Credit Risk Ratings and Limits

Credit Risk Ratings

A basic and key element of the credit approval process is a detailed risk assessment of each credit-relevant counterparty. When rating a counterparty we apply in-house assessment methodologies, scorecards and our 26-grade rating scale for evaluating the credit-worthiness of our counterparties. The majority of our rating methodologies are authorized for use within the advanced internal rating based approach under applicable Basel rules. Our rating scale enables us to compare our internal ratings with common market practice and promotes comparability between different sub-portfolios of our institution. Several default ratings therein enable us to incorporate the potential recovery rate of unsecured defaulted counterparty exposures. We generally rate our counterparties individually, though certain portfolios of purchased or securitized receivables are rated on a pool basis. Ratings are required to be kept up-to-date and documented.

In our retail business, creditworthiness checks and counterparty ratings of the homogenous portfolio are derived by utilizing an automated decision engine. The decision engine incorporates quantitative aspects (i.e., financial figures), behavioural aspects, credit bureau information (such as SCHUFA in Germany) and general customer data. These input factors are used by the decision engine to determine the creditworthiness of the borrower and, after consideration of collateral, the expected loss as well as the further course of action required to process the ultimate credit decision. The established rating procedures we have implemented in our retail business are based on multivariate statistical methods and are used to support our individual credit decisions for this portfolio as well as managing the overall retail portfolio.

The algorithms of the rating procedures for all counterparties are recalibrated frequently on the basis of the default history as well as other external and internal factors and expert judgments.

Postbank also makes use of internal rating systems authorized for use within the foundation internal rating based approach under Basel 2.5. All internal ratings and scorings are based on a uniform master scale, which assigns each rating or scoring result to the default probability determined for that class. Risk governance is provided by a joint risk committee structure with members from both Postbank and Deutsche Bank.

Rating Governance

All of our rating methodologies, excluding Postbank, have to be approved by the Group Credit Policy Committee (“GCPC”), a sub-committee of the Risk Executive Committee, before the methodologies are used for credit decisions and capital calculation for the first time or before they are significantly changed. Regulatory approval may be required in addition. The results of the regular validation processes as stipulated by internal policies have to be brought to the attention of the GCPC, even if the validation results do not lead to a change. The validation plan for rating methodologies is presented to GCPC at the beginning of the calendar year and a status update is given on a quarterly basis.

For Postbank, responsibility for implementation and monitoring of internal rating systems effectiveness rests with Postbank’s Risk Analytics unit and Postbank’s validation committee, chaired by Postbank’s Chief Credit Risk Officer. All rating systems are subject to Postbank’s Management Board approval. Effectiveness of rating systems and rating results are reported to the Postbank Management Board on a regular basis. Joint governance is ensured via a cross committee membership of Deutsche Bank senior managers joining Postbank committees and vice versa.

Credit Risk Measures

The key credit risk measures we apply for managing our credit portfolio, including transaction approval and the setting of risk appetite, are internal limits and credit exposures under these limits. Credit limits set forth maximum credit exposures we are willing to assume over specified periods. In determining the credit limit for a counterparty, we consider the counterparty’s credit quality by reference to our internal credit rating. Credit limits and credit exposures are both measured on a gross and net basis where net is derived by deducting hedges and certain collateral from respective gross figures. For derivatives, we look at current market values and the potential future exposure over the lifetime of a transaction. We generally also take into consideration the risk-return characteristics of individual transactions and portfolios.

Credit Approval and Authority

Credit limits are established by the Credit Risk Management function via the execution of assigned credit authorities. Credit approvals are documented by the signing of the credit report by the respective credit authority holders and retained for future reference.

Credit authority is generally assigned to individuals as personal credit authority according to the individual’s professional qualification and experience. All assigned credit authorities are reviewed on a periodic basis to help ensure that they are adequate to the individual performance of the authority holder. The results of the review are presented to the Group Credit Policy Committee.

Where an individual’s personal authority is insufficient to establish required credit limits, the transaction is referred to a higher credit authority holder or where necessary to an appropriate credit committee such as the Underwriting Committee. Where personal and committee authorities are insufficient to establish appropriate limits, the case is referred to the Management Board for approval.

Credit Risk Mitigation

In addition to determining counterparty credit quality and our risk appetite, we also use various credit risk mitigation techniques to optimize credit exposure and reduce potential credit losses. Credit risk mitigants are applied in the following forms:

Collateral Held as Security

We regularly agree on collateral to be received from or to be provided to customers in contracts that are subject to credit risk. Collateral is security in the form of an asset or third-party obligation that serves to mitigate the inherent risk of credit loss in an exposure, by either substituting the borrower default risk or improving recoveries in the event of a default. While collateral can be an alternative source of repayment, it generally does not replace the necessity of high quality underwriting standards.

