Monitoring Credit Risk


Ongoing active monitoring and management of credit risk positions is an integral part of our credit risk management activities. Monitoring tasks are primarily performed by the divisional risk units in close cooperation with our portfolio management function.

Credit counterparties are allocated to credit officers within specified divisional risk units which are aligned to types of counterparty (such as Financial Institution or Corporate). The individual credit officers within these divisional risk units have the relevant expertise and experience to manage the credit risks associated with these counterparties and their associated credit related transactions. It is the responsibility of each credit officer to undertake ongoing credit monitoring for their allocated portfolio of counterparties. We also have procedures in place intended to identify at an early stage credit exposures for which there may be an increased risk of loss. In instances where we have identified counterparties where problems might arise, the respective exposure is generally placed on a watchlist. We aim to identify counterparties that, on the basis of the application of our risk management tools, demonstrate the likelihood of problems well in advance in order to effectively manage the credit exposure and maximize the recovery. The objective of this early warning system is to address potential problems while adequate options for action are still available. This early risk detection is a tenet of our credit culture and is intended to ensure that greater attention is paid to such exposures.

At Postbank largely similar processes are in place.

A key focus of our credit risk management approach is to avoid any undue concentrations in our portfolio. Significant concentrations of credit risk could be derived from having material exposures to a number of counterparties with similar economic characteristics, or who are engaged in comparable activities, where these similarities may cause their ability to meet contractual obligations to be affected in the same manner by changes in economic or industry conditions. A concentration of credit risk may also exist at an individual counterparty level. Our portfolio management framework provides a direct measure of concentrations within our credit risk portfolio.

Managing industry and, country risk are key components of our overall concentration risk management approach for non-Postbank portfolios. Settlement risk is also considered as part of our overall credit risk management activities.

In 2010 Postbank enhanced the management of concentrations in the credit area by systematically identifying credit concentration on the level of a single counterparty as well as on a sectoral level (e.g. industry sector, regions, collateral types).

Industry Risk Management

To manage industry risk, we have grouped our Corporate and Financial Institutions counterparties into various industry sub-portfolios. For each of these sub-portfolios an “Industry Batch report” is prepared usually on an annual basis. This report highlights industry developments and risks to our credit portfolio, reviews concentration risks and incorporates an economic downside stress test. This analysis is used to define strategies for both our industry portfolio, and individual counterparties within the portfolio based on their risk/reward profile and potential.

The Industry Batch reports are presented to the Group Credit Policy Committee, a sub-committee of the Risk Executive Committee and are submitted afterwards to the Management Board. In accordance with an agreed schedule, a select number of Industry Batch reports are also submitted to the Risk Committee of the Supervisory Board. In addition to these Industry Batch reports, the development of the industry sub-portfolios is constantly monitored during the year and is compared to the approved sub-portfolio strategies. Regular overviews are prepared for the Group Credit Policy Committee to discuss recent developments and to take action if necessary.

Country Risk Management

Avoiding undue concentrations also from a regional perspective is an integral part of our credit risk management framework. We manage country risk through a number of risk measures and limits, the most important being:

  • Total counterparty exposure. All credit extended and OTC derivatives exposure to counterparties domiciled in a given country that we view as being at risk due to economic or political events (“country risk event”). It includes nonguaranteed subsidiaries of foreign entities and offshore subsidiaries of local clients.
  • Transfer risk exposure. Credit risk arising where an otherwise solvent and willing debtor is unable to meet its obligations due to the imposition of governmental or regulatory controls restricting its ability either to obtain foreign exchange or to transfer assets to nonresidents (a “transfer risk event”). It includes all of our credit extended and OTC derivatives exposure from one of our offices in one country to a counterparty in a different country.
  • Highly-stressed event risk scenarios. We use stress testing to measure potential risks on our trading positions and view these as market risk.

