Response to consultation Paper on draft Guidelines on loan origination and monitoring.

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5. What are the respondents’ views on the requirements for governance for credit granting and monitoring (Section 4)?

There are requirements regarding governance in already existing legal acts, such as GL 11, some of which are duplicated in the proposed guidelines. We suggest that aspects which are already regulated in other legal acts are not repeated or supplemented in these guidelines, but that reference instead is made to the existing relevant legal provisions.

We see an obvious risk that the requirements on credit decision making may limit proven and well-functioning lending activity and well-reasoned decision-making structures. Defining the organizational control and monitoring structures, policies and procedures on conflicts of interest based on the detailed requirements that appear to be set in the guidelines seems extremely challenging and do not give enough room for bank individual processes and structures that is already proven prudent.

In more detail:
• limitations in credit decision making in terms of time and number should be removed. The number of delegated credit decision is not correlated to an increase in terms of risks undertaken by the bank (e.g. para 59 limitations on the number of delegated approvals)
• Paragraph 63, allowing individual approval authorities only for small and non-complex transactions could significantly increase the complexity of the lending process. This could decrease the level of efficiency of banks. We propose to eliminate point a) para 63 for all the banks that can ensure a credit process that includes an independent opinion released by the risk management function (that ensures the independency of the overall judgment, limiting the discretion of the delegated role).

6. What are the respondent’s views on how the guidelines capture the role of the risk management function in credit granting process?

The requirement set out in the Guidelines for the Credit risk management and internal controls framework paragraph 76 to provide an “independent risk opinion to the credit decision takers” (par 76c) and an “independent/second opinion to the creditworthiness assessment” (par. 76g) seem to require an ex-ante supervision of the risk management function within the credit process. This approach, implying an active and operational role performed by the risk control function during the lending phase (which in our view seems to some extent contradictive in relation to the provisions in GL 11), might be hardly applicable as:
• the prior involvement of the risk control function appears not fully coherent with the separation of responsibilities between the ex-ante first line of defence (lending functions) vs the ex-post second line of controls (risk management) and, ultimately, with the regulatory principle of segregation of duty;
• the need to have second opinion to the creditworthiness assessment might trigger process inefficiencies related to the duplication of activities and skills in charge of different functions, entailing inter alia also additional staff costs.
• It seems to restrict the possibilities of using different operational models or different governance structures and by that hampers the bank’s possibility to adapt its credit risk management process to the chosen governance structure.

Therefore, risk management should not be interpreted as a function to be uniquely performed by a specific risk office or the risk control function and “independence” as a notion should not be tied to the second line of defence. The banks should be free to apply any governance model as long they take care of the principles of independence, segregation of duties, duality and avoidance of conflict of interest. The same reasoning is also relevant for the sections 4.4 and 4.4.1 in the proposed guidelines. It is our view that these comprehensive principles and room for manoeuvre for the banks ought to be reflected and more explicitly presented in the content of the guidelines.

7. What are the respondents’ views on the requirements for collection of information and documentation for the purposes of creditworthiness assessment (Section 5.1)?

We suggest that this section of the guidelines is revised in order to better respect the principle of proportionality, as expressed in the scope of application section. It should be clarified that the list in Annex 2 is only examples of information that could be collected and verified, only if they are relevant for the type of client and product, according to the proportionality principle. The expression “at least” does not seem accurate as it implies that this information always has to be collected, which would not allow for the application of the proportionality principle.

For example, there are situations, e.g. for short term credits used to buy standard consumer goods (see the ruling by the Swedish Administrative Supreme Court ref. 5868-16), where it would be appropriate to base a credit worthiness assessment on information from a standard scoring model, in which case there is a limited need to collect further information about the client.

As another example, asking for the mandatory availability of business plans and projections from all clients is in clear contrast with the proportionality principle and the evidence that smaller (and therefore internally not structured) counterparties do not usually have managerial ability to develop such detailed documents. In such cases banks’ assessment should be allowed to rely on most recent historical performances and sufficient key budgeted figures (where available) with the aim to understand their future sustainability. Involvement of internal specialist functions for all transactions is in fact not sustainable.

