Credit risk is the risk of a counterparty or debtor failing to fulfil its contractual obligations and the risk that pledged collateral does not cover claims. The Group’s credit risks are attributable to the credit portfolio, investments and derivative instruments.
The Group’s credit exposure primarily comprises credit risks that arise in connection with credit lending and entail the risk of incurring a loss due to borrowers’ failure to meet their payment obligations for various reasons. Credit risk exposure also includes risks related to the concentration of the credit portfolio. Concentration risks are measured based on the level of exposure to individual counterparties/customers, industries and regions.
Credit risks in the credit portfolio
The Group is exposed to credit risks in the credit portfolio. Credit risks in the credit portfolio include the risk of borrowers failing to meet their payment obligations. Responsible credit lending is a prerequisite for well-functioning banking operations. The Group’s credit lending is characterised by ambitious objectives and goals in terms of ethics, quality and control. Credit risks are to identify and assess borrowers’ payment capacity before credits are granted. An internally developed risk classification tool is in place to assist with credit lending.
The borrower’s anticipated repayment capacity is the crucial credit assessment component in every credit lending decision. The Group follows a policy, adopted by the Board, that specifies the framework for the operations’ credit strategy, credit risk management, credit risk reporting and credit rