Risk Management

Regulators Reject ‘Living Will’ Plans of Three Banks

BNP Paribas, HSBC, and Royal Bank of Scotland are told to resubmit their plans by the end of the year.
Matthew HellerMarch 24, 2015
Regulators Reject ‘Living Will’ Plans of Three Banks

U.S. bank regulators have found the “living will” resolution plans of three foreign banking organizations to be “not credible,” asking them to make improvements by the end of the year.

France’s BNP Paribas and U.K.-based HSBC Holdings and the Royal Bank of Scotland submitted the plans to comply with the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs) to establish living wills. A living will is designed to describe a bank’s strategy for rapid and orderly resolution under the U.S. bankruptcy code in the event of material financial distress or bank failure.

But the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on Monday sent the three banks back to the drawing board, saying their plans would not “facilitate an orderly resolution” and would need to be revised.

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The shortcomings of the plans varied between the firms, the agencies said in a news release, but they all included “unrealistic or inadequately supported assumptions about the likely behavior of customers, counterparties, investors, central clearing facilities, and regulators” and “inadequate analysis regarding interconnections within the firms.”

SIFIs have been working on living wills since 2011 but, as American Banker reports, regulators only began giving public feedback on the plans in August, when they rejected 11 resolution plans from the most complex banks.

Among the biggest firms, Wells Fargo was the only one that persuaded regulators it could go through bankruptcy without serious damage to the financial system

BNP Paribas, HSBC, and the Royal Bank of Scotland have until Dec. 31 to resubmit their plans. Under Dodd-Frank, banks that fail to submit a credible plan will be subject to severe supervisory oversight by the Fed.

Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of policy analysis firm Federal Financial Analytics, told The Wall Street Journal that the foreign banks will need to “look very hard at their U.S. operations to identify what the problems … are and whether they can be resolved to U.S. satisfaction without damage to the franchise.”

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