The Associations would like to emphasize that any requirements regarding collection of information and questions to be posed to the customer regarding creditworthiness assessment of consumers need to be adapted to the digital world. It is for example in our view not always the best approach to ask the customer about an extensive amount of information, when it could be sufficient, given the circumstances in the specific situation, to use standardised estimations of costs for inter alia living expenses or when relevant or even more reliable information is publicly available, e.g. via reports and/or could be retrieved from independent credit reference agencies.

The supervisor’s expectations regarding the sensitivity analysis in paragraphs 101 (and 114 and 121) should be clarified. The requirements must be properly delimited by the proportionality principle, as for limited proposals and retail SME customers the requirements are not proportionate to the risk.

The Associations propose that the wording in paragraph 93 is amended as follows, in order to take account of the proportionality principle: [Please see the proposed revised wording in the uploaded file.]

8. What are the respondents’ views on the requirements for assessment of borrower’s creditworthiness (Section 5.2)?

We suggest that this section of the guidelines is revised in order to better respect the principle of proportionality, as expressed in the scope of application section. It should be clarified that differences in the process for assessment of the borrower’s creditworthiness could exist depending on e.g. whether the client is a consumer or a corporate, an SME or a listed company.

We do not agree with the statement on page 11 that the consumer protection aspects set out in the guidelines when dealing with the creditworthiness assessment of consumers should not be subject to the application of the principle of proportionality and that the same consumer protection framework should be applied regardless of the size and complexity of the institutions or of the loan. The principle of proportionality is relevant when applying the consumer protection requirements and it would lead to negative effects for the consumer if the same level of protection would always be required. By way of example, the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court has in a ruling (ref. 5868-16) confirmed that creditors assessment of what information is relevant for the assessment of creditworthiness can vary depending on the size of the credit and other circumstances surrounding credit agreement. In the ruling, reference is made to the CJEU ruling CA Consumer Finance SA, C-449/13 (EU:C:2014:2464, p. 36-37). In the situation assessed by the Supreme Administrative Court, the credit agreement was for a limited amount, used to buy standard consumer goods and a credit assessment mainly based on a scoring model was considered to be sufficient.

The Associations acknowledge the importance of protecting the consumers’ and other clients’ interests but would like to highlight the need to consider whether the type and extent of information to be gathered for the purpose of a credit assessment is proportionate, in relation to the purpose of assuring that the loan is suitable for the client. Some of the provisions in this section seem disproportionate in this aspect. In general, we consider credit granting criteria set out in Annex 1 too detailed and it should be clarified that the criteria listed in the annex is only examples of criteria that could be relevant, depending on the type of client and credit product.

Furthermore, some of the requirements, e.g. in paragraphs 112 b) and c) and 166, are excessively burdensome and impossible or difficult to fulfil. As a matter of fact, lenders have no data and cannot be responsible for assessing the quality of architects, engineers who take part in the property development. The certification of the costs associated with the development is not easy to obtain and it could be very expensive for the borrower. We propose to eliminate these requirements.

The requirements in paragraphs 144 to 146 must be properly delimited by the proportionality principle; otherwise each credit decision must be accompanied by very complex information, by multiple stress tests - idiosyncratic, general, combined.

9. What are the respondents’ views on the scope of the asset classes and products covered in loan origination procedures (Section 5)?

In general, we consider section 5 to be too prescriptive and detailed, not allowing for a relevant level of proportionality.

