Sector

Posted by Wendell Brock on Fri, Jul 31, 2009

The FDIC first began using loss-sharing arrangements in 1991, as the agency managed its way through the S&L crisis. Community banks benefited from these arrangements. These arrangements are associated with purchase and assumption agreements that transfer a failed bank's assets from the FDIC to a healthy bank. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the loss-sharing arrangement has made a dramatic return to the forefront.

Under a simple loss-sharing deal, the FDIC might agree to absorb 80 percent of the losses associated with a specific pool of non-performing loans that the healthy bank acquires in the transaction. The healthy bank would absorb the first 20 percent of losses arising from that loan book. The FDIC's liability to share in these losses would last for a stated time period, such as three, five or seven years. There would be additional terms governing the deal-including maximum aggregate losses incurred by the healthy bank, FDIC reimbursement of net charge-offs of  shared loss assets, etc.

A proven strategy

Between September of 1991 and January of 1993, the FDIC made loss-sharing arrangements in connection with 24 bank failures. The aggregate value of assets covered by those arrangements was approximately $18.5 billion. After the fact, the FDIC compared the costs of purchase agreements made with and without loss-share arrangements. The agency concluded that loss-share transactions were less expensive than the conventional purchase and assumption agreements, for both large and small banks.

Besides reduced resolution costs, there are other advantages associated with loss sharing, including:

Greater incentive for the healthy bank to acquire more than just the failed bank's deposits

  • Fewer disruptions for loan customers
  • Fewer assets being absorbed and subsequently managed/liquidated by the FDIC 
  • Fewer assets being removed from the private sector

FDIC loss-share arrangements have been called a win/win, but they are not without risks. The problem assets may be a distraction to the new management team, even if the potential for financial losses is limited. Where there is no loss-share agreement, the healthy bank takes only the deposits, thus beginning operations with a clean slate.

Today's crisis

In the first seven months of 2009, the FDIC has used loss share in at least 36 out of 64 bank failures. The aggregate value of assets covered by these arrangements is roughly $20 billion. Among the largest 2009 transactions are:

BankUnited FSB, $10.7 billion covered by loss-sharing

  • Security Bank of Jones, $1.6 billion covered by loss-sharing
  • Vineyard Bank, $1.5 billion covered by loss-sharing
  • Temecula Valley Bank, $1.5 billion covered by loss-sharing

A complete list of 2009 bank failures, along with links to the associated Purchase and Assumption agreements is available here:

Topics: FDIC, Bank Failure, Risk Management, Bank Sales, community banks, Loss

FDIC’s Annual Plan: Insurance Fund and Risk Management

Posted by Wendell Brock on Thu, May 01, 2008

As we know, the FDIC is an insurance company-its primary purpose is to insure the deposits of the banks in the United States. Because the FDIC provides the insurance, the FDIC gets to make many of the rules! (Congress, of course, has its hand in rule-making also.) After all, if a bank fails, this creates a crack in the financial system. If many banks fail or an extremely large bank fails, then we experience a financial earthquake. The FDIC's job is to make sure we do not experience a crack, let alone an earthquake. This is one reason is why starting a new bank is so difficult. The regulations are tough, the experience bar for management to clear is very high, and the barriers to entry are difficult. Again, all of this is to protect the public's trust in where people place their money.

So in difficult times, as we are experiencing now, the strategic plan of the FDIC is in place to guide the regulators in managing the complex issues they experience in the financial/banking environment. The targeted loss reserves are between 1.15 and 1.50 percent of estimated insured deposits. The loss reserve is the insurance fund, which is financed by charging the banks an insurance premium based on the risk exposure of the bank and its insured deposits. This premium is derived from the FDIC's Financial Risk Committee (FRC) assessments, quarterly failure projections and loss estimates. The FRC analyzes the risk exposure of the insurance fund based on the risks of the insured banks. When bank loans go bad, the risk exposure of the bank goes up and the FRC reevaluates the risk of the fund. This, in turn, sets a new premium for the bank and for other similar banks.

The FDIC reviews the assessment history of all failed banks on an ongoing basis to determine if the system is working properly. In 2007, after much research and testing, a new risk-based assessment system was implemented through the modification of FDIC systems and business procedures. This updated system is designed to measure the risk of individual banks more accurately, which allows for the assessment of fees that are more in line with the risk level. Currently, the FDIC is the primary regulator for 5,197 state-chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System or are national banks or thrifts which are regulated by the OCC and OTS respectively.

Because of the complexity of the analysis that is required to develop accurate pricing and review the effectiveness of new regulations, the FDIC will require additional staff. Further demands will arise from the combining of the Bank Insurance Fund and the Savings Association Insurance Fund; the merger affected 48 information systems and resulted in some changes in deposit coverage. As a result, the FDIC will require new analysis techniques and will be tasked with extensive testing of the systems. All of these systems are necessary to manage the risk of consumers and businesses not being able to pay their debts, while keeping consumer and commercial deposits safe and accessible.

This enormous balancing act adds to the challenge of starting a new bank. The risks to a new bank are great because they have new capital to employ; new banks need assets on the books and many deposits to help fund the new loans. However, because of the strict regulatory controls, new banks succeed more often than not. It is rare that a de novo bank fails. If the right organizers and bank board, management team, business plan and capital are in place, chances are great that a de novo bank will succeed.

By Wendell Brock, MBA, ChFC
De Novo Strategy, Inc. 

Topics: FDIC, Bank Risks, Risk Management, Deposit Insurance Fund

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BankNotes© is published by De Novo Strategy as a service to clients and other friends. The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal, accounting, or investment advice. Should further analysis or explanation of the subject matter be required, please contact De Novo Strategy at