The regulatory framework: balancing risk sensitivity, simplicity and comparability - discussion paper

July 2013

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision today released a Discussion Paper to initiate discussion on the topic of balancing risk sensitivity, simplicity and comparability within the Basel capital standards. The Basel Committee, in response to the financial crisis that began in 2007, introduced a number of reforms to substantially raise the resilience of the financial system to shocks. While some of these measures strengthen the bank capital adequacy framework itself, others are designed to complement it in ensuring the soundness of banks. These measures include the introduction of a leverage ratio, an additional capital surcharge for global systemically important banks (G-SIBs), a proposed framework for measuring and controlling large exposures, and minimum liquidity and funding standards. The Committee has also introduced a comprehensive regulatory consistency assessment programme with a view to ensuring consistent implementation of Basel III across banks and jurisdictions.

In addition to these reforms, during 2012 the Committee commissioned a small group of its members (the Task Force on Simplicity and Comparability) to undertake a review of the Basel capital framework. The goal of the Task Force was to identify opportunities to remove undue complexity within the framework, and improve the comparability of its outcomes. The creation of the Task Force acknowledged that the framework has steadily grown over time as risk coverage has been expanded and more sophisticated risk measurement methodologies have been introduced.

The paper being released today discusses the reasons behind the evolution of the current framework, and outlines the potential benefits and costs that arise from a more risk sensitive methodology. The paper also discusses ideas that could possibly be explored to further reform the framework with the objective that it continues to strike an appropriate balance between the complementary goals of risk sensitivity, simplicity and comparability.

The purpose of the discussion paper is to seek views on this critical issue so as to help shape the Committee's thinking. At this stage, the Committee has not made a decision to pursue any of the ideas presented; the paper is being published to elicit comments and feedback from interested stakeholders, which will help the Committee refine its thinking in this area. Furthermore, the Committee remains firmly of the view that full, timely and consistent implementation of Basel III remains fundamental to building a resilient financial system, maintaining public confidence in regulatory ratios and providing a level playing field for internationally active banks. Adopting the Basel III reforms (higher and better quality capital, improved risk coverage, capital buffers, and liquidity and funding requirements) in accordance with the internationally-agreed transition period deadlines is itself an important step in improving the consistency of bank regulation globally.

Mr Stefan Ingves, Chairman of the Basel Committee and Governor, Sveriges Riksbank said: "The Committee is keenly aware of the current debate concerning the complexity of the current regulatory framework. For that reason, the Committee set up a Task Force last year to look at this issue in some depth. The Committee believes that it would benefit from further input on this critical issue before deciding on the merits of any specific changes to the current framework. The paper being released today is designed to encourage discussion amongst, and solicit views from, a broad set of stakeholders."

The Committee welcomes views on the issues outlined in this paper. Comments should be submitted by Friday 11 October 2013 by e-mail to baselcommittee@bis.org. Alternatively, comments may be sent by post to: Secretariat of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, Bank for International Settlements, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland. All comments may be published on the website of the Bank for International Settlements unless a respondent explicitly requests confidential treatment.