Article | July 01, 2022

Savings modelling series: The impact of savings rate floors on balance sheet management

Client rate model
Low interest rates

Low interest rates, decreasing margins and regulatory pressure: banks are faced with a variety of challenges regarding non-maturing deposits. Accurate and robust models for non-maturing deposits are more important than ever. These complex models depend largely on a number of modelling choices. In the savings modelling series, Zanders lays out the main modelling choices, based on our experience at a variety of Tier 1, 2 and 3 banks.

The low or even negative market rates in many Western European countries significantly affect banks’ pricing and funding strategy. Many banks hesitate to offer negative rates on non-maturing deposits (NMD) to retail customers. In some markets, like in Belgium, regulatory restrictions impose a lower limit on the savings rate that a bank can offer. The adverse impact of these developments is that current funding margins for many banks are under pressure.

The flooring effect on variable rate deposits is a hot topic for banks’ Risk Management functions due to its impact on the pricing dynamics and customer behaviour. Although it is possible that banks offer negative deposit rates when interest rates continue to decrease (“soft flooring”), banks depend on the pricing strategy of competing banks. Next to that, offering negative rates can cause serious reputational damage, leading to deposit volume outflows. The next paragraphs outline the key focus regarding risk reporting, economic hedges, and risk models for Risk and ALM managers.

Breaching the Supervisory Outlier Test

Banks are likely to hit the Supervisory Outlier Test (SOT) because of the asymmetric sensitivity of the economic value to interest rate shocks. Banks must inform their supervisor when the Economic Value of Equity change resulting from specific interest rate scenarios exceeds certain thresholds. Asymmetric pricing effects on NMD can have substantial impact on economic value and earnings. This is because when NMD rates are close to the floor, the interest rate sensitivity decreases. This effectively makes NMD similar to fixed-rate instruments like bonds.

"Banks are likely to hit the Supervisory Outlier Test (SOT) because of the asymmetric sensitivity of the economic value to interest rate shocks."

Risk Management functions need to adjust the Economic hedge to mitigate the interest rate typical gap between assets and liabilities. While NMD are traditionally variable-rate products, these behave more like interest rate insensitive instruments in a low interest environment. Risk managers need to reflect this impact in the economic hedge. It is important to realize that it is difficult to capture the non-linearity of NMD, resulting from the floor, with linear financial instruments such as interest rate swaps. Although some banks are adjusting the hedge on a best-estimate (duration or DV01) basis, the asymmetric pricing effects will largely be left unhedged. Banks can choose to accept and monitor this risk, or capitalize for it.

Risk models need to be adjusted to reflect flooring effects on NMD. For most Western European markets, historical data is dominated by higher interest rate levels and does not yield representative behavioural risk estimations.

Savings modelling series

This short article is part of the Savings Modelling Series, a series of articles covering five hot topics in NMD for banking risk management. The other articles in this series are: