Financial Sector Regulation - Issues and Gaps - Background Paper

Financial Sector Regulation - Issues and Gaps - Background Paper


Financial Sector Regulation - Issues and Gaps - Background Paper

I. Financial System Structure and Trends: Implications for Financial Regulation

1. Financial systems across the world show considerable diversity and continue to evolve. This section discusses selected structural features and recent trends in financial systems with important implications for financial sector regulation. These include the following: (i) increased conglomeration and risk transfer; (ii) significant and growing internationalization; (iii) growing dollarization; (iv) weaknesses in infrastructure underpinning regulatory systems; and (v) government ownership of financial institutions. Appendix I in Section I summarizes the key issues and regulatory challenges by region—as brought out by recent FSAP reports—in the same sample of 36 countries covered in the main paper.

A. Increased Conglomeration and Risk Transfer

2. Growing linkages among different segments of the financial system—banks, insurers, pension funds, securities firms—are a key trend in the financial sectors. These linkages are increasingly complex, due to a number of factors, including the formation of financial conglomerates and new methods of risk transfer, including credit derivatives.

3. The main factor leading to the formation of conglomerates is financial system liberalization, allowing cross-ownership among firms in different sectors in many countries. Improvements in technology, which lowered telecommunication and information costs, have also facilitated the expansion of these financial conglomerates across borders. The industry often cites revenue enhancement and diversification resulting from wider range of products and the ability to offer one-stop shopping to clients and economies of scope in the production of financial services as the reason for growing conglomeration. While there may be benefits in cross-selling some products and services, the evidence on economies of scope is not clear-cut. Globalization of clients of major financial institutions, who demand not only global access to services, but also wide product mix, likely contributed to the conglomeration trend.

4. In emerging markets, the motivation for conglomeration is similar to the reasons in advanced economies, but the focus on banking has been stronger. The catalyst here may have been the deregulation pursued in response to macroeconomic pressures and banking crises in the 1990s, combined with higher capital requirements, threatened profits, and an encouragement of more competitive behavior, see BIS (2001) and IMF (2001). Universal banking allowed banks to diversify from traditional commercial banking to retain customers who, for instance, started raising funds through securities rather than borrowing.

5. The trend in conglomeration globally is documented in recent studies. The conglomeration trend can be observed both in regions where conglomeration has been historically allowed (Western Europe) and in jurisdictions where restrictions on permissible activities of intermediaries have been lifted only recently (United States and Japan). The evidence on large financial institutions worldwide indicates remarkable increases in conglomeration in some emerging market countries.

6. More specifically, the evidence in De Nicoló et al. (2003a) comes from an examination of firm-level data for the largest 500 financial institutions worldwide.1 These institutions were classified as conglomerates or nonconglomerates based on information on their major lines of business and/or main activities (for example banking, insurance, and securities). As suggested by Table 1 below, the predominance of conglomerates within the top financial institutions has increased between 1995 and 2000 from 42 percent to 60 percent, as measured by number of conglomerates in the sample and from 72 percent to 80 percent, as measured by assets held by conglomerates. The increase of conglomeration has been recorded in all subgroups, from the top 50 to the top 500 firms, with the level of conglomeration being the highest among the largest firms.

Table 1.

Conglomeration Trends: by Asset Size

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Source: De Nicoló et al. (2003a), original data from Worldscope.

7. In terms of regional trends, conglomeration increased in all regions depicted in Table 2 below as measured by the number of conglomerates among the largest financial firms. The same holds true—except for the United States—if we measure the prevalence of conglomeration by total assets.

Table 2.

Conglomeration Trends: by Region

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Source: De Nicoló et al. (2003a), original data from Worldscope.

8. The impact of conglomeration on systemic financial risk is not obvious. Conglomerates may benefit from economies of scope and product diversification, helping them become more efficient and reduce their risk profiles. On the other hand, firms with a wider range of activities can be tempted to take on more risk, particularly if they are large (as illustrated in Table 1) and may be considered to be “too big to fail” or become difficult to discipline effectively. Also, complex structures may become difficult and costly to manage efficiently (including the management of risk) and the risk faced by the conglomerate as a whole may be larger than the sum of risks faced by individual units since the results of one unit may be affected by the actions of another unit.2

9. De Nicoló et al. (2003a) found that large firms undertaking a wide scope of activities did not exhibit lower levels of risk than smaller and specialized firms in 1995, but exhibited higher risk-taking levels in 2000. The authors interpret this result to suggest that the factors creating incentives for firms to take on more risk, including moral-hazard-induced incentives, appear to have outweighed the risk reduction potentially achievable through scale and scope economies, both regarding geographic placement and product diversification. It should be noted that these results are still tentative and more work is needed to explore the impact of conglomeration on systemic risk.

10. From a regulatory perspective, there are several vulnerabilities. Besides the potential for systemic risk due to contagion, there could be conflicts of interest in the ownership structure. Moreover, the financial safety nets can be de facto extended to nonbank financial firms, if banking activities are not effectively ring fenced and public expectations are not carefully managed. Large conglomerates with complex structures pose particular challenges to understand and supervise effectively. Perhaps even more important, conglomeration increases the opportunities for regulatory and supervisory arbitrage, with firms channeling more risky activities to areas with relatively less developed or stringent regulation and supervision.3

11. Besides conglomeration, other forms of risk transfer within the financial sector have raised concerns of market observers, regulators, and policy makers. For instance, IMF (2002 and 2004) point out that the recent growth in credit derivatives as complex credit risk transfer instruments and the relative lack of transparency of these transactions have prompted concerns about risks migrating from the banking sector. Recently, various official and private sector organizations have undertaken work, including surveys of market participants, to shed more light on these issues. A Fitch (2003) survey concluded that the global banking industry was a significant buyer of protection, since it transferred nearly US$100 billion of credit risk outside the industry. Also, the Financial Stability Forum initiated work on a study on credit risk transfer in 2003.

12. IMF (2004) finds that there has been a relatively stronger growth in the credit exposure of the insurance sector compared to the banking sector. This study also argues that the broader and ongoing reallocation of credit risk could have implications for financial stability. This is despite the fact that the patterns and levels of insurer involvement in credit instruments differ widely across countries and, in gross terms, banks have conducted credit derivative transactions largely with other banks to achieve their desired exposures.4 However, the cited IMF study concluded, albeit with important caveats, that the relative reallocation of credit risk between the banking and insurance sectors appears to have enhanced financial stability.

B. Significant and Growing Internationalization

13. The increasing internationalization of financial sectors has been augmenting the regulatory challenges of conglomeration. As foreign ownership of financial intermediaries increases, systems need to be put in place to ensure proper cross-border coordination among supervisors. At the same time, appropriate adjustments to laws regulations, and deposit insurance systems should be introduced. Effective collaboration among supervisors is growing in importance as financial market shocks become more easily transmitted across borders and sectors. This is not just a problem for regulators in developed countries, but is fast becoming one for a greater number of developing and transitional countries as they become integrated into the global economy and financial system. This of course creates a situation where they are more vulnerable to shocks that are transmitted through patterns of capital flows and international financial markets.