We segregate collateral received into the following two types:

  • Financial and other collateral, which enables us to recover all or part of the outstanding exposure by liquidating the collateral asset provided, in cases where the borrower is unable or unwilling to fulfil its primary obligations. Cash collateral, securities (equity, bonds), collateral assignments of other claims or inventory, equipment (i.e., plant, machinery and aircraft) and real estate typically fall into this category.
  • Guarantee collateral, which complements the borrower’s ability to fulfil its obligation under the legal contract and as such is provided by third parties. Letters of credit, insurance contracts, export credit insurance, guarantees, credit derivatives and risk participations typically fall into this category.

Our processes seek to ensure that the collateral we accept for risk mitigation purposes is of high quality. This includes seeking to have in place legally effective and enforceable documentation for realizable and measureable collateral assets which are evaluated regularly by dedicated teams. The assessment of the suitability of collateral for a specific transaction is part of the credit decision and must be undertaken in a conservative way, including collateral haircuts that are applied. We have collateral type specific haircuts in place which are regularly reviewed and approved. In this regard, we strive to avoid “wrong-way” risk characteristics where the borrower’s counterparty risk is positively correlated with the risk of deterioration in the collateral value. For guarantee collateral, the process for the analysis of the guarantor’s creditworthiness is aligned to the credit assessment process for borrowers.

Risk Transfers

Risk transfers to third parties form a key part of our overall risk management process and are executed in various forms, including outright sales, single name and portfolio hedging, and securitizations. Risk transfers are conducted by the respective business units and by our Credit Portfolio Strategies Group (CPSG), in accordance with specifically approved mandates.

CPSG manages the residual credit risk of loans and lending-related commitments of the international investment-grade portfolio; the leveraged portfolio and the medium-sized German companies’ portfolio within our Corporate Divisions of CB&S and GTB.

Acting as a central pricing reference, CPSG provides the respective CB&S and GTB Division businesses with an observed or derived capital market rate for loan applications; however, the decision of whether or not the business can enter into the credit risk remains exclusively with Credit Risk Management.

CPSG is concentrating on two primary objectives within the credit risk framework to enhance risk management discipline, improve returns and use capital more efficiently:

  • to reduce single-name credit risk concentrations within the credit portfolio and
  • to manage credit exposures by utilizing techniques including loan sales, securitization via collateralized loan obligations, default insurance coverage and single-name and portfolio credit default swaps.

Netting and Collateral Arrangements for Derivatives

Netting is predominantly applicable to OTC derivative transactions as outlined below. Netting is also applied to securities financing transactions as far as documentation, structure and nature of the risk mitigation allow netting with the underlying credit risk.

In order to reduce the credit risk resulting from OTC derivative transactions, where central counterparty (CCP) clearing is not available, we regularly seek the execution of standard master agreements (such as master agreements for derivatives published by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. (ISDA) or the German Master Agreement for Financial Derivative Transactions) with our clients. A master agreement allows the netting of rights and obligations arising under derivative transactions that have been entered into under such a master agreement upon the counterparty’s default, resulting in a single net claim owed by or to the counterparty (“close-out netting”). For parts of the derivatives business (i.e., foreign exchange transactions) we also enter into master agreements under which we set off amounts payable on the same day in the same currency and in respect to transactions covered by such master agreements (“payment netting”), reducing our settlement risk. In our risk measurement and risk assessment processes we apply netting only to the extent we have satisfied ourselves of the legal validity and enforceability of the master agreement in all relevant jurisdictions.

Also, we enter into credit support annexes (“CSA”) to master agreements in order to further reduce our derivatives-related credit risk. These annexes generally provide risk mitigation through periodic, usually daily, margining of the covered exposure. The CSAs also provide for the right to terminate the related derivative transactions upon the counterparty’s failure to honour a margin call. As with netting, when we believe the annex is enforceable, we reflect this in our exposure measurement.

Certain CSAs to master agreements provide for rating dependent triggers, where additional collateral must be pledged if a party’s rating is downgraded. We also enter into master agreements that provide for an additional termination event upon a party’s rating downgrade. These downgrading provisions in CSAs and master agreements usually apply to both parties but may seldom apply to us only. We analyze and monitor our potential contingent payment obligations resulting from a rating downgrade in our stress testing approach for liquidity risk on an ongoing basis. For an assessment of the quantitative impact of a downgrading of our credit rating please refer to table “Stress Testing Results” in the section “Liquidity Risk”.

Concentrations within Credit Risk Mitigation

Concentrations within credit risk mitigations taken may occur if a number of guarantors and credit derivative providers with similar economic characteristics are engaged in comparable activities with changes in economic or industry conditions affecting their ability to meet contractual obligations. We use a range of quantitative tools and metrics to monitor our credit risk mitigating activities. These also include monitoring of potential concentrations within collateral types supported by dedicated stress tests.

For more qualitative and quantitative details in relation to the application of credit risk mitigation and potential concentration effects please refer to the section “Maximum Exposure to Credit Risk”.


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