Monitoring and Managing Credit Risk

Ongoing active monitoring and management of Deutsche Bank’s credit risk positions is an integral part of our credit risk management framework. The key monitoring focus is on quality trends and on concentrations along the dimensions of counterparty, industry, country and product-specific risks to avoid undue concentrations of credit risk. On a portfolio level, significant concentrations of credit risk could result 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.

Our portfolio management framework supports a comprehensive assessment of concentrations within our credit risk portfolio in order to keep concentrations within acceptable levels.

Counterparty Risk Management

Credit-related counterparties are principally allocated to credit officers within credit teams which are aligned to types of counterparty (such as financial institutions, corporate or private individuals) or economic area (i.e., emerging markets) and dedicated rating analyst teams. The individual credit officers have the relevant expertise and experience to manage the credit risks associated with these counterparties and their associated credit related transactions. For retail clients credit decision making and credit monitoring is highly automated for efficiency reasons. Credit Risk Management has full oversight of the respective processes and tools used in the retail credit process. 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 there is a concern that the credit quality has deteriorated or appears likely to deteriorate to the point where they present a heightened risk of loss in default, the respective exposure is generally placed on a “watch list”. 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.

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, analyzes the risk/reward profile of the portfolio and incorporates an economic downside stress test. Finally, this analysis is used to define the credit strategies for the portfolio in question.

The Industry Batch reports are presented to the CRM Portfolio 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 regularly monitored during the year and is compared with the approved sub-portfolio strategies. Regular overviews are prepared for the CRM Portfolio Committee to discuss recent developments and to agree on actions where necessary.

Country Risk Management

Avoiding undue concentrations from a regional perspective is also an integral part of our credit risk management framework. In order to achieve this, country risk limits are applied to Emerging Markets as well as selected Developed Markets countries (based on internal country risk ratings). Emerging Markets are grouped into regions and for each region, as well as for the Higher Risk Developed Markets, a “Country Batch report” is prepared, usually on an annual basis. These reports assess key macroeconomic developments and outlook, review portfolio composition and concentration risks and analyze the risk/reward profile of the portfolio. Based on this, limits and strategies are set for countries and, where relevant, for the region as a whole. Country risk limits are approved by either our Management Board or by our Portfolio Risk Committee, a sub-committee of our Risk Executive Committee and Capital and Risk Committee, pursuant to delegated authority.

The Country Limit framework covers all major risk categories which are managed by the respective divisions in Risk:

  • Credit Risk: Limits are established for counterparty credit risk exposures in a given country to manage the aggregate credit risk subject to country-specific economic and political events. These limits include exposures to entities incorporated locally as well as subsidiaries of foreign multinational corporations. Separate Transfer Risk Limits are established as sub-limits to these counterparty credit limits and apply to Deutsche Bank’s cross-border exposures.
  • Market Risk: Limits are established to manage trading position risk in emerging markets and are set based on the P&L impact of potential stressed market events on those positions.
  • Treasury Risk: Exposures of one Deutsche Bank entity to another (Funding, Capital or Margin) are subject to limits given the transfer risk inherent in these cross-border positions.
  • Gap Risk: Limits established to manage the risk of loss due to intra-country wrong-way risk exposure.

Our country risk ratings represent a key tool in our management of country risk. They are established by the independent dbResearch function within Deutsche Bank 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”, i.e., the risk that an otherwise solvent debtor is unable to meet its obligations due to inability to obtain foreign currency or to transfer assets as a result of direct sovereign intervention.
  • Event risk rating: A measure of the probability of major disruptions in the market risk factors relating to a country (interest rates, credit spreads, etc.). Event risks are measured as part of our event risk scenarios, as described in the section “Market Risk Monitoring” of this report.

All sovereign and transfer risk ratings are reviewed, at least annually, by the Cross Risk Review Committee, although more frequent reviews are undertaken when deemed necessary.

Country risk limits and sovereign risk limits for all relevant countries are approved by the Postbank Management Board annually.

Product specific Risk Management

Complementary to our counterparty, industry and country risk approach, we focus on product specific risk concentrations and selectively set limits where required for risk management purposes. Specific product limits are set in particular if a concentration of transactions of a specific type might lead to significant losses under certain cases. In this respect, correlated losses might result from disruptions of the functioning of financial markets, significant moves in market parameters to which the respective product is sensitive, macroeconomic default scenarios or other factors affecting certain credit products. Specific product limits can either be set with regards to exposure to certain industries or affecting the total credit portfolio. We have introduced a uniform framework for the establishment and annual review of product limits for our Corporate Banking & Securities and Global Transaction Banking businesses. Exposures are monitored regularly; remediatory action is required in case of an excess of utilization over the approved limit.

A key focus is put on underwriting caps. These caps limit the combined risk for transactions where we underwrite commitments with the intention to sell down or distribute part of the risk to third parties. These commitments include the undertaking to fund bank loans and to provide bridge loans for the issuance of public bonds. The risk is that we may not be successful in the distribution of the facilities, meaning that we would have to hold more of the underlying risk for longer periods of time than originally intended. These underwriting commitments are additionally exposed to market risk in the form of widening credit spreads. We dynamically hedge this credit spread risk to be within the approved market risk limit framework.

Furthermore, in our PBC businesses, we apply product-specific strategies setting our risk appetite for sufficiently homogeneous portfolios where tailored client analysis is secondary, such as the retail portfolios of mortgages, business and consumer finance products. In Wealth Management, target levels are set for global concentration based on the liquidity of the underlying collateral.

Settlement Risk Management

Our trading activities may give rise to risk at the time of settlement of those trades. Settlement risk arises when Deutsche Bank exchanges a value of cash or other assets with a counterparty. It is the risk of loss due to the failure of a counterparty to honour its obligations (to deliver cash or other assets) to us, after we release payment or delivery of its obligations (of cash or other assets) to the counterparty.

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 contractual obligation.

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 also participate 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.

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 nondefault scenarios) are modeled by applying our own alpha factor when deriving the exposure at default for derivatives and securities financing transactions under the Basel 2.5 Internal Models Method (“IMM”). The alpha factor is identical with the one used for the risk-weighted assets calculation, yet subject to a lower floor of 1.0. For December 31, 2014 the alpha factor was calibrated to 1.11. We allocate expected losses and economic capital derived from loss distributions down to transaction level to enable management on transaction, customer and business level.


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