14. Trends in internationalization have been given an impetus through discussions relating to market access, price limit issues, liberalization of financial sector, and the role of “prudential carve out” in the context of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) [see also Box 1]. As cross-border capital movements become liberalized and exchange rate controls are abolished or reduced, financial markets are becoming increasingly integrated. Furthermore, economic globalization enhances the strategic motives for businesses to expand internationally to compete, spurring a boom in cross-border mergers and acquisitions and foreign direct investment.5

Financial Services Liberalization and Regulatory Standards

Financial liberalization, the emergence of integrated financial services, financial conglomerates, and integrated financial sector supervision pose challenges for the current standards and codes. In several countries, some of the basic preconditions for effective supervision remain absent.

Fund staff work has so far focused on the liberalization of the capital account and its sequencing and coordination with the liberalization of financial sector reforms. Although a systematic approach toward issues relating to financial services liberalization and its linkages with trade liberalization has not been fully developed, some efforts have been made in the context of the FSAPs and the work relating to standards assessment.

The main issues concerning the linkages between financial and trade liberalization are related to these issues: (i) sequencing of reforms and the best approaches to create and improve the operation of financial markets and infrastructure; and (ii) market access and movement of capital issues, including prudential rules on licensing financial institutions, and rules governing the handling of domestically-owned and foreign-owned financial institutions.

Although evidence on the benefits and costs of financial liberalization is mixed (Aizenman, 2002), it is usually suggested that liberalization increases the probability of crises (Williamson and Mahar, 1998, Kaminsky and Reinhart, 1999). A stylized fact is that boom-bust cycles in investment, asset prices, and output are preceded by financial liberalization. However, not all countries that have liberalized their financial sectors experienced financial crises (Ishii and Habermeier, 2002). Although economic fundamentals and policies differ from one country to another, a common element of economies avoiding crises appears to be the good management of moral hazard problems. Differences in corporate governance and institutional environment may explain differences in potential fragilities and severity of eventual crises after liberalization (Mitton, 2002, Lemmon and Lins, 2002).

In this regard, Fund work suggests a need for careful sequencing in financial services liberalization, not just in the liberalization of capital flows. Although liberalizing long-term flows is desirable in principle, there is no simple method for devising an operational plan for sequencing and coordinating capital account liberalization with financial liberalization. The present approach regarding financial services rules pursued by a number of bodies (such as the Committee on Trade in Financial Services) suggests that liberalization should be based on verifiable benchmarks and transparency rules. A rules-based approach would bind members in their commitments to the extent that a perceived violation could result in use of dispute settlement procedures. Such an approach raises a number of questions regarding verification and adherence to regulatory standards. The question also arises as to what body would provide verification of adherence. Currently, the competing sets of standards and codes are largely voluntary (“soft law”), and hence not subject to litigation.

15. Significant and growing internationalization in the banking sector can be illustrated by foreign bank ownership data. Data compiled on the total assets and foreign-controlled assets in 143 countries across the world (Table 3), (with foreign-controlled assets defined as total assets of banks in which more than 50 percent of equity is owned by foreign entities) shows that in absolute terms, foreign-controlled assets increased worldwide by almost 40 percent between 1995 and 2002. The total foreign-controlled asset share, or the ratio of foreign-controlled assets to total assets, has been growing gradually, from 19.7 percent to 21.5 percent during this same time period.

Table 3.

Foreign-Controlled Bank Assets: by Region

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Sources: Compiled from IMF’s International Financial Statistics and Fitch-IBCA.

16. These developments in foreign ownership have not been uniform. Foreign-controlled assets have increased most in Latin America, most likely as a result of progress in privatization, and in Europe, due to an advanced process of European integration and ownership consolidation. A significant increase was also recorded in the United States, but the foreign ownership share in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia remained virtually unchanged, while East Asia recorded a 5 percent decline in foreign ownership share.6

17. Internationalization may allow economies of scale and favor financial firms’ geographic diversification, thereby reducing the risk profile of those firms that expand internationally. However, the possible capture of the highest quality customers by foreign institutions may leave domestic financial firms to serve a higher proportion of domestic higher risk customers, thereby worsening risk profiles. In addition, protected domestic institutions, such as state-owned banks, may respond to increased foreign competition by venturing into higher risk areas to maintain their franchise value. These developments reinforce the need to look at the challenges posed to supervision of financial sector activities across jurisdictions, such as the growing need for effective coordination of supervisory activities across borders.

C. Growing Dollarization

18. One of the important trends in financial systems in recent years has been a substantial increase of de facto dollarization, that is, the domestic use of foreign currency (mostly the U.S. dollar) in many developing, emerging market, and transition economies. In these economies, foreign currency partly assumes all three functions of money—means of payment, store of value, and unit of account. Dollarization can be “official,” when the U.S. dollar is adopted as the legal tender, or “partial” when the local currency remains the legal tender but dollar-denominated transactions are permitted, effectively allowing a bicurrency system to take hold.

19. While financial dollarization has not affected all countries equally, it is widespread, and on an upward trend 7 As documented by De Nicoló, Honohan, and Ize (2003), the annual growth rate in dollarization across the world during the 10 years to 2001 has been about 1 percentage point per year. There were important variations in dollarization trends, however, both across regions and across countries. Dollarization increased the most in Latin America and transition economies, increased moderately in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and remained constant or slightly declined in the Caribbean and in developed countries (Table 4). Even prior to the recent increases, however, the level of dollarization has been substantial. Most recently available, 2001, data show that deposit dollarization exceeded 50 percent in South America and was close to this level in transition economies.

Table 4.

Average Foreign Currency Deposits to Total Deposits

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Sources: De Nicoló, Honohan, and Ize (2003), original data from IMF’s International Financial Statistics, Economic Data Sharing System, and central banks’ statistical publications.

20. Dollarization can have important implications for financial stability. Balance sheet effects and the diminished role of central banks as lenders of last resort are usually mentioned among the main risks entailed by dollarization. Although it is suggested that financial dollarization entails not only risks, but also benefits (Baliño, Bennett, and Borensztein, 1999), the exposure to solvency and liquidity risks might make financial systems inherently more fragile. Empirical evidence suggests that financial dollarization may increase the vulnerability of financial systems to solvency and liquidity risks. Cross-country estimates of the impact of dollarization on key financial soundness indicators are consistent with the hypothesis that increased dollarization increases financial vulnerability [see De Nicoló, Honohan, and Ize (2003) and Box 2]. The variance of deposit growth is positively and significantly correlated with dollarization, suggesting that dollarized financial systems may be more exposed to credit cycles and liquidity risk. Based on estimates of nonperforming loans (NPLs) or a composite systemic risk measure, dollarized economies also tend to be more exposed to solvency risk. The main risks likely result from the currency mismatches, which in the event of large depreciation can affect a financial institution’s balance sheet both directly and indirectly by worsening the quality of its foreign currency portfolio.

