The regulatory landscape for the securities lending and repo markets looks set to undergo limited meaningful adjustment in the immediate future, despite the ongoing deregulatory rhetoric espoused by the Trump administration.
That was one of the key observations made at BNY Mellon Markets’ Securities Finance Regulatory Update webinar, held in New York on October 24, which sought to examine the rulemaking outlook in the US and beyond for the year ahead.
The discussion was dominated by the regulatory agenda of the Trump White House and how the administration’s appointees to lead the various US banking supervisory agencies could influence the slate of post-crisis reforms still being implemented in the US.
For example, veteran securities lawyer Randall Quarles was confirmed to the powerful role of Federal Reserve Vice-Chairman for Supervision by the Senate on October 13. Quarles is widely expected to oversee the implementation of several of the Treasury’s recent recommendations including changes to the CCAR stress testing program and the procedures for resolving systemically important banks.
In the securities financing marketplace in particular, large-scale regulatory upheaval appears a remote possibility. There are, however, two specific regulations that are expected to be tweaked in the months and years ahead that have the potential to help maintain a liquid and vibrant securities lending market.
Designed as a backup capital measure to ensure banks do not take on undue risk that is not captured by the risk-based capital rules, the SLR has been contentious in the US since its initial proposal.
This is due in large part to the decision of US prudential regulators to set the SLR at 5% of Tier 1 capital (6% in the case of insured depository institutions) while the Basel Committee recommended that the leverage ratio should be enacted at just a 3% level.
US banks have long protested that this puts them at a competitive disadvantage against overseas rivals that are only obliged to hold half as much capital against the same risk positions. The financial services industry has urged banking supervisors to revisit the issue and provide exemptions for certain low-risk activities – from holding Treasuries on the balance sheet to placing cash on deposit at central banks - that are currently included as assets in the denominator of the ratio.
“We expect that the Fed will undertake a review – we know that they’re already working on sort of a fundamental review of the supplementary leverage ratio,” explained Eli Peterson, Managing Director with BNY Mellon’s Office of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs.
“We know that [the Fed is] already working on sort of a fundamental review of the supplementary leverage ratio”Eli Peterson, BNY Mellon Office of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs
“The US banking industry has spent a lot of time with the banking agencies trying to explain the unintended consequences of doubling the SLR just in the US and the perverse effects of doing that. We really do believe that the Fed, in conjunction with the other banking agencies, is likely to propose some changes to the SLR over the next few quarters. The most likely scenario is probably that the ratio is tiered and not that they changed the composition of the denominator,” Peterson added.
One regulation that is yet to be finalized in the US, but of particular concern to the securities financing sector, are the SCCL rules proposed by the Federal Reserve. Under the proposal, limits would be placed on the credit exposure one bank could have to another.
In the case of an institution designated as a Globally Systemically Important Bank (G-SIB) by US regulators, such a firm would be prohibited from having a direct counterparty exposure to another G-SIB in excess of 15% of that entity’s Tier 1 capital.
As proposed, the rule has the potential to have an outsize impact on securities lending volumes between G-SIBs because the methodology used to calculate securities finance exposures significantly overstates the actual risk in those transactions.
“You have to add up all your credit exposures across the entire institution when calculating the limit. It is not just the securities finance exposures. Because many of the institutions that you lend securities to through BNY Mellon are also G-SIBs, that 15% limit comes into play as a result of the SCCL,” explained Michael McAuley, Global Head of Product and Strategy for BNY Mellon’s Securities Finance business.
Relief for the securities lending sector could emerge from the Basel Committee, which has proposed an alternative methodology for calculating securities finance exposures. That methodology is currently included in a set of reforms referred to as Basel IV.
This new calculation method - which is currently sitting with the Basel Committee and could be adopted as a standard that national regulators would have to transpose in their own jurisdictions - would be utilized for both risk-based capital rules as well as the SCCL.
“Without the revised calculation methodology, [SCCL] could have a significant impact on agent lenders’ ability to provide indemnification. So we’re hoping that when the large exposure limitations are finalized, they include the revised calculation that is really closer to reflecting the true risk in securities lending transactions, and will provide the agent lender with enough capacity to be able to continue to provide clients with borrower default indemnification,” concluded McAuley.
Download a summary of major Regulatory Initiatives Impacting Agency Securities Lending (PDF - 1 MB) to access the presentation deck that accompanied the webinar, which contains detailed information on the impact these regulatory initiatives may have on borrowers, agent lenders and securities lending clients.
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