BoE calls for adoption of global bank capital rules

The Bank of England has urged that the UK’s largest lenders faithfully apply the most recent global bank capital regulations, disappointing banks who were hoping for a softer approach as proposed by the EU and dash expectations of a post-Brexit free-for-all. In order to prepare for such disasters in the future, the Basel regulations were agreed upon during the global financial crisis. The BoE released its intentions to implement the final package on Wednesday. The most recent amendment limits the use of modelling and other methods that can flatter capital estimates or lower capital demands in an effort to increase consistency among banks’ capital levels.

The BoE stated that it would follow nearly all of the rules that had been universally agreed upon, albeit it would, like the EU, put off implementation until 2025 by two years. Banks had hoped that the UK would follow the example set by the EU by relaxing regulations in sectors including trade financing, mortgage lending, and lending to a few small businesses. Sam Woods, the head of the BoE’s regulatory division, countered that by fostering confidence in the UK market, following international norms will support “the competitiveness of the UK as a financial centre” rather than weakening them.

He said that the Basel pact had undergone minimal changes in the UK’s proposals. Among them was adjusting the criteria so that capital costs on loans to strong companies would be cheaper than those to companies rated below investment grade. Additionally, the Prudential Regulation Authority suggested modifying the way banks’ derivative exposures are handled. The top banking regulators in Europe last month issued a warning that the EU’s plans, which are currently being hammered out by the European parliament, council, and commission, diverge so significantly from the Basel regulations.

The PRA seems to have maintained its position, according to analysts at Numis, despite considerable changes made by the European Commission. The EU has considerably departed from a standard that establishes a mortgage’s capital based on its loan to value at origination, according to a bank lobbyist located in the UK, who claimed that the PRA’s suggestions appeared more punitive in mortgages.

Lobbyists asserted that because the UK adopts a more cautious approach to trade finance, the UK’s changes on lending to corporations without credit ratings are less broad than those recommended in Europe. Even yet, there were some encouraging developments, such as the UK’s decision to bluntly cap the influence of internal models at the company level rather than applying them to various banking divisions, which would have been more onerous. The EU’s majority of reforms primarily apply to larger, more complicated banks, but the UK gave minimal changes to all institutions covered by the new Basel package.

The PRA was well-known for being unwilling to stray too far from international norms because it thought that doing so may harm the reputation of UK regulators and the UK industry abroad. The current state of the economy would have discouraged UK authorities from taking any actions that would have resulted in “wholesale reductions” in the amount of capital UK banks must retain in the future, according to Jared Chebib, banking partner at EY. The PRA stated that, in contrast to earlier Basel packages, it did not anticipate that the most recent proposals would substantially increase total capital requirements on average across UK enterprises.

Customers typically pay higher interest rates as a result of higher capital requirements. For a transitional phase, smaller banks with assets of under £20 billion and a predominately UK focus may continue to operate under the current global capital framework while regulators create the new “strong and simpler” model. Up until March 2023, the PRA is conducting a consultation on the package.

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