Interview with our speaker Christopher Skak Nielsen

Written by: Fleming. Team

Christopher Skak Nielsen
Danske Bank
Head of Liquidity Risk Management

Liquidity stresses were a key factor in the downfall of banks such as Lehman Brothers. What is your opinion on that? Could they have prevented the fall? What are the lessons learnt?

The liquidity stress was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Lehman Brothers, but the problem was the underlying structural mismatch match on the balance sheet and the building of losses, which increased the solvency pressure. Many of the lessons learned from the financial crisis and from cases like Lehman Brothers and Northern Rock are being addressed with the introduction of LCR and NSFR through Basel III and other legislation such as the Money Market reform in the US.

Does Basel III address the issue of liquidity more thoroughly than Basel II? How?

Basel II did not introduce new regulation for liquidity and the requirements on liquidity were prescriptive rather than quantitative. Basel III introduces LCR and NSFR, which are two comprehensive measures, which address liquidity and funding resp.

Some experts say that liquidity stress tests are more difficult to conduct than capital ones. Why?

There are large sources of information on credit cycles for credit risk and market volatility for market risk, which can be used for capital stress testing. Very few banks have experienced a full liquidity stress and few banks survive it. So most banks have to calibrate the parameters based on external events rather than own experience – and the number of external events might be limited for the market in which the bank is operating in. In addition, the external data might difficult break into the categories, which are granular enough for the calibration. This leaves room for interpretation when calibrating the parameters.

Is there a linkage between the liquidity stress scenarios and the capital ones?

Scenarios are typically build around one or more events, which drives up the risks. For capital scenarios, the driver is typically macro-economic. Liquidity scenarios can be built of operational, reputation or capital events. So there can be a linkage with a capital scenario rolling into a liquidity scenario but they can also be analysed independently.

What are the key challenges of validating stress testing models?

The key challenges in validating are the same as in parameterisation the models – typically there is very little internal information to validate against.

You will talk about triggers – early warning indicators. Can you give us some examples of trends that may point to the development of a liquidity stress event?

Credit spreads in the financial markets are a good indication of the risk appetite and can therefore be seen as early warning indicators. It should not only be credit spread on the institution itself, but also for peers, for the sector and country/region in general. Other early warning indicators can be rumours and public opinion, which also are important to monitor.

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