Our country risk ratings represent a key tool in our management of country risk. They are established by an independent country risk research function within our Credit Risk Management function and include:

  • Sovereign rating. A measure of the probability of the sovereign defaulting on its foreign or local currency obligations.
  • Transfer risk rating. A measure of the probability of a “transfer risk event.”
  • Event risk rating. A measure of the probability of major disruptions in the market risk factors relating to a country.

All sovereign and transfer risk ratings are reviewed, at least annually, by the Group Credit Policy Committee, a sub-committee of our Risk Executive Committee. Our country risk research group also reviews, at least quarterly, our ratings for the major Emerging Markets countries. Ratings for countries that we view as particularly volatile, as well as all event risk ratings, are subject to continuous review.

We also regularly compare our internal risk ratings with the ratings of the major international rating agencies.

Country Risk limits are reviewed at least annually, in conjunction with the review of country risk ratings. Country Risk limits are set by either our Management Board or by our Cross Risk Review Committee, a sub-committee of our Risk Executive Committee pursuant to delegated authority.

We charge our group divisions with the responsibility of managing their country risk within the approved limits. The regional units within Credit Risk Management monitor our country risk based on information provided by our finance function. Our Group Credit Policy Committee also reviews data on transfer risk.

Important elements of the country risk management at Postbank are country risk ratings and country risk limits. Ratings are reviewed and adjusted if required by means of a rating tool on a monthly basis. Country risk limits and sovereign risk limits for all relevant countries are approved by the Management Board annually. Loans are charged to the limits with their gross nominal amounts and allocated to individual countries based on the country of domicile of the borrower.

Settlement Risk Management

Our trading activities may give rise to risk at the time of settlement of those trades. Settlement risk is the risk of loss due to the failure of a counterparty to honor its obligations to deliver cash, securities or other assets as contractually agreed.

For many types of transactions, we mitigate settlement risk by closing the transaction through a clearing agent, which effectively acts as a stakeholder for both parties, only settling the trade once both parties have fulfilled their sides of the bargain.

Where no such settlement system exists, the simultaneous commencement of the payment and the delivery parts of the transaction is common practice between trading partners (free settlement). In these cases, we may seek to mitigate our settlement risk through the execution of bilateral payment netting agreements. We are also participant in industry initiatives to reduce settlement risks. Acceptance of settlement risk on free settlement trades requires approval from our credit risk personnel, either in the form of pre-approved settlement risk limits, or through transaction-specific approvals. We do not aggregate settlement risk limits with other credit exposures for credit approval purposes, but we take the aggregate exposure into account when we consider whether a given settlement risk would be acceptable.

Credit Risk Tools – Economic Capital for Credit Risk

We calculate economic capital for the default risk, country risk and settlement risk as elements of credit risk. In line with our economic capital framework, economic capital for credit risk is set at a level to absorb with a probability of 99.98 % very severe aggregate unexpected losses within one year. For December 31, 2010, we included Postbank in our calculation of economic capital usage, which has been calculated on a basis consistent with Deutsche Bank methodology. Limitations in data availability, however, may result in portfolio effects that are not fully estimated and thereby resulting in over- or underestimation.

Our economic capital for credit risk is derived from the loss distribution of a portfolio via Monte Carlo Simulation of correlated rating migrations. The loss distribution is modeled in two steps. First, individual credit exposures are specified based on parameters for the probability of default, exposure at default and loss given default. In a second step, the probability of joint defaults is modeled through the introduction of economic factors, which correspond to geographic regions and industries. The simulation of portfolio losses is then performed by an internally developed model, which takes rating migration and maturity effects into account. Effects due to wrong-way derivatives risk (i.e., the credit exposure of a derivative in the default case is higher than in non default scenarios) are modeled after the fact by applying our own alpha factor determined for our use of the Basel II Internal Models Method. We allocate expected losses and economic capital derived from loss distributions down to transaction level to enable management on transaction, customer and business level.

Employing a similar approach, Postbank calculates a credit value-at-risk (“CVaR”) at 99.93 % confidence over a one year time horizon for all Postbank exposures subject to credit risk.

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