Supervisory practice

Like all financial institutions, Pfandbrief banks are subject to the European Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM). The various banking supervisory authorities give effect to regulatory requirements in European and national provisions and carry out the Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process (SREP).

In legal terms, banking supervision is based on European and national provisions and is exercised by various supervisory authorities on the European and national level. Significant institutions are supervised directly by the ECB. Less significant institutions are supervised by national authorities, although the ECB exercises indirect supervision by setting standards for uniform supervisory practice. In Germany, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), together with the Deutsche Bundesbank, handles the direct supervision of less significant institutions.

Legal bases of banking supervision

The legal bases of supervision are essentially set down in European legislation:

  • the CRR (Capital Requirements Regulation)
  • the SSM (Single Supervisory Mechanism) and
  • national transposition of the European CRD (Capital Requirements Directive) in the German Banking Act (Kreditwesengesetz, KWG) and in associated regulations

Also, for Pfandbrief banks, the German Pfandbrief Act (Pfandbriefgesetz, PfandBG) is of importance.

Specification of the regulatory requirements

Banking supervisory authorities issue bulletins giving more detail on regulatory requirements. On the European level, the European Banking Authority (EBA) sets guidelines. The EBA guidelines are to be applied by the competent authorities (for German institutions, the ECB or BaFin) on a “comply or explain” basis.

As part of its “Single Rulebook Q&A” process, the EBA also specifies the interpretation of the CRD IV and the CRR, although this is not directly binding on institutions. Finally, BaFin decides whether it adopts an EBA Q&A into its administrative practice.

The ECB also develops supervisory methods and standards, inter alia, in the form of manuals, guides, and regulations, that are effective for the entire Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM).

Finally, BaFin and the Deutsche Bundesbank also publish interpretive decisions, guidance notices, circulars, and administrative acts, which are primarily relevant for institutions supervised directly by them. These include, for instance, the guidance on the supervisory assessment of bank-internal capital adequacy concepts. BaFin also specifies the ratios for the countercyclical capital buffer attributable to German exposures, as well as the capital buffers for systemic risks and for global or other systemically important institutions.

Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process (SREP)

The SREP is used to verify and assess both an institution’s risk situation and risk controls and the associated adequacy of its internally determined capital and liquidity (ICAAP and ILAAP). These are based on the EBA’s SREP guidelines. On-site audits, stress tests, and supervisory benchmarking of internal models constitute the main supervisory activities, the results of which are included in the SREP. Based on EBA guidelines, the SREP follows what is known as the “Pillar 1 plus” approach, in which the minimum requirements of Pillar 1 (pursuant to the CRD/CRR) are augmented by institution-specific supervisory requirements covering risks not taken into account in Pillar 1.


Current developments

The EBA is developing guidelines, and draft technical regulatory standards, governing the use of internal models for determining capital requirements for credit and market risk. The aim is to reduce undue variability in the model’s results. Similarly, the EBA is revising, among other things, the SREP guidelines and the guidelines on the interest-rate risk in the non-trading book.

One key supervisory priority of the ECB the multi-year targeted review of internal models (TRIM), which is intended to evaluate the adequacy and suitability of the internal models and in this way to strengthen their credibility. In another multi-year project, the ECB plans to issue comprehensive guidelines on ICAAP and ILAAP in order to address the need for improvement identified by the ECB in some areas.

The topics revised recently by BaFin in the Minimum Requirements for Risk Management (Mindestanforderungen an das Risikomanagement, MaRisk) mainly concern the following aspects:

  • Collateral valuation and monitoring, as well as market fluctuation concept
  • Outsourcing
  • Data management and reporting
  • Risk culture