Risk Management

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Banking entails exposure to a series of specific risks including credit, market and liquidity risks as well as operating, legal and reputation risks. The Group is equipped with a series of procedures and regulations the aim of which is to supervise and control risks in all fields of business. Clear and prudential limits have been defined for each individual type of risk the observance of which is constantly supervised by functions that are separate from the ones that generated them. These limits are updated regularly and adapted to the risk profile of the activities carried out. A controls certification and reporting system is also available to guarantee an adequate flow of information to all levels. The final purpose is that of maintaining intact the solidity and reputation of the Group even in the presence of particularly adverse conditions and events.


During the year, the Board of Directors, in its capacity as a governing body, regularly analyses the main risks linked to the Group’s operations. This analysis is largely based on the information generated by the risk management system that the Group has set up, and the reports issued by Internal Audit, Operations Management, Risk Control, and Compliance.
On the basis of its assessments, the Board of Directors determines the fundamental principles that regulate the Group risk policy and supervises their application.

 

Operations Management is responsible for implementing the directives issued by the Board of Directors. It is in charge of adequately organising the risk control system and equipping it with appropriate human and technical resources.
The Risk Control unit is endowed with the necessary independence and professionalism. Its operating responsibility is to identify and measure risks as well as to ensure that the Group’s policies are implemented and limits respected.
The Risk Control unit also draws up a quarterly report addressed to Operations Management and the Board of Directors.

 


Counterparty (credit) risks


Amounts due from customers
Risks are minimized by systematic demands on customers for collateral and margin coverage.
Credit activity is almost exclusively carried out by Banca del Sempione SA, which is equipped with a procedure ensuring a rigorous separation of functions between the front-office units, those that are responsible for extending the credit and those in charge of its supervision. Highly restrictive rules require that even from relatively modest amounts the extension is authorised by a credit committee, an in-house committee of the Board of Directors and, for higher amounts and credits to correlated parties, by the Board itself.
Any exceptions to the rules envisaged by the Group risk policy are monitored and submitted to the Board of Directors on a quarterly basis. Security-backed loans, accounting for the bulk of the portfolio consisting of accounts receivable from customers, are issued on the basis of collateral values conservatively calculated and daily monitored. The mortgage portfolio mainly refers to residences occupied by the owners themselves. The average mortgage amount issued is CHF 587’000. The collateral value of commercial properties, incoming-producing buildings and private houses of high standing is determined with the help of external appraisers.
 
Counter-creditors risks in inter-banking business
In inter-banking business and trading activities a system of internal limits is used, the observance of which is checked daily by the Risk Control unit. The Group works essentially with primary counterparts. The amount of the allocated limit mainly depends on the external rating. Limits are reviewed every quarter. In the event of extreme market conditions, a daily assessment is carried out. Risks connected with OTC derivative trading operations are further mitigated by complying with the CLS system and entering into netting and collateral agreements.

 


Risks of interest rate fluctuations


On-balance sheet transactions play a secondary role for the Group. The risks of fluctuation of interest rates however are monitored quarterly by the Risk Control unit and assessed during the ALM committee (ALCO) meeting. Measurement takes place using the “modified duration” method to establish the potential impacts on the income statement and on capital in the event of sudden large-scale movements in the interest rates curve. To date ALCO has not considered it necessary to promote hedging operations with derivative financial instruments.

 


Other market risks


Currency risks
The Group keeps currency exposure constantly at an essential break-even level in order to minimise the effects deriving from fluctuations in foreign currencies. The position is monitored daily.

Trading activities
Risks are contained by virtue of limited operations carried out on the Group’s own account and strict limits imposed to the operating units managing the Group portfolios. Derivative instrument transactions are carried out exclusively on behalf of clients.

 
Cash


The Parent Company’s Treasury Department is in charge of operations ensuring compliance with the strategies and limits established by the governing bodies in order to constantly guarantee the Group’s solvency even in critical circumstances.
The Risk Control unit independently measures and assesses exposure to liquidity risk, verifies the observance of legal limits and internal provisions, prepares and runs stress tests, and provides Operations Management and ALCO with all the necessary support.


Operational risk


Operational risk are limited through a series of internal regulations and provisions. A document entitled “Managing Operational risk” sets out the procedures for identifying, measuring, controlling, and mitigating operating risks and establishing risk tolerance (Risk appetite). First-level control is an integral part of daily operations. Second-level control is carried out by departments other than the one being audited and is managed through a controls certification and reporting system able to guarantee an adequate flow of information to all levels.
Internal Audit constantly monitors the adequacy of the procedures. The Compliance service ensures that regulations and diligence requirements affecting the Group’s various areas of operations are respected. The Group has a business continuity plan to ensure operating continuity even in case of extraordinary events that limit the availability of personnel, infrastructure and information systems.