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:

  • Comprehensive and enforceable credit documentation with adequate terms and conditions.
  • Collateral held as security to reduce losses by increasing the recovery of obligations.
  • Risk transfers, which shift the probability of default risk of an obligor to a third party including hedging executed by our Credit Portfolio Strategies Group.
  • Netting and collateral arrangements which reduce the credit exposure from derivatives and repo- and repo-style transactions.

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 institutional and corporate credit 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 and Securities Financing Transactions

Netting is applicable to both exchange traded derivative transactions (“futures and options”) and those traded over-the-counter (“OTC derivative transactions”). 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.

All futures and options are cleared through central counterparties (“CCPs”), which interpose itself between the trading entities by becoming the counterparty to each of the entities. Where available and to the extent agreed with our counterparties, we also use CCP clearing for our OTC derivative transactions. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“DFA”) introduced mandatory CCP clearing for certain standardized OTC derivative transactions in 2013. The European Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 on OTC Derivatives, Central Counterparties and Trade Repositories (“EMIR”) will introduce mandatory CCP clearing for certain standardized OTC derivatives transactions, currently expected to start with certain interest rate derivatives and credit derivatives in the fourth quarter of 2015. The rules and regulations of CCPs usually provide for the bilateral set off of all amounts payable on the same day and in the same currency (“payment netting”) and thereby reducing our settlement risk. Depending on the business model applied by the CCP, this payment netting applies either to all of our derivatives cleared by the CCP or at least to those that form part of the same class of derivatives. Many CCP rules and regulations also provide for the termination, close-out and netting of all cleared transactions upon the CCP’s default (“close-out netting”), which reduced our credit risk. In our risk measurement and risk assessment processes we apply close-out netting only to the extent we have satisfied ourselves of the legal validity and enforceability of the relevant CCP’s close-out netting provisions.

In order to reduce the credit risk resulting from OTC derivative transactions, where 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 counterparts. A master agreement allows for the close-out 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. For parts of the derivatives business (i.e., foreign exchange transactions) we also enter into master agreements under which payment netting applies in respect to transactions covered by such master agreements, reducing our settlement risk. In our risk measurement and risk assessment processes we apply close-out 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 also 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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