Financial Assets and Liabilities

The Group classifies its financial assets and liabilities into the following categories: financial assets and liabilities at fair value through profit or loss, loans, financial assets available for sale (“AFS”) and other financial liabilities. The Group does not classify any financial instruments under the held-to-maturity category. Appropriate classification of financial assets and liabilities is determined at the time of initial recognition or when reclassified in the Consolidated Balance Sheet.

Financial instruments classified at fair value through profit or loss and financial assets classified as AFS are recognized or derecognized on trade date, which is the date on which the Group commits to purchase or sell the asset or issue or repurchase the financial liability.

Financial Assets and Liabilities at Fair Value through Profit or Loss

The Group classifies certain financial assets and financial liabilities as either held for trading or designated at fair value through profit or loss. They are carried at fair value and presented as financial assets at fair value through profit or loss and financial liabilities at fair value through profit or loss, respectively. Related realized and unrealized gains and losses are included in net gains (losses) on financial assets/liabilities at fair value through profit or loss. Interest on interest earning assets such as trading loans and debt securities and dividends on equity instruments are presented in interest and similar income for financial instruments at fair value through profit or loss.

Trading Assets and Liabilities – Financial instruments are classified as held for trading if they have been originated, acquired or incurred principally for the purpose of selling or repurchasing them in the near term, or they form part of a portfolio of identified financial instruments that are managed together and for which there is evidence of a recent actual pattern of short-term profit-taking. Trading assets include debt and equity securities, derivatives held for trading purposes, commodities and trading loans. This includes also physical commodities that are held by the Group’s commodity trading business, at fair value less costs to sell. Trading liabilities consist primarily of derivative liabilities and short positions

Financial Instruments Designated at Fair Value through Profit or Loss – Certain financial assets and liabilities that do not meet the definition of trading assets and liabilities are designated at fair value through profit or loss using the fair value option. To be designated at fair value through profit or loss, financial assets and liabilities must meet one of the following criteria: (1) the designation eliminates or significantly reduces a measurement or recognition inconsistency; (2) a group of financial assets or liabilities or both is managed and its performance is evaluated on a fair value basis in accordance with a documented risk management or investment strategy; or (3) the instrument contains one or more embedded derivatives unless: (a) the embedded derivative does not significantly modify the cash flows that otherwise would be required by the contract; or (b) it is clear with little or no analysis that separation is prohibited. In addition, the Group allows the fair value option to be designated only for those financial instruments for which a reliable estimate of fair value can be obtained. Financial assets and liabilities which are designated at fair value through profit or loss, under the fair value option, include repurchase and reverse repurchase agreements, certain loans and loan commitments, debt and equity securities and structured note liabilities.

Loan Commitments

Certain loan commitments are classified as derivatives held for trading or designated at fair value through profit or loss under the fair value option. All other loan commitments remain off-balance sheet. Therefore, the Group does not recognize and measure changes in fair value of these off-balance sheet loan commitments that result from changes in market interest rates or credit spreads. However, as specified in the discussion “Impairment of Loans and Provision for Off-Balance sheet positions”, these off-balance sheet loan commitments are assessed for impairment individually and where appropriate, collectively.

Loans

Loans include originated and purchased non-derivative financial assets with fixed or determinable payments that are not quoted in an active market and which are not classified as financial assets at fair value through profit or loss or financial assets AFS. An active market exists when quoted prices are readily and regularly available from an exchange, dealer, broker, industry group, pricing service or regulatory agency and those prices represent actual and regularly occurring market transactions on an arm’s length basis.

Loans not acquired in a business combination or in an asset purchase are initially recognized at their transaction price representing the fair value, which is the cash amount advanced to the borrower. In addition, the net of direct and incremental transaction costs and fees are included in the initial carrying amount of loans. These loans are subsequently measured at amortized cost using the effective interest method less impairment.

