Crisis Drives Counterparty Risk Management Improvements

Results from the SCI/Fitch Solutions 2012 Global Credit and Counterparty Risk Survey show that the financial crisis has driven greater awareness across the derivatives industry of the importance of undertaking effective counterparty risk management, with respondents citing the incorporation of credit valuation adjustment (CVA) pricing, enhanced trading systems and proactive risk management as areas that have been strengthened.

“Eighty-one percent of respondents polled said that the importance of managing counterparty risk had increased over the last two years, with 44% voting for it as their institution’s top priority and a further 34% regarding it as very important,” said Thomas Aubrey, managing director, Fitch Solutions.

While the survey results showed that the sophistication of counterparty risk management practices still varies widely across firms, there was common recognition on the importance of CVA, particularly as a result of increased capital requirements under Basel III accounting regulations which have prompted many firms to prioritise their capital optimisation when hedging counterparty risk.

The challenge participants face in trying to bridge the ‘coverage gap’ when assessing counterparty risk for smaller, privately held non agency rated securities or counterparties which can be very illiquid, and where limited information is available, was also highlighted.

“Sixty-nine percent of respondents use CDS [credit default swap] spreads and indices, but just over 25% suggested that the currently available indices do not adequately capture the number of emerging market and private companies relevant for their hedging needs,” added Catherine Downhill, senior director, Fitch Solutions.

Consensus also appears to have been reached by survey respondents that market participants need to use a mix of credit risk indicators comprised of fundamental financial data, agency credit ratings, CDS and liquidity information.


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