The chapters 4 to 8 in the proposed guidelines contain many detailed requirements, describing exactly how routines, processes and IT-systems should be set up. For institutions in the member states fulfilling the currently applicable requirements and regulations regarding loan origination and monitoring credit risk, but not having exactly the same routines and processes as those prescribed in the proposed guidelines chapters 4 to 8, and not using the same classification requirements as proposed, there will be large costs and significant work required to update processes and IT-systems to fulfill the proposed detailed requirements. The Associations acknowledges a need for sufficient tools for the competent authorities to prevent institutions originating new loans with too high credit risk and substandard credit assessment, but for institutions with existing highly functional credit risk management and proven low credit risk and high credit quality when originating new loans, the proposed guidelines would entail very high implementation costs, but are unlikely to result in improved credit quality.. The competent authority in each EU member state already has the mandate to monitor and follow up the process of loan origination and monitoring according to the purpose of the applicable legal provisions and take action when necessary. In our view, it is important to allow the competent authorities to adapt their supervision and communication according to geographical differences within the EU; overly prescriptive guidelines would in this aspect be a constraint in the authorities’ possibility to perform their supervision effectively.

10. What are the respondents’ views on the requirements for loan pricing (Section 6)?

In credit risk management pricing should never be a factor to justify credit risk. An assessed credit risk is based upon the borrower’s ability to fulfil the loan agreement over time, pricing should not be a factor when granting new loans. Therefore, the Associations question whether this section should be included in the guidelines and would like to suggest that the whole of section 6 regarding pricing is deleted.

11. What are the respondents’ views on the requirements for valuation of immovable and movable property collateral (Section 7)?

We suggest that this section of the guidelines is revised in order to better respect the principle of proportionality and existing well-functioning market practices. It is also important to ensure that this section of the guidelines is consistent with other union acts of law regarding valuation, e.g. the provisions in the Capital requirements Regulation (CRR) and the Mortgage Credit Directive, and do not impose stricter or different requirements.

The proposed definitions of Commercial Real Estate (CRE) and Residential Real Estate (RRE) are not in line with the definitions used in the CRR, which will lead to difficulties when applying the guidelines. We suggest that the same definitions as in the CRR are used and that dynamic references to those definitions in the regulation are used, in order to ensure consistency over time.

The proposed guidelines do not seem to allow for the use of advanced statistical models for valuation purposes at origination, even though these models produce reliable results. Disallowing its use would in our view not contribute to making banks’ standards more robust. Instead, it would result in additional costs, without direct benefits to the client and the bank. These extra costs would directly and/or indirectly be carried by the customer, decreasing the incentive to switch lender and therefore increase inertia in the loan market, which would be of further disadvantage for the customers. For asset classes where advanced statistical models have proven to be reliable, we advise EBA to allow a continuation of its use, i.e. we are in favor of Option 3c, as presented in the draft cost-benefit analysis/impact assessment. If the EBA does not consider this to be appropriate throughout the union, the use of advanced statistical models could be allowed on a member state level, at the discretion of the relevant national competent authority. Similar solutions, for when there are well-developed and long-established market practices on a member state level, are found for example in CRR articles 199(3), 199(4) and 199(6).

The proposed guidelines allow for the use of a statistical model for revaluation purposes given that the model fulfills a set of criteria (e.g. the model should account for individual characteristics of the property, it should be property-specific, valid and accurate) and given that CRR article 208(3) does not apply. There are however mechanical valuation methods, including mechanical valuation methods with some human interaction, that may not be considered to be statistical models from a strict mathematical perspective, but which fulfill the set of criteria in the proposed guideline and thus would perfectly serve as a revaluation method. The Associations believe that the idea behind the guidelines is to allow these mechanical methods for revaluation purposes. This should however be clarified. The Associations propose that the wordings “advanced statistical models” and “statistical models” in section 7 of the proposed guidelines are replaced with the phrasing used in CRR article 174; “advanced statistical models”, “other advanced mechanical methods” and “statistical models and other mechanical methods”, and thus aligned with the provisions in the CRR.

It is important that regulators move in a direction that supports smarter and more automated valuation methods (AVM) in situations where the real estate markets are well established, especially for residential real estate. The regulatory burden and costs would increase considerably if banks were required to employ certified valuers in a well-established residential real estate market, where this is in fact not needed. The use of eligible AVM methods (not indexation) and registered data is increasing, creating more reliable data. It is important that AVM methods are put on the same footing as manual valuations (RRE) and considered as independent. In some member states these methods are to be considered ever so reliable, as the data they stem from often is extensive and accurate. Since these methods are based on numbers alone rather than subjective opinions from a valuer, one could argue that they in some cases are more accurate than the latter. The data is supposed back-tested by the AVM vendors and/or the bank in the same operation.