Loans which have been acquired as either part of a business combination or as an asset purchase are initially recognized at fair value at the acquisition date. This includes loans for which an impairment loss had been established by the acquiree before their initial recognition by the Group. The fair value at the acquisition date incorporates expected cash flows which consider the credit quality of these loans including any incurred losses and becomes the new amortized cost base. Interest income is recognized using the effective interest method. Subsequent to the acquisition date the Group assesses whether there is objective evidence of impairment in line with the policies described in the section entitled “Impairment of Loans and Provision for Off-Balance Sheet Positions”. If the loans are determined to be impaired then a loan loss allowance is recognized with a corresponding charge to the provision for credit losses line in the Consolidated Statement of Income. Releases of such loan loss allowances established after their initial recognition are included in the provision for credit losses line. Subsequent improvements in the credit quality of such loans for which no loss allowance had been recorded are recognized immediately through an adjustment to the current carrying value and a corresponding gain is recognized in interest income.

Financial Assets Classified as Available for Sale

Financial assets that are not classified as at fair value through profit or loss or as loans are classified as AFS. A financial asset classified as AFS is initially recognized at its fair value plus transaction costs that are directly attributable to the acquisition of the financial asset. The amortization of premiums and accretion of discount are recorded in net interest income. Financial assets classified as AFS are carried at fair value with the changes in fair value reported in other comprehensive income, unless the asset is subject to a fair value hedge, in which case changes in fair value resulting from the risk being hedged are recorded in other income. For monetary financial assets classified as AFS (debt instruments), changes in carrying amounts relating to changes in foreign exchange rate are recognized in the Consolidated Statement of Income and other changes in carrying amount are recognized in other comprehensive income as indicated above. For financial assets classified as AFS that are nonmonetary items (equity instruments), the gain or loss that is recognized in other comprehensive income includes any related foreign exchange component.

In the case of equity investments classified as AFS, objective evidence includes a significant or prolonged decline in the fair value of the investment below cost. In the case of debt securities classified as AFS, impairment is assessed based on the same criteria as for loans.

If there is evidence of impairment, any amounts previously recognized in other comprehensive income are recognized in the consolidated statement of income for the period, reported in net gains (losses) on financial assets available for sale. This impairment loss for the period is determined as the difference between the acquisition cost (net of any principal repayments and amortization) and current fair value of the asset less any impairment loss on that investment previously recognized in the Consolidated Statement of Income.

When an AFS debt security is impaired, any subsequent decreases in fair value are recognized in the Consolidated Statement of Income as it is considered further impairment. Any subsequent increases are also recognized in the Consolidated Statement of Income until the asset is no longer considered impaired. When the fair value of the AFS debt security recovers to at least amortized cost it is no longer considered impaired and subsequent changes in fair value are reported in other comprehensive income.

Reversals of impairment losses on equity investments classified as AFS are not reversed through the Consolidated Statement of Income; increases in their fair value after impairment are recognized in other comprehensive income.

Realized gains and losses are reported in net gains (losses) on financial assets available for sale. Generally, the weighted-average cost method is used to determine the cost of financial assets. Unrealized gains and losses recorded in other comprehensive income are transferred to the Consolidated Statement of Income on disposal of an available for sale asset and reported in net gains (losses) on financial assets available for sale.

Critical Accounting Estimates – Because the assessment of objective evidence of impairment require significant management judgement and the estimate of impairment could change from period to period based upon future events that may or may not occur, the Group considers the impairment of Financial Assets classified as Available for Sale to be a critical accounting estimate. For additional information see Note 7 “Net Gains (Losses) on Financial Assets Available for Sale”.

Financial Liabilities

Except for financial liabilities at fair value through profit or loss, financial liabilities are measured at amortized cost using the effective interest method.

Financial liabilities include long-term and short-term debt issued which are initially measured at fair value, which is the consideration received, net of transaction costs incurred. Repurchases of issued debt in the market are treated as extinguishments and any related gain or loss is recorded in the Consolidated Statement of Income. A subsequent sale of own bonds in the market is treated as a reissuance of debt.

