// . //  Insights //  Banks Must Be Vigilant To Credit Risk And Rate Sensitivity


Potential deterioration of credit risk is a very important priority. Banks should continue to monitor and early detect potential difficulties in their counterparties, and help them manage those difficulties by restructuring their liabilities or working with them
José Manuel Campa, Chairperson, European Banking Authority

Higher for longer monetary policy demands that banks be vigilant to credit risk and that EU policymakers finish the bloc’s banking union.

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I believe that the increase in interest rates and the prospect that they will remain at the current levels of higher for longer is really a significant change in paradigm for the financial sector and for the banks overall. I think that the last 18 months, the banks have weathered relatively well the situation, but of course a lot of the effects of these interest rates are still coming in the next months.

We see already that credit has been tightening, we see that credit quality may deteriorate. So I think it's important for the banks that they will remain very vigilant, that they continue to assess very carefully their overall portfolio, how it performs on the interest rates, particularly those parts of the portfolio that are more linked to credit risk and interest-rate sensitive, and to those counterparties that are highly leveraged, because those are the ones that may have difficulties for making payments. So I think remaining vigilant is the right approach.

In terms of the priorities for the banks, I think in the macroeconomic environment we operate, potential deterioration of credit risk is a very, very big important priority. And I think they should continue to monitor and early detect potential difficulties in their counterparties and help them manage those difficulties by restructuring their liabilities or working with them, trying to find proper ways for those counterparties - be it corporates or households - to manage the higher interest rates environment and the higher debt burden that that interest rates brings. That's one clear priority.

Then as we go forward and we think more structurally, I think the challenges of both technology and sustainability are very big challenges, not just for the banking sector, for society overall, but of course for banks, and that's one area which they need to focus.

If I were to do two things as soon as possible that I think are very urgent, I'll focus only in the European context. The first one is we have an ongoing reform of what we call the crisis management deposit insurance framework in the European Union, this is with the co-legislators. I would really encourage them to finish that ASAP. And the second one, which if it could be done today, it would be even better because it should have been done already months and years ago, is to finish the banking union. You know, we all talk about having three pillars in the banking union in Europe. One is supervision, that's been implemented, the other one is crisis management resolutions along the way, and that was one of my first tasks to finish. And the third one is, of course, deposit insurance. So we should make progress in making sure that we have that common deposit insurance within the banking union of the European Union, ASAP.

I think we need to make sure first that the banks are well managed, solvent and capable to provide lending to the economy. And I think those are very, very important aspects, so we need to enhance the governance of the banks, which they have done. We need to do the risk assessment, we did the EBA stress test earlier this year of the banking sector so that sounds good and robust. And our conclusion there was that the banks are able to support lending to the economy. So that's really a good outcome, we should continue along those lines. Then the second aspect is to prepare the banks for the challenges ahead - as I mentioned before, sustainability and technology are clear areas for work.