Regulators end ‘too big to fail’ culture of banks

Global regulators have reached a draft agreement on a rule on stopping banks from being ‘too big to fail’ by requiring them to hold enough equity capital and bonds to avoid taxpayers being called on in a crisis.

The proposed standard is known as total loss absorbency capacity (TLAC) and Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who chairs the global regulatory Financial Services Board (FSB), has described it as the last major reform after the 2007-09 financial crisis forced governments to shore up lenders.

The rule will apply to nearly all the 30 big banks that the FSB deemed to be “globally systemic” such as Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, and HSBC.

“At today’s meeting, FSB members discussed the TLAC impact assessments and agreed the draft final principles and the updated term sheet,” the FSB said late on Friday.

The FSB did not publish details of the agreement, but a source familiar with the deal said it mirrored proposals made at a G20 meeting in Ankara earlier this month.

That would see the two-stage introduction of a buffer of debt from 2019 that can be “bailed in” to raise equity equivalent to 16% of a bank’s risk-weighted assets, the source said, rising to 20% from 2022.

The FSB said members supported consistent implementation of the robust minimum standard, adding that the TLAC standard and its timelines would be finalised by the time of the G20 Summit in November.

Separately, the FSB also approved the first version of a similar rule for major insurers, the Higher Loss Absorbency standard, which requires them to hold an extra buffer on top of the basic capital requirements.

Meanwhile, thousands of jobs cuts, business closures and billions of euros of capital raising are all on the cards as the new bosses of three of Europe’s biggest banks respond to pressure to devise new strategies to revive them.

Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam, Deutsche Bank’s John Cryan, and Standard Chartered’s Bill Winters are putting the final touches to their plans, which Thiam and Cryan will unveil next month and Winters is expected to deliver in early December.

All have been in charge roughly 100 days, a period when new chief executives typically formulate strategy after meeting investors, regulators, politicians, customers and staff. Big job cuts loom in a bid to cut costs and improve profitability, their main target.

Cryan is to cut 23,000 staff, or about a quarter of headcount, mostly from disposals, financial sources told Reuters earlier this month.

Winters could axe several thousand, sources said, although they said no final decisions had been made and much will depend on disposals.

Meanwhile Thiam has said he plans to use his engineering background to take a hard-nosed look at efficiency.

Senior management ranks are also being shaken up, Winters has named a new management team and is cutting layers of bureaucracy to simplify and speed up decision-making while Thiam immediately brought in a long-time confidant as his chief of staff and moved a couple more staff.

Other banks, including CEO-less Barclays and Italy’s UniCredit are also going through the process, but new CEOs are under pressure to come in with a fresh view to take bold action.


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