Reclassification of Financial Assets

The Group may reclassify certain financial assets out of the financial assets at fair value through profit or loss classification (trading assets) and the AFS classification into the loans classification. For assets to be reclassified there must be a clear change in management intent with respect to the assets since initial recognition and the financial asset must meet the definition of a loan at the reclassification date. Additionally, there must be an intent and ability to hold the asset for the foreseeable future at the reclassification date.

Financial assets are reclassified at their fair value at the reclassification date. Any gain or loss already recognized in the Consolidated Statement of Income is not reversed. The fair value of the instrument at reclassification date becomes the new amortized cost of the instrument. The expected cash flows on the financial instruments are estimated at the reclassification date and these estimates are used to calculate a new effective interest rate for the instruments. If there is a subsequent increase in expected future cash flows on reclassified assets as a result of increased recoverability, the effect of that increase is recognized as an adjustment to the effective interest rate from the date of the change in estimate rather than as an adjustment to the carrying amount of the asset at the date of the change in estimate. If there is a subsequent decrease in expected future cash flows the asset would be assessed for impairment as discussed in the section entitled “Impairment of Loans and Provision for Off-Balance Sheet Positions”. Any change in the timing of the cash flows of reclassified assets which are not deemed impaired are recorded as an adjustment to the carrying amount of the asset.

For instruments reclassified from AFS to loans, any unrealized gain or loss recognized in other comprehensive income is subsequently amortized into interest income using the effective interest rate of the instrument. If the instrument is subsequently impaired, any unrealized loss which is held in accumulated other comprehensive income for that instrument at that date is immediately recognized in the Consolidated Statement of Income as a loan loss provision.

To the extent that assets categorized as loans are repaid, restructured or eventually sold and the amount received is less than the carrying value at that time, then a loss would be recognized in the Consolidated Statement of income as a component of the provision for credit losses, if the loan is impaired, or otherwise in other Income, if the loan is not impaired.

Offsetting of Financial Instruments

Financial assets and liabilities are offset, with the net amount presented in the Consolidated Balance Sheet, only if the Group holds a currently enforceable legal right to set off the recognized amounts and there is an intention to settle on a net basis or to realize an asset and settle the liability simultaneously. The legal right to set off the recognized amounts must be enforceable in both the normal course of business, in the event of default, insolvency or bankruptcy of both the Group and its counterparty. In all other situations they are presented gross. When financial assets and financial liabilities are offset in the Consolidated Balance Sheet, the associated income and expense items will also be offset in the Consolidated Statement of Income, unless specifically prohibited by an applicable accounting standard.

The majority of the offsetting applied by the Group relates to derivatives and repurchase and reverse repurchase agreements. A significant portion of offsetting is applied to interest rate derivatives and related cash margin balances, which are cleared through central clearing parties such as the London Clearing House. The Group also offsets repurchase and reverse repurchase agreements for which the Group has the right to set off and has the intent to settle on a net basis or to realize an asset and settle a liability simultaneously. For further information please refer to Note 18 “Offsetting Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities”.

Determination of Fair Value

Fair value is defined as the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an arm’s length transaction between market participants at the measurement date. The fair value of instruments that are quoted in active markets is determined using the quoted prices where they represent those at which regularly and recently occurring transactions take place. The Group measures certain portfolios of financial assets and financial liabilities on the basis of their net risk exposures when the following criteria are met:

  • The group of financial assets and liabilities is managed on the basis of its net exposure to a particular market risk (or risks) or to the credit risk of a particular counterparty, in accordance with a documented risk management strategy,
  • the fair values are provided to key management personnel, and
  • the financial assets and liabilities are measured at fair value through profit or loss.

This portfolio valuation approach is consistent with how the Group manages its net exposures to market and counterparty credit risks.

