Strategic planning has always been an important function of the board of directors, but it takes on an even more critical role when under the regulatory microscope. The OCC announced that, for the remainder of 2016, it will continue to focus on strategic risk, as banks change their business models to adapt to innovative products and services.
Negative interest rates are a confusing topic and they may be heading to the U.S. this year. Many Americans ask what they mean and why this is all happening. Since 2014, leading European central banks have initiated 'negative interest' policies as an economic stimulus measure by means of large government-issued or sovereign bond activities. Negative rates begin where major buyers of low-risk government bonds agree to accept a return less than their original investment when the bonds mature. Since Government bond rates are the bellwether for corporate bond rates, these once-improbable 'negative interest' bonds soon become a major influence in major bank bond portfolios. The Federal Reserve and U.S. banks are now looking at them.
While financial market observers in the US remain focused on the timing and magnitude of the Fed raising target interest rates over the months ahead, European bond markets have begun to experience just the opposite - the never-before-seen phenomenon of actual negative bond market interest rates. Since the Global Crisis of 2008, which saw both the Fed and foreign central bankers seeking both to calm markets and to encourage growth by reducing rates to the 'zero bound,' interest rates for bellwether German bonds and across Europe in late 2014 crossed into negative territory, and for the first time in world history.
Many banks need to add new board members because some are reaching a mandatory retirement age or because others who agreed to stay through the financial crisis now want to rotate off the board. Banks need to keep in mind that they will be under close scrutiny by any prospective candidate who will be conducting due diligence on the bank at the same time the bank is conducting due diligence on the candidate. In order to ensure your bank can attract top candidates for board positions, consider the following before beginning the recruiting process:
In and during the period 2000 through approximately mid 2008, for many of the nation's "subprime" households to receive loans and for many major financial institutions to loan out available funds at high rates, create "new" mortgage products, sell these newly created products downstream to investors (both institutional and individual investors) at a significant profit, investments banks and commercial banks created an unusual national scenario – subprime mortgages that were packaged and sold into mortgage backed securities
Directors in community banks are usually picked for two reasons: their expertise and their ability to bring business into the bank. Upon taking their places at the board tables, however, directors immediately learn that while bringing business into their bank is a laudable goal, they also have to ensure that their bank operates in a safe and sound manner. Directors, thus, walk a fine line between these two goals.
Strategic risk is currently a focus of regulatory scrutiny and the board of directors should understand what it is and how to manage it. Strategic risk is the risk to a bank's earnings and capital from making poor business decisions, from not implementing business decisions properly, or from failing to respond to industry changes.
Virtually everyone and every business has a relationship with a financial institution, whether it be a bank, savings bank, or credit union. When the account is opened, there is the hope that nothing will go wrong in the account and that your funds will be preserved.