Dollarization and Regulatory Standards

Do regulatory standards directly or indirectly address the potential risks caused by dollarization? By promoting healthy institutions, ensuring sound supervisory and regulatory frameworks they can help strengthen individual financial institutions. Given the risks posed by dollarization, proper guidance is needed, particularly for emerging and developing market supervisors. Regulators do address dollarization risks directly by improving supervision, regulation, and the quality of surveillance, and indirectly by strengthening financial infrastructure. Moreover, the “preconditions” also assume special importance in the context of the risks posed by dollarized financial systems.

In particular, the principles relating to capital adequacy and risk management, and regulations regarding solvency and liquidity, can help national authorities to deal with potential vulnerabilities posed by dollarization by, for instance: (i) including capital requirements for exchange-rate-related risks; (ii) imposing adequate regulatory limits on banks’ open foreign exchange positions; (iii) imposing adequate reserve requirements; (iv) setting out adequate requirements for evaluating asset quality and the adequacy of loss provisions and reserves for loans in foreign currency; (v) establishing adequate systems for the granting and managing of dollar loans and investments; and (vi) requiring banks to have in place proper systems to measure, monitor, and control foreign-currency-related market and material risks.

21. The limited backing of banks’ dollar liabilities by U.S. dollars and their convertibility at par subjects the financial system to a very specific type of liquidity risk. Systemic liquidity risk arises when the demand for local assets falls, due to a perceived increase in country or banking risk, prompting foreign banks to recall short-term lines of credit and depositors to convert their deposits into dollars or transfer them abroad. Unless liquid dollar liabilities are backed by sufficient liquid dollar assets abroad, banks may run out of dollar liquid reserves and fail to pay off dollar liabilities. Similarly, central banks may run out of international reserves to provide dollar lender of last resort support to distressed banks. When this happens, deposit (or loan) contracts may need to be broken and disruptive or confiscatory measures taken, imposing a heavy cost on the financial system.

22. Dollar deposits are often more vulnerable to runs than local currency deposits, even in the absence of exchange rate adjustments. In highly dollarized countries, local currency deposits are mostly held for transaction purposes, and are less affected by expected yield differentials than dollar deposits, which are predominantly held as store of value and are close substitutes for deposits abroad or dollars cash. Moreover, even when the demand for local currency deposits is affected, the small size of these deposits in the most highly dollarized countries limits the threat they represent to banks’ liquidity.

23. The lack of dollar monetary instruments can further inhibit the scope for interest rate defenses against deposit withdrawals. An interest rate defense may be ineffective once a run has started because the central bank has limited ability to raise the interest rate on dollar deposits. Banks are often reluctant to raise interest rates on dollar deposits, because of concerns that increasing rates may be interpreted as a sign of weakness, further exacerbating deposit withdrawals.

D. Weaknesses in Infrastructure Underpinning Regulatory Systems

24. Regulation is only part of a wider range of measures that are needed to ensure the development, proper functioning and stability of financial systems. The financial sector and its regulators must rely on the underpinning infrastructure that allows the economy to function properly. These arrangements are largely outside the authority of regulators and supervisors.

25. The infrastructure underpinning regulation as noted within the various standards differs, but many common features exist. In the area of banking, as recognized by the Basel Core Principles, this infrastructure includes (i) sound and sustainable macroeconomic policies; (ii) a well-developed public infrastructure, including reliable accounting, auditing, and legal and judiciary systems; (iii) effective market discipline; (iv) procedures for efficient resolution of problem banks; and (v) mechanism for providing an appropriate level of systemic protection (public safety net). In insurance, the first Insurance Core Principle addresses conditions for effective insurance supervision and states that insurance supervision relies on the following principles: (i) a policy, institutional, and legal framework for financial sector supervision; (ii) a well-developed and effective financial market infrastructure; and (iii) efficient financial markets. In the securities area, each jurisdiction is expected to have an appropriate and effective legal, tax, and accounting framework in place.

26. Recent assessments of compliance with regulatory standards found a number of weaknesses in the underpinning infrastructure.8 The most frequent weaknesses in the case of the banking sector were (i) unstable macroeconomic conditions; (ii) obsolete bankruptcy laws, long judicial delays in loan collection and procedures for collateral foreclosure; (iii) weak accounting standards, lack of meaningful financial reports; (iv) inefficient resolution of bank problems; and (v) a widespread presumption that the authorities would not allow any bank to fail. In insurance, some countries have been found to have outdated laws and only few qualified insurance professionals, with other weaknesses—in judiciary and accounting, for instance—similar to those of banking. In securities regulation, the most frequently cited concerns relate to the inadequacy of the general bankruptcy and insolvency procedures, with enforceability of legal obligations, the operation of the judicial system and the quality of accounting standards being other major concerns.

27. A survey of published Basel Core Principles (BCP) ROSCs, focusing on the preconditions for banking supervision, suggests that there are only minor weaknesses in developed countries (Appendix II presents detailed results).9 Preconditions for effective banking supervision are generally in place in advanced economies; in fact, in none of the five cases has there been any significant concerns reported. The ROSCs suggest that accounting and auditing are generally well developed and in compliance with international standards. Transparency requirements generally appear to allow investors to evaluate the financial condition of credit institutions. A range of corrective measures is available and, apparently, no major obstacles to their use exist. The legal framework is well established and comprehensive, the judiciary is well developed, and no problems with credit culture are reported.

28. In developing countries, a number of shortcomings in the underpinning infrastructure were observed. Transparency is rather low, at times due to opaque financial statements and problems in accounting and auditing. Although some countries have moved to International Accounting Standards (IAS) recently, there are problems with application of the standards. There are exceptions, however, where national accounting standards are closely aligned to IAS with relatively solid disclosure practices. Supervisors in developing countries generally have a range of corrective measures for problem bank resolution, but their practical application is often weak and slow.

29. The emerging market economies exhibit considerable heterogeneity. Some countries benefit from well-functioning accounting systems, auditing in line with international standards, considerable disclosure requirements, and efficient legal and judicial systems (albeit with some gaps). However, many emerging markets that recently experienced the transition to market economies face substantial challenges in making their accounting systems consistent with international practices, and the need to test and properly implement recent changes in their legal system.

30. Overall, published ROSCs point to significant problems in preconditions, primarily in emerging and developing countries. However, despite favorable ROSC assessments, advanced economies have not avoided manifestations of weaknesses in infrastructure in recent years. Since the late 1990s, aggressive accounting practices by some companies, lapses in investor oversight, and gaps in regulatory enforcement have been observed. In the past two years, investor trust in reported earnings and accounting practices was shaken by several major restatements of earnings by high-profile firms in North America and Europe, including WorldCom, Xerox, Parmalat, Vivendi and Nortel. These incidents brought the issues already raised by Enron’s collapse into sharp focus, fueling the debate over accounting, disclosure and transparency issues. The need to further develop informationsharing mechanisms between regulators, both domestically and internationally, was also highlighted by these incidents.