Critical Accounting Estimates – The Group uses valuation techniques to establish the fair value of instruments where prices quoted in active markets are not available. Therefore, where possible, parameter inputs to the valuation techniques are based on observable data derived from prices of relevant instruments traded in an active market. These valuation techniques involve some level of management estimation and judgment, the degree of which will depend on the price transparency for the instrument or market and the instrument’s complexity.

In reaching estimates of fair value management judgment needs to be exercised. The areas requiring significant management judgment are identified, documented and reported to senior management as part of the valuation control process and the standard monthly reporting cycle. The specialist model validation and valuation control groups focus attention on the areas of subjectivity and judgment.

The level of management judgment required in establishing fair value of financial instruments for which there is a quoted price in an active market is usually minimal. Similarly there is little subjectivity or judgment required for instruments valued using valuation models which are standard across the industry and where all parameter inputs are quoted in active markets.

The level of subjectivity and degree of management judgment required is more significant for those instruments valued using specialized and sophisticated models and where some or all of the parameter inputs are less liquid or less observable. Management judgment is required in the selection and application of appropriate parameters, assumptions and modelling techniques. In particular, where data are obtained from infrequent market transactions then extrapolation and interpolation techniques must be applied. Where no market data are available for a particular instrument then pricing inputs are determined by assessing other relevant sources of information such as historical data, fundamental analysis of the economics of the transaction and proxy information from similar transactions, and making appropriate adjustment to reflect the actual instrument being valued and current market conditions. Where different valuation techniques indicate a range of possible fair values for an instrument then management has to decide what point within the range of estimates appropriately represents the fair value. Further, some valuation adjustments may require the exercise of management judgment to achieve fair value.

Under IFRS, the financial assets and liabilities carried at fair value are required to be disclosed according to the inputs to the valuation method that are used to determine their fair value. Specifically, segmentation is required between those valued using quoted market prices in an active market (level 1), valuation techniques based on observable parameters (level 2) and valuation techniques using significant unobservable parameters (level 3). Management judgment is required in determining the category to which certain instruments should be allocated. This specifically arises when the valuation is determined by a number of parameters, some of which are observable and others are not. Further, the classification of an instrument can change over time to reflect changes in market liquidity and therefore price transparency.

The Group provides a sensitivity analysis of the impact upon the level 3 financial instruments of using a reasonably possible alternative for the unobservable parameter. The determination of reasonably possible alternatives requires significant management judgment.

For financial instruments measured at amortized cost (which includes loans, deposits and short and long term debt issued) the Group discloses the fair value. Generally there is limited or no trading activity in these instruments and therefore the fair value determination requires significant management judgment.

For further discussion of the valuation methods and controls and quantitative disclosures with respect to the determination of fair value, please refer to Note 14 “Financial Instruments carried at Fair Value” and Note 15 “Fair Value of Financial Instruments not carried at Fair Value”.

Recognition of Trade Date Profit

If there are significant unobservable inputs used in the valuation technique, the financial instrument is recognized at the transaction price and any profit implied from the valuation technique at trade date is deferred.

Using systematic methods, the deferred amount is recognized over the period between trade date and the date when the market is expected to become observable, or over the life of the trade (whichever is shorter). Such methodology is used because it reflects the changing economic and risk profile of the instrument as the market develops or as the instrument itself progresses to maturity. Any remaining trade date deferred profit is recognized in the Consolidated Statement of Income when the transaction becomes observable or the Group enters into off-setting transactions that substantially eliminate the instrument’s risk. In the rare circumstances that a trade date loss arises, it would be recognized at inception of the transaction to the extent that it is probable that a loss has been incurred and a reliable estimate of the loss amount can be made.

Critical Accounting Estimates – Management judgment is required in determining whether there exist significant unobservable inputs in the valuation technique. Once deferred, the decision to subsequently recognise the trade date profit requires a careful assessment of the then current facts and circumstances supporting observability of parameters and/or risk mitigation.