The most important aspects of property valuation are to do the valuation independently and with a high knowledge of the local real estate market. It is also important that the valuer has a suitable education and skill to perform a reliable and prudent valuation. In our opinion, the EBA guidelines should state and support that long-term competence and experience within the institution in valuing properties is of value. We suggest that the institution’s personnel working with valuation should have appropriate training (which could be done internally within the institution). Internal valuers should be appointed officers with a long experience of the real estate market, and there could be a requirement for internal approval and supervision. An appointed bank officer, using professional valuation methods in line with good market practice, should be considered acceptable to perform valuation of RRE.

The Associations find the wording “… at the point of origination” in paragraph 191 unfortunate. A recent valuation made some time, e.g. six months, before the point of origination would be sufficient, provided that the institution makes sure the valuation is still reasonable and relevant or reviewed and supplemented. The Associations hence propose that paragraph 191 is amended as follows: [Please see the proposed revised wording in the uploaded file.]

In order to allow for the use of advanced statistical models on a member state level, when this is appropriate, the Associations propose that a new paragraph 194 a) with the following wording is added:

“Institutions may derogate from paragraph 194 and use advanced statistical models for valuation of immovable property being used as security for loans to consumers, for origination purposes, if

- the property is situated within the territory of a Member State, and
- the competent authority in that Member State has approved the use of such models.”

The Associations moreover propose that paragraph 199 is amended as follows: [Please see the proposed revised wording in the uploaded file.]

The requirements proposed in section 200 are too prescriptive and there is a risk that they would lead to a check list approach, instead of ensuring a prudent valuation and documentation process, thus defying the objective of the guidelines.

The requirements in paragraphs 207 to 213 would overhaul the current monitoring applied to collaterals subject to revaluation and the frequency of the update. Many banks have just modified their evaluation processes on the basis of the recent NPEs guidance. Any new changes would require high IT disburses and longer time for their implementation than what proposed in the guidelines. For example, performing full appraisals for revaluation purposes as set out in paragraph 213 instead of the current desktop ones, would significantly increase the appraisals’ annual cost, and delivery time could be delayed. Additionally, mainly in case of NPE, the debtor/asset owner wouldn’t permit an internal visit of the Real Estate asset. Also, the proposed parameters in paragraph 208 to be used to structure the frequencies of monitoring are not necessarily the best. Market volatility and risk of deterioration regarding industry, technical infrastructure and location as well as respective market price developments are deemed more suitable. The institutions do have enough experience and market knowledge to judge on the best parameter reflecting the risk structure of their portfolio. Hence, parameter for determining different monitoring frequencies should not be predetermined by the EBA.

It is not always appropriate or even possible to require rotation of valuers, as proposed in paragraph 214. There is already a requirement for appraiser rotation for non-performing loans via EBA NPL Guideline. The processes of banks have just been updated to accommodate for this new rule. The expansion to all exposures would cause yet more changes just as processes have been updated. The existing requirement for only NPLs is assessed as appropriate, while we propose to remove clause 214 which is an expansion of existing rules.

12. What are the respondents’ views on the proposed requirements on monitoring framework (Section 8)?

Overall, the ongoing monitoring proposed in the guidelines appears overly complex. This framework represents a burden that is not justified in relation to the average size of the banks' portfolio loans and does not allow for the institution to determine its credit risk appetite. The monitoring activity shouldn’t lead to undue additional reporting or disproportionate increase of the administrative obligations for banks.

The requirements regarding stress testing in the monitoring process should to be framed by the proportionality principle. Otherwise, using a transaction-by- transaction approach, there is the risk of burdensome procedures, information and reporting requirements.

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Name of organisation

The Swedish Bankers’ Association, the Swedish Savings Bank Association and the Association of Swedish Finance Houses