31. The relationship between preconditions and implementation can also be illustrated by the correlation between governance indices and average level of regulatory standards implementation. To illustrate this point, an index of average implementation of three standards—BCP, IAIS, and IOSCO 10 core principles—is used for 36 Fund member countries. In these countries, an evaluation was undertaken across banking, insurance, and securities sectors in the context of the joint Bank-Fund Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP). All three standards classify the level of implementation of individual principles into four categories, denoted as compliant, largely compliant, broadly compliant, and noncompliant. Each of the categories was assigned a numeric value, from 4.0 (compliant) to 1.0 (noncompliant). Simple averages of the regulatory principles compliance were used to obtain average level of implementation across the three standards. As a measure of preconditions, indices were used of the rule of law and overall government effectiveness compiled by Kaufmann, Kraay, and Mastruzzi (2003).11

32. The data show a clear positive relationship between rule of law and government effectiveness on one hand and the average level of implementation of standards on the other hand (Figures 1 and 2). However, the level of preconditions observance—the rule of law index as well as other governance indicators like overall government effectiveness—is also positively correlated with the level of income across countries. In fact, the correlation coefficient between the rule of law and income was 0.84 in our sample, while the same indicator for government effectiveness and income stood at 0.85. Further research will be needed to disentangle the interaction between income level and regulatory preconditions and their relevance for standards implementation and performance of the financial sector.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Rule of Law and Implementation of Regulatory Stand

Citation: Policy Papers 2004, 030; 10.5089/9781498330183.007.A001

Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Government Effectiveness and Implementation of Regulatory Standards

Citation: Policy Papers 2004, 030; 10.5089/9781498330183.007.A001

E. Government Ownership of Financial Institutions

33. In many countries, the financial system structure is characterized by the prevalence of state-owned financial firms. While the phenomenon of state ownership is more common in the banking industry, it is also seen in the insurance and securities sectors. State ownership generates special concerns which may not be addressed fully by the sector standards. We explore the first issue—the implications of government ownership—in this subsection.

34. La Porta, Lopez-De-Silantes, and Sleifer, (2002) document the continuation of a large and pervasive government ownership of banks around the world. Based on a sample of 92 countries, the authors found that in an average country 42 percent of the equity of the 10 largest banks was owned by the government in 1995. While this share was down from 59 percent in 1970, apparently due to the transition to a market economy in many countries, it remains sizeable.

35. A recent Fund staff survey confirms that governments continue to be a major presence not only in banking, but also in the areas of insurance, contractual savings and investment schemes.12 In banking, despite several privatization initiatives over the past decade, public sector banks still account for an estimated 40 percent of total banking sector assets. The survey also shows that a government presence also exists, albeit in a lesser degree, in insurance and contractual savings and investment schemes. In addition, although it is often more prominent in the developing world, a government presence can also play an important role in the developed world, taking a variety of forms from explicit (banking in Germany) to implicit (government-sponsored enterprises in the United States), see Table 5.

Table 5.

State-Owned Financial Institutions: A Cross-Country Survey

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Under commercial banks, advanced economies, institutions, includes one bank providing both banking and insurance services, and another bank providing banking, insurance, and asset management services.

Under commercial banks, other emerging and developing economies, the total number of institutions includes four banks providing banking and asset management services, and one bank providing banking, insurance, and securities services.

Under insurance companies, other emerging and developing economies, the total number of institutions includes re-insurance companies.

Under the total, advanced economies, the number of institutions exclude 520 savings banks owned by the state and local governments reported by one country for which aggregated data was reported.

36. The size of the SFI sector can be significant (Table 6). In the sample, the size of the assets of the state-owned financial institutions (SFI) varied from insignificant to 159 percent of GDP. Among the different types of institutions, banks tended be the most significant in size, with the largest a single bank having assets equal to 47 percent of GDP, development banks 13 percent, insurance companies 2.9 percent, development financial institutions 2.3 percent and a pension fund 18 percent. The size of the assets under management of AMCs was not given.

Table 6.

State-Owned Financial Institutions: Size

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Note: Under the size to GDP column, 100+ includes 520 banks excluded from Table 1, which together account for 48 percent of GDP in the country.

37. State-owned financial firms have the same need for adequate supervision as privately owned banks, insurance companies, and securities firms. Government ownership creates a number of additional regulatory problems: (i) weak corporate governance structure and management; (ii) political interference with business decisions at the firm, such as taking on risks at unprofitable prices to support a political objective, (iii) conflicts of interest, such as preferential lending to state-owned enterprises or investing assets in other state-owned firms without prudent due diligence; (iv) difficulties in implementing and enforcing any remedial measures that would be normally imposed on privately owned firms; and (v) the absence of market discipline owing to the lack of influential public investors or the fact that counterparties assume that the government will bail out or act as a backstop to the obligations that its firms undertake.

II. Assessment of Regulatory Standards: An Update on Levels of Observance

38. Assessments of regulatory standards are undertaken, primarily in the context of the FSAP. The assessment findings are used to support the broader assessment of the macroeconomic and structural risks affecting financial systems. The FSAP also provides a common platform for policy advice and technical assistance relating to the implementation of regulatory standards. Specifically, the standards assessments under the FSAP are aimed at: (i) identifying regulatory strengthens, risks and vulnerabilities, (ii) assessing the level of observance of regulatory standards, (iii) ascertaining the financial sector’s developmental and technical assistance needs; and (iv) prioritizing financial sector policies to meet these needs.

39. Since the inception of the FSAP, 158 assessments of regulatory standards have been carried out as of end-June, 2004 (see Appendix I in this section).13 These assessments have aimed at providing country authorities with: (i) a comparison of their regulatory system with the internationally accepted benchmark in this area, (ii) an identification of regulatory vulnerabilities that could feed into the overall assessment of the risks and vulnerabilities their economies are facing; and (iii) developmental needs pertaining specifically to financial regulation and to make informed policy decisions about the reforms needed. Motivated by the need to develop comprehensive and thoroughgoing standards assessment tools and techniques, Fund (and Bank) staff have been working with the respective standard-setting bodies to prepare methodologies, templates, guidance notes and review techniques to strengthen the assessment process.

40. The experience thus far, has however, raised the following practical issues relating to the assessment process: (i) how to assess actual implementation; (ii) the best way to account for country-specific factors; (iii) application of standards and the individual principles on the basis of their relative significance depending on stages of development and the regulatory preconditions; and (iv) cross-sectoral issues and interdependencies between standards.

41. To address some of these issues, the Fund staff (together with the Bank staff) has adopted a four-pronged strategy, which encompasses:

  • An analysis and review of the experience with the assessment of individual standards. Based on the analysis, provide feedback to the standard setters suggesting issues to be considered while reviewing the standards and assessment methodologies.

  • Obtain feedback from national authorities on the assessment experience and determine usefulness of the assessment outcome.

