Risk Management Structure / Framework in Banks

A major issue in establishing an appropriate risk management organization structure is choosing between a centralized and decentralized structure. The global trend is towards centralizing risk management with integrated treasury management function to benefit from information on aggregate exposure, natural netting of exposures, economies of scale and easier reporting to top management.

The primary responsibility of understanding the risks run by the bank and ensuring that the risks are appropriately managed should clearly be vested with the Board of Directors. The Board should set risk limits by assessing the bank’s risk and risk-bearing capacity.

At organizational level, overall risk management should be assigned to an independent Risk Management Committee or Executive Committee of the top Executives that reports directly to the Board of Directors. The purpose of this top level committee is to empower one group with full responsibility of evaluating overall risks faced by the bank and determining the level of risks which will be in the best interest of the bank.

The function of Risk Management Committee should essentially be to identify, monitor and measure the risk profile of the bank. The Committee should also develop policies and procedures, verify the models that are used for pricing complex products, review the risk models a development takes place in the markets and also identify new risks.

Internationally, the trend is towards assigning risk limits in terms of portfolio standards or Credit at Risk (credit risk) and Earnings at Risk and Value at Risk (market risk).

A prerequisite for establishment of an effective risk management system is the existence of a robust Management Information System (MIS), consistent in quality. The existing MIS, however, requires substantial up gradation and strengthening of the data collection machinery to ensure the integrity and reliability of data.

The risk management is a complex function and it requires specialized skills and expertise. Banks have been moving towards the use of sophisticated models for measuring and managing risks. Large banks and those operating in international markets should develop internal risk management models to be able to compete effectively with their competitors.

As the domestic market integrates with the international markets, the banks should have necessary expertise and skill in managing various types of risks in a scientific manner. At a more sophisticated level, the core staff at Head Offices should be trained in risk modeling and analytical tools. It should, therefore, be the endeavor of all banks to upgrade the skills of staffs.

Given the diversity of balance sheet profile, it is difficult to adopt a uniform framework for management of risks in India. The design of risk management functions should be bank specific, dictated by the size, complexity of functions, the level of technical expertise and the quality of MIS. The proposed guidelines only provide broad parameters and each bank may evolve their own systems compatible to their risk management architecture and expertise.

Internationally, a committee approach to risk management is being adopted. While the Asset-Liability Management Committee (ALCO) deals with different types of market risk, the Credit Policy Committee (CPC) oversees the credit/counterparty risk and country risk.

Banks could also set up a single Committee for integrated management of credit and market risks. Generally, the policies and procedures for market risk are articulated in the ALM policies and credit risk is addressed in Loan Policies and procedures.

Currently, while market variables are held constant for qualifying credit risk, credit variables are held constant in estimating market risk. The economic crises in some of the countries have revealed a strong correlation between unhedged market risk and credit. Forex exposures, assumed by corporate whi have no natural hedges, will increase the credit risk which banks run vis-à-vis their counterparties. The volatility in the prices of collateral also significantly affects the quality of the loan book. Thus, there is a need for integration of the activities of both the ALCO and the CPC and consultation process be established to evaluate the impact of market and credit risks on the financial strength of banks. Banks may also consider integrating market risk elements into their credit risk assessment process.

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