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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bank regulations are a form of government regulation which subject banks to certain requirements, restrictions and guidelines.


Objectives of bank regulation

The objectives of bank regulation, and the emphasis, vary between jurisdictions. The most common objectives are:

  1. Prudential -- to reduce the level of risk bank creditors are exposed to (i.e. to protect depositors)
  2. Systemic risk reduction -- to reduce the risk of disruption resulting from adverse trading conditions for banks causing multiple or major bank failures
  3. Avoid misuse of banks -- to reduce the risk of banks being used for criminal purposes, e.g. laundering the proceeds of crime
  4. To protect banking confidentiality
  5. Credit allocation -- to direct credit to favored sectors

General principles of bank regulation

Banking regulations can vary widely across nations and jurisdictions. This section of the article describes general principles of bank regulation throughout the world.


Minimum requirements

Requirements are imposed on banks in order to promote the objectives of the regulator. The most important minimum requirement in banking regulation is maintaining minimum capital ratios.

Supervisory review

Banks are required to be issued with a bank license by the regulator in order to carry on business as a bank, and the regulator supervises licenced banks for compliance with the requirements and responds to breaches of the requirements through obtaining undertakings, giving directions, imposing penalties or revoking the bank's licence.

Market discipline

The regulator requires banks to publicly disclose financial and other information, and depositors and other creditors are able to use this information to assess the level of risk and to make investment decisions. As a result of this, the bank is subject to market discipline and the regulator can also use market pricing information as an indicator of the bank's financial health.

Instruments and requirements of bank regulation

Capital requirement

The capital requirement sets a framework on how banks must handle their capital in relation to their assets. Internationally, the Bank for International Settlements' Basel Committee on Banking Supervision influences each country's capital requirements. In 1988, the Committee decided to introduce a capital measurement system commonly referred to as the Basel Capital Accords. The latest capital adequacy framework is commonly known as Basel II. This updated framework is intended to be more risk sensitive than the original one, but is also a lot more complex.

Reserve requirement

The reserve requirement sets the minimum reserves each bank must hold to demand deposits and banknotes. This type of regulation has lost the role it once had, as the emphasis has moved toward capital adequacy, and in many countries there is no minimum reserve ratio. The purpose of minimum reserve ratios is liquidity rather than safety. An example of a country with a contemporary minimum reserve ratio is Hong Kong, where banks are required to maintain 25% of their liabilities that are due on demand or within 1 month as qualifying liquefiable assets.

Reserve requirements have also been used in the past to control the stock of banknotes and/or bank deposits. Required reserves have at times been gold coin, central bank banknotes or deposits, and foreign currency.

Corporate governance

Corporate governance requirements are intended to encourage the bank to be well managed, and is an indirect way of achieving other objectives. Requirements may include:

  1. To be a body corporate (i.e. not an individual, a partnership, trust or other unincorporated entity)
  2. To be incorporated locally, and/or to be incorporated under as a particular type of body corporate, rather than being incorporated in a foreign jurisdiction.
  3. To have a minimum number of directors
  4. To have an organisational structure that includes various offices and officers, e.g. corporate secretary, treasurer/CFO, auditor, Asset Liability Management Committee, Privacy Officer etc. Also the officers for those offices may need to be approved persons, or from an approved class of persons.
  5. To have a constitution or articles of association that is approved, or contains or does not contain particular clauses, e.g. clauses that enable directors to act other than in the best interests of the company (e.g. in the interests of a parent company) may not be allowed.

Financial reporting and disclosure requirements

Banks may be required to:

  1. Prepare annual financial statements according to a financial reporting standard, have them audited, and to register or publish them
  2. Prepare more frequent financial disclosures, e.g. Quarterly Disclosure Statements
  3. Have directors of the bank attest to the accuracy of such financial disclosures
  4. Prepare and have registered prospectuses detailing the terms of securities it issues (e.g. deposits), and the relevant facts that will enable investors to better assess the level and type of financial risks in investing in those securities.

Credit rating requirement

Banks may be required to obtain and maintain a current credit rating from an approved credit rating agency, and to disclose it to investors and prospective investors. Also, banks may be required to maintain a minimum credit rating.

Large exposures restrictions

Banks may be restricted from having imprudently large exposures to individual counterparties or groups of connected counterparties. This may be expressed as a proportion of the bank's assets or equity, and different limits may apply depending on the security held and/or the credit rating of the counterparty.

Related party exposure restrictions

Banks may be restricted from incurring exposures to related parties such as the bank's parent company or directors. Typically the restrictions may include:

  • Exposures to related parties must be in the normal course of business and on normal terms and conditions
  • Exposures to related parties must be in the best interests of the bank
  • Exposures to related parties must be not more than limited amounts or proportions of the bank's assets or equity.

Activity and affiliation restrictions

Payments systems requirements

By country

See also

External links

Reserve requirements

Capital requirements

Agenda from ISO

Various Countries



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