  • Discuss with the FSAP mission chiefs and Bank-Fund staff the relevance of the standards assessments in the diagnosis of a country’s financial system vulnerabilities and development priorities.

Cooperating official institutions

42. Drawing upon the expertise of the Fund-Bank staff and experts from Cooperating Official Institutions (COIs), the regulatory standards assessment framework offers “peer review” of national regulatory, and oversight systems. Fund staff has worked closely with COIs in identifying experts for use in various FSAPs. Starting from a small base in FY 2000, the list of COIs now comprise over 65 institutions (Appendix Table I in this section).

Table 1.

List of FSAP Cooperating Official Institutions

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43. The assessments are based on on-site discussions with country regulators and market participants. Regulators primarily come from the supervisory agency, but discussions are also held with the staff from the other agencies. The draft assessment is required to be discussed with the regulators with a view to ensuring the accuracy of the information on which the assessment is based. This provides them with an opportunity to react to the assessment. The assessment template requires that authorities’ views are recorded together with any disagreements about the assessment remain after these discussions. The draft assessment is usually discussed again at the end of the mission with a wider group of country authorities and left with them.

A. Basel Core Principles

44. The last review of compliance with the BCP was carried out and reported to the Board in 2002 (SM/02/310). This update reveals that the overall profile of the results has not altered. Similar areas are showing strengths or weaknesses, and notwithstanding better overall performance of industrialized countries, similarities in relative strengths and weaknesses exist across country income groups (industrialized, developing and emerging). It is significant to note that in all countries the broad area of credit risk management has relatively low rates of compliance.

45. Two crucial areas that are also relatively weak are those of capital adequacy and consolidated supervision. The two areas are connected, as in a number of cases, capital adequacy systems were considered noncompliant or materially noncompliant because capital adequacy was not calculated on a consolidated basis. Also other prudential standards, such as those related to loan quality and other prudential standards are much less meaningful if supervision is not exercised on the basis of consolidated reports, accounts, and implementation of remedial action. The principle on anti-money laundering is also among those that are insufficiently implemented in many countries (Table 7).

Table 7.

Observance of Basel Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision

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B. IAIS Core Principles on Insurance Supervision

46. Observance of the IAIS Core Principles on Insurance Supervision has been assessed in 42 jurisdictions. The Core principles have been revised in October 2003, but the assessments on which the current review is based were adopted in October 2000. Overall, observance differs across core principles, with several weaknesses and strengths. As shown in Table 8, the area in which insurance supervision is most deficient relates to corporate governance of insurance companies. Less than one-third of countries is observant or broadly observant with this core principle. This is mainly a result of unclear jurisdiction of the insurance supervisory bodies over corporate governance issues. Rules on corporate governance are to be found in general in corporate law. Also in the field of internal controls the supervisory authorities seem to have limited jurisdiction, and the system depends on general corporate laws and regulations.

Table 8.

Observance of IAIS Core Principles

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47. The major areas of assessed weaknesses are organization of the supervisor and asset risk management. The organization of a supervisory agency needs to be improved in broadly one-third of the countries assessed. In a significant number of cases, the insurance regulator was incorporated into the Ministry of Finance, but insufficient resources and unclear budgetary autonomy proved to be problematic in many cases. Although observance is better in this area, risk management with regard to the asset portfolio is still weakly supervised in approximately one third of countries, mostly concentrated in developing and emerging market countries. As in the banking sector, this is an area of serious concern, mainly because adverse developments in asset values would in all likelihood directly impact the financial viability of the institutions. Deficiencies also occur in supervision of off-balance sheet exposures, notably in derivatives in more than half of the countries assessed. These issues arise mainly in developing and emerging market countries, and consist primarily in the absence of any regulations in this area.

48. Other areas of concern relate to market conduct. Rules were in many cases limited to rules on registration of brokers and agents and cross-border operations. The most important issue with regard to this principle relates to deficiencies in the exchange of information with other supervisors.

C. IOSCO Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation

49. In April, 2002, the Executive Boards of the Fund and Bank were provided with an overview of the experience with the assessment of the IOSCO Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation. The paper concluded that weaknesses in the implementation of many of the Principles were evident across the range of jurisdictions assessed, although the most marked concerns related to assessments of developing and emerging markets. The paper also touched on the difficulties in drawing clear connections between the weaknesses identified in regulation of securities markets and financial sector vulnerabilities.

50. Since publication of the paper, a number of developments have occurred with respect to the assessment process. For example, in late 2001, IOSCO recommended a new grading scale for the IOSCO self-assessment process that was subsequently adopted in the FSAP. The new scale introduced an additional assessment category of “broadly implemented,” thus providing assessors with greater scope to reflect implementation of Principles that was substantially, although not fully, effected. In addition, in 2003 IOSCO finalized work on the development of an assessment methodology. The IOSCO Assessment Methodology provides a comprehensive framework for analyzing the implementation of the Principles and is especially strong in establishing the market and regulatory context for the various Principles. In some respects, however, the Methodology could be viewed as overly rigid in outlining the benchmarking process to determine grades.

51. An analysis of a completed IOSCO assessment indicates that there are specific areas of weakness in the implementation of the IOSCO Principles. Weaknesses in implementation are particularly evident with respect to principles for enforcement of securities regulation (Principles 8–10) and principles for issuers (Principles 14–16). Assessors overall found that regulators had a lack of authority to investigate, had limited access to time-sensitive data needed for surveillance purposes, insufficient resources for inspection, surveillance and investigation, and often a limited enforcement mandate. With respect to issuers, there is a clear need for more efficient methods to disseminate information to the public and to improve the quality of the information being released. In addition, there is a need to improve the legislative and policy framework relating to the treatment of shareholders, enhance the regulatory regime for auditors, and also address the lack of harmonization between international and domestic accounting and auditing standards.

52. In turn, the Principles with relatively higher levels of full and broad implementation are regulation of collective investment schemes (Principles 18-19), market intermediaries and the secondary market (Principles 21 and 25) and Principles 1 and 4-5 regarding the regulator. Some common deficiencies noted by the assessors in terms of the issues relating to the regulator include the following: a lack of operational independence; limited enforcement powers; and inadequate resources, thus hampering the ability to perform regulatory functions efficiently and effectively. The lack of operational independence raises particular questions as to control of resources (both human and financial). The lack of a clear mandate, or the lack of clear regulatory powers, also inhibits regulatory functions, such as licensing, access to necessary (sometimes confidential) data, and so forth. Other common deficiencies include the need for appropriate regulations dealing with collective investment schemes; the need to expand the scope of the regulator’s responsibilities; and improvement of licensing requirements for trading systems and increase the scope of trading arrangements.

53. While assessors are not able to readily consider preconditions, the comments in specific assessments do, nevertheless, allude to the poor state of legal and accounting systems in many jurisdictions. For example, many assessments note the inadequacy of the accounting framework—both in terms of standards and professional arrangements—as linked to weaknesses in the implementation of the Principles for issuers. Likewise, audit issues are commonplace and aspects of the oversight of auditors feature prominently in many assessments. The insolvency regime is, not surprisingly, often cited as requiring attention in those jurisdictions exhibiting lower levels of implementation of the Principles related to market intermediaries. An efficient court system, highly skilled legal profession, and well-designed administrative review processes would no doubt support strengthening of the enforcement of laws in those countries that have been assessed as not having fully implemented the Principles relating to enforcement and cooperation. (Table 9).

Table 9.

Observance of IOSCO Core Principles for Securities Regulation

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Source: Monetary and Financial Systems Department IOSCO Database

Common sample of countries assessed across the three sectors is 42.

III. Standard Setters: Ongoing Work Toward Strengthening Financial Regulation

54. Various initiatives are under way toward strengthening international guidance on financial regulation by standard setting bodies. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) are pursuing a three-fold strategy: (i) working individually and through the Joint Forum (comprising the BCBS, IAIS and IOSCO), to define areas of financial regulation in which it is desirable to develop internationally agreed-upon standards of best practice; (ii) providing guidance through studies, surveys, and reports in areas where international agreement may be slow; (iii) working with the Fund and the Bank staff on the FSAP to help foster implementation and convergence by as wide a range of countries as possible.

55. The ongoing work focuses specifically on a country’s prudential framework and regulatory practices. Work has also been accelerated in the area of financial integrity and safety net arrangements. It is widely recognized that regulators need to place a stronger focus on prudential standards, particularly on risk management and internal controls across sectors. However, issues such as the lack of a common accounting standards on the valuation of assets and liabilities of a regulated firm, and differing quality of auditing standards used to review them are keeping the process from reaching a meaningful convergence on the prudential framework across the three sectors. Attention is also being given to disclosure of accurate and timely information, sound legal environment, and financial market infrastructure, so as to strengthen the foundation for market discipline to complement official or regulatory discipline. Since many of these areas are outside the scope of the regulatory standard setters, substantial work is being undertaken in close collaboration with other standard setters such as the OECD, International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), FATF, and IASB.

56. However, the regulatory standards remain voluntary and have no legal force. The trend is toward their adoption by most countries. Their universality is considerably enhanced by their use in the FSAP. This is also helping in the adoption of a common regulatory approach, enabling countries to "benchmark" their current regulatory systems to international recognized practices. The Financial Stability Forum (FSF), set up in 1999, is also helping to facilitate both the development and the convergence processes. The principal standard setting bodies are the members of the FSF, and the Forum is welding together countries, international institutions and groupings, and the standard setters to work together closely on financial regulation issues.

57. Fund staff has been participating in work of standard setters. Recent Fund involvement, mostly through MFD staff participation, has been substantial in the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, mainly through work in both the Core Principles Liaison Group and the Working Group on Capital. Participation in the work of other standard setters has been focusing on the key issues relevant for the Fund mandate, on transparency in the reinsurance sector regarding the IAIS (Task Force on Transparency and Disclosure in Reinsurance) or implementation issues in the case of the IOSCO (Implementation Committee). Details about Fund staff involvement in the work of standard setters are provided in Appendix I of this section.

A. Objectives and Design of Regulatory Standards

58. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) will review the Basel Core Principles for Effective Supervision (BCP). This will likely take into account the framework for an updated Basel Capital Accord, so-called Basel II, issued by the Committee in June 2004. The Basel Committee member countries are expected to start implementing the new framework in 2007.15 Other supervisory authorities worldwide are encouraged by the BCBS to consider adopting the framework when it is consistent with their broader supervisory priorities. Within the European Union the intention is to include all credit institutions operating in EU-countries under a directive based on Basel II rules. Basel II, as such, will not become part of the BCP because it is not an international minimum standard applicable to all countries. However, many of its components are already in the Core Principles, such as detailed requirements for risk management and capital adequacy. Regulators will be required to have more powers and responsibilities to validate and assess banks’ management of risks and of capital. Banks’ board and management will be held responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the operation of the risk management systems. Regulators will also require banks to enhance public disclosure, in particular on information pertaining to risks and capital.

59. New guidance for the supervision of insurance is contained in a revised and expanded “Insurance Core Principles and Methodology” adopted by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) in October 2003. The 28 principles cover all aspects of a supervisory framework—from licensing to closure of activities. The principles also address such issues as transparency of the supervisory process, assessment and management of risk, consumer protection, and anti-money laundering. Initial steps have been taken to develop a comprehensive framework for the supporting standards and guidance for insurance supervision, consistent with the three pillars highlighted by Basel II. Using the revised insurance regulatory standard as a foundation, documentation is being prepared that address a range of issues more fully, including capital adequacy and solvency, use of third-parties (actuaries) as part of the supervisory model, and stress testing by insurers.

60. A Methodology for Assessing Implementation of the IOSCO Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation was adopted by the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) in October 2003. The methodology will assist jurisdictions in identifying areas where their securities regulations do not meet international standards. The methodology categorizes any failures in implementation by degree of severity, identifies areas for priority action, and helps developing action plans for any necessary reforms. IOSCO also updated and published in September 2003 a new version of the “Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation”, which includes references to work done from September 1998 to May 2003. A pilot program to assist its members in the completion of a self-assessment of their level of implementation of the IOSCO Core Principles was approved in February 2003. Pursuant to this pilot program, experts will assist each participating jurisdiction in the assessment and in the development of an action plan to correct identified deficiencies.

B. Regulatory Preconditions

61. A platform of standards which will allow the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) in 2005 is being completed by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). The IASB’s initial efforts have focused on improving International Accounting Standards (IASs), providing guidance to those companies adopting IFRSs for the first time, and issuing standards in the areas where current IASB literature is deficient. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) of the United States and the IASB continue to make progress on their convergence project.

62. The BCBS, IAIS, and IOSCO are providing input to the IASB in the development of standards in areas of supervisory interest. The BCBS Accounting Task Force has started to revise the BCBS paper "Sound Practices for Loan Accounting and Disclosure" and is planning to publish the document for consultation. In October 2003, the IAIS sent a comment letter on the IASB exposure draft regarding insurance contracts, noting the need for comparable and consistent accounting policies and for prevention of the accounting mismatch of assets and liabilities. The IOSCO Technical Committee completed a survey on the accounting review and enforcement mechanisms currently in place. IOSCO has also initiated a project on regulatory interpretations of IFRSs. The aim of the project is to improve communications among members for a consistent application and enforcement of IFRSs, with the major expected outputs of this project being a central database of regulatory decisions and a process for facilitating communications and cooperation among regulators.

63. In 2003, the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) completed its standards related to audit risk assessment. Standards on fraud, the form and content of the auditor’s report, quality control for both audit firms and audit engagements, on group audits and reviews of interim financial information are to be updated in 2004. Additional projects to be completed in 2005 include updating current standards on audit materiality, auditing accounting estimates and the audit of related party transactions. To achieve convergence of auditing standards on a worldwide basis, the IAASB is working closely with IFAC member bodies on joint projects and seeking the input of experienced standard setters, international and national regulators, and regional accountancy organizations. The BCBS, IAIS, and IOSCO also evaluate International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Board (IAASB) in order to provide supervisory input. In October 2003, IOSCO endorsed two Statements of Principles relating to (1) Auditor Oversight, and (2) Auditor Independence, which now represent international standards relating to these issues.

64. IFAC is working on achieving lasting reforms that increase confidence in the accounting profession and the credibility of financial information. IFAC proposals were approved in November 2003, with the BCBS, IAIS, IOSCO, the World Bank, and the European Commission closely involved in all stages of development. IFAC encourages accountability of the profession notably through its Code of Ethics, Compliance Program and Transnational Auditors Committee. IFAC standard setting committees—auditing, ethics, education and public sector accounting—will enhance the operations of their respective Consultative Advisory Groups to solicit both strategic and technical guidance from interested external parties. During 2004, IFAC anticipates approving seven Statements of Membership Obligations (SMOs) which will set standards of compliance. These will include following the IFAC Code of Ethics and using their best endeavors to support the adoption of the IFRS in their jurisdictions.

65. The drafting of international standards of practice for actuaries working in the field of insurance by the International Actuarial Association (IAA) has been progressing rapidly. While the impetus for this work was the IASB’s project on accounting for insurance contracts, it will also contribute to the effectiveness of insurance supervision.

66. A Survey on Auditor Oversight was undertaken by IOSCO. The survey will cover not only compliance with the existing IOSCO principles, but other aspects of oversight including legal frameworks. The questionnaire will capture information on existing practices that may not be in conformity with the IOSCO Principles and include a progress report on implementation of the principles. The BCBS has also issued a paper on the supervisors relationship with external auditors in 2002.

67. In the payment and securities settlement area, the Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems (CPSS) and the IOSCO are working together. A CPSS working group on general principles for payments infrastructure will formulate practical guidance procedures on the development and evolution of payment infrastructure by 2005. In the light of the growing interest in developing central counterparties (CCP) and expanding the scope of their services, the CPSS and IOSCO concluded that international standards for CCP risk management are a critical element in promoting the safety of financial markets. In recent years, the use of CCPs has moved beyond derivatives markets to many securities markets, including cash markets and over-the-counter markets. Although a CCP has the potential to reduce risks to market participants significantly, it also concentrates risks and responsibilities for risk management. A joint consultative report “Recommendations for Central Counterparties” has been issued in March 2004 for public comment.

C. Prudential Framework and Regulatory Practices

Cross-border and cross-sector issues

68. Building on the high-level principles for cross-border implementation of Basel II issued in August 2003, the BCBS is currently evaluating several case studies of internationally active banks. In January 2004, the BCBS released for consultation a set of high-level principles governing cooperation and effective information exchanges between home and host supervisors. The document, designed to reduce duplication of supervisory rules while preserving the legal powers of host country supervisors, sets out basic principles for supervisory cooperation. Currently, much of the work of the BCBS Accord Implementation Group is devoted to issues pertaining to the cross-border implementation of Basel II. On a related matter, a paper looking at the implications of foreign direct investment in the financial sector of emerging market economies was also published by the Committee on the Global Financial System (CGFS) in April 2004.

69. The BCBS, through its “offshore group”, issued papers on “Shell Banks and Booking Offices”, and “Parallel-owned Banking Structures” in January 2003. These papers set out recommendations for supervisors in licensing and supervising such institutions. The Financial Stability Forum (FSF) is presently reviewing its Offshore Financial Centers Initiative. In this document, the FSF encourages OFCs to enhance their prudential and supervisory standards.

70. A report “Trends in Risk Integration and Aggregation” was issued in August 2003 by the Joint Forum (BCBS, IAIS, IOSCO). The report builds on the previous efforts of the Joint Forum to better understand approaches to the management of major individual risks in the banking, insurance, and securities sectors. At the same time, the Joint Forum issued a report “Operational Risk Transfer Across Financial Sectors” to foster dialogue among supervisors and financial firms around the transfer of operational risk, both within a financial conglomerate and to third parties.

Risk management and internal control issues

71. Banks’ management of risk and capital will be more rigorously assessed by supervisors who, under Basel II, will be able to exercise more power and responsibilities. Under this framework, an individual bank can be required to maintain capital above the regulatory minimum, if its risks are deemed high or if its risk management is thought to be inadequate in relation to the norms.

72. A paper entitled “Management and Supervision of Cross-Border Banking Activities” was issued by the Electronic Banking Group of the BCBS in July 2003. It also carried out, at the end of 2003, a stocktaking exercise to collect input from members on electronic security and IT outsourcing developments in their respective countries. A report will be released, summarizing the relevant supervisory rules, policies and guidance that are currently in place and tentatively addressing the main supervisory concerns associated.

73. Best practices for risk management by banks have been identified by the BCBS. In 2003, the BCBS issued papers entitled “Sound Practices for the Management and Supervision of Operational Risk,” and “Consolidated Know-your-customer Risk Management”, and a consultative paper “Principles for the Management and Supervision of Interest Rate Risk.” The management of compliance risk (risk of legal or regulatory sanctions, financial loss or reputation damage) that a bank may suffer as a result of its failure to comply with applicable laws, rules and standards has been studied by the BCBS, with a consultative document on the compliance function in banks published in October 2003. Compliance risk management has become more formalized within the past few years and has emerged as a distinct risk management discipline.

74. Latest developments on the credit risk transfer (CRT) market are to be reviewed by the Joint Forum with a particular focus on the most recent CRT techniques (credit default swaps–CDS, and collateralized debt obligations–CDO). The Joint Forum will give emphasis to the issues most relevant for financial stability: (i) whether the instruments/transactions accomplish a clean risk transfer, (ii) the degree to which the CRT market participants understand the risks involved, and (iii) whether CRT activities are leading to undue concentrations of credit risk inside or outside the regulated financial sector. The Joint Forum provided an interim report to the FSF in March 2004; a final report, potentially encompassing some recommendations, is expected in September 2004.

75. The IAIS approved supervisory guidelines or issues papers “Quantifying and Assessing Insurance Liabilities,” “Stress Testing by Insurers,” and “Insurance Securitization” (life and non-life) in October 2003. A paper on investment risk management is nearing completion. The IAIS is also revising its paper “Principles on the Supervision of Insurance Activities on the Internet” for adoption in October 2004. The IAIS is also preparing a paper “Disclosure of Technical Performance and Risks of Non-life Insurers and Reinsurers,” to be completed in 2004, and one entitled “Disclosure of Investment Performance of Insurers and Reinsurers” expected in 2005.

76. IOSCO published a “Report on Investment Management Risk Assessment: Marketing and Selling Practices” in September 2003. It describes the relevant risk factors associated with the marketing and selling practices of a collective investment scheme operator as well as regulatory responses to those risks.

77. The transparency of corporate bond markets has been studied by IOSCO in a May 2004 report. The report reviews trading methodologies, transparency arrangements and regulatory frameworks for corporate bonds, including reporting requirements, in 15 developed countries. A number of core measures directed at the implementation of Principle 27 of the IOSCO Core Principles are proposed. These core measures call for greater access to bond market trading information and market surveillance to improve price discovery mechanisms and deter market manipulation.

78. A project on “outsourcing” has been undertaken by the Joint Forum. Supervised firms are increasingly entering into arrangements whereby other firms perform significant aspects of the entities’ regulated and/or unregulated functions. To the extent that such activities are outsourced to third party entities, supervisors need to ensure that the functions are performed in accordance with relevant policies and procedures, and that the supervisors can enforce compliance with such policies.

Capital requirements

79. The quantitative capital requirements of Basel II cover a wider range of risks, including credit, market and operational risks. Banks that have developed advanced risk measurement and management systems may be allowed by their supervisors to use these when calculating their capital requirements. Banks will also be allowed to benefit from a wider field of risk mitigates when calculating capital requirements.

80. “Principles on Capital Adequacy and Solvency” were developed by the IAIS. After having been adopted in 2002, they were incorporated as essential criteria under ICP 23 in the 2003 revision of the ICPs. A paper “Solvency Control Levels” prepared by IAIS was also adopted in October 2003. Two papers entitled “Appropriate Forms of Capital” and “Forms of Capital Adequacy Requirements” are expected in 2005. The IAIS has been supported in its work by the IAA, which has, for example, prepared a paper called “A Global Framework for Insurer Solvency Assessment” (adoption by the IAA expected in 2004). In addition, the Solvency II project is working toward the development of a harmonized, risk-based, three-pillar approach for use throughout the European Union. It is part of a number of supervisory authorities’ and multi-jurisdictional organizations’ efforts to strengthen capital adequacy and solvency frameworks.

Corporate governance issues

81. The OECD Steering Group on Corporate Governance has undertaken its assessment of the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance with a view to completing it by April/May 2004. The OECD is also progressing on the development of new “Guidelines for the Corporate Governance of State-Owned Assets,” due for completion by early 2005. In January 2004, the IAIS issued a compilation of existing documents detailing corporate governance requirements for insurers. The OECD should also complete new guidelines on governance of insurers in 2004.

82. Governance systems of collective investment schemes’ operators will be examined by IOSCO. The intended output of this work will be the identification of general principles on infrastructures for decision-making, conflicts of interest, fiduciary duties, investor rights and the transparency of information. IOSCO will conduct a survey of the different models of governance for collective investment schemes and their internal control framework and procedures.

Remedial action issues

83. A supervisory guidance paper “Solvency Control Levels,” was approved by the IAIS in October 2003. It emphasizes the need to intervene early when solvency levels are deteriorating.

84. IOSCO will undertake an initiative called the “Review and Enforcement of Application of Financial Reporting Standards.” This will focus on the range of activities and powers that relate to reviews of public company financial statements by securities regulators and others. This project will focus on the powers and activities of a review process, and criteria and actions needed, regardless of the accounting standards in use. The major output of this project is expected to be an IOSCO statement of principles, best practices, and/or descriptions of effective models in use for such review functions. This project is expected to conclude in 2005.

D. Financial Integrity and Safety Net Arrangements

85. A working group to follow up the April 2001 report of the Multidisciplinary Working Group on Enhanced Disclosure (MWGED) was created by the Joint Forum in 2002. The group has met with relevant end users of financial reports to gain knowledge about their disclosure needs and with a number of firms including hedge funds to hear their views on the MWGED recommendations. The group issued its report in May 2004.

86. The IAIS Reinsurance Task Force has developed a “Framework to Enhance the Transparency of the Global Reinsurance Market” in March 2004. It suggests measures to improve risk-oriented disclosure by individual reinsurance firms. An IAIS Steering Group has succeeded the Task Force to follow up on the various recommendations. The first report on global reinsurance statistics is expected to be issued by end-2004. Basel II requires enhanced public disclosure by the banks, in particular on information pertaining to risks and capital. This is intended to strengthen market discipline. The IAIS is currently preparing a paper “Disclosure of Technical Performance and Risks of Non-life Insurers and Reinsurers,” which is expected to be completed in 2004. A paper “Disclosure of Investment Performance of Insurers and Reinsurers” is to be completed in 2005.

Consumer protection issues

87. Recent high profile incidents in securities fraud and market abuse led IOSCO to set up a special chairmen’s Task Force in February 2004 to organize and coordinate IOSCO’s response. The priorities of the Task Force are to do the following: (i) identify potential new issues, including concerns about transparency in the bond markets, unregulated entities, complex group structures and appropriate levels of sanctions; (ii) review existing standards, including current mechanisms for international cooperation; and (iii) suggest responses aimed at producing regulatory incentives, such as better risk identification and assessment by regulators together with enhanced attention to uncooperative and underregulated jurisdictions.

88. A consultation document “Performance Presentation Standards for Collective Investment Schemes (CIS),” was issued by IOSCO in 2003. The final best practices paper on this topic was issued in May 2004. A new mandate to develop international best practices has been approved by IOSCO. Market timing, whereby arbitrageurs rapidly buy and sell shares in collective investment schemes to take advantage of out of date prices within a collective investment scheme’s net asset value, raises costs for the collective investment schemes and harms other investors by lowering the collective investment schemes’ overall returns.

89. The IAIS is developing a guidance paper called “Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism.” It will address topics such as features within the insurance industry, customer due diligence, role of the supervisor, and case studies. It is expected that the paper will be adopted in 2005. The IOSCO’s Task Force on Client Identification and Beneficial Ownership has developed a paper “Principles on Client Identification and Beneficial Ownership for the Securities Industry,” which was approved by the IOSCO Technical Committee in May 2004.

90. The International Association of Deposit Insurers was established in 2002. Its mission is to contribute to the enhancement of deposit insurance effectiveness by promoting guidance and international cooperation.

91. A special IOSCO Project Team on Cooperation has completed the development of a multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance information exchange among securities regulators and facilitate financial crime investigation. The MoU, which was endorsed in May 2002, builds on the many previously existing IOSCO Resolutions and Principles to establish an international benchmark for cooperation and information sharing. A report “Regulation of Intermediaries in a Cross-Border Environment” was issued by the IOSCO Technical Committee in September 2003. This report addresses regulatory issues relating to the increased provision of cross-border services by market intermediaries that do not have a physical presence in the jurisdiction in which the service is provided.

92. Implications of the use of Internet in securities related activities have been considered in a series of roundtable discussions hosted by IOSCO. Financial service regulators, consumer groups, financial service firms and relevant information services firms, such as Internet service providers, have been invited. A “Report on Securities Activity on the Internet III,” summarizing the discussions at the Roundtables, was adopted in October 2003.

Financial Sector Regulation - Issues and Gaps - Background Paper
Author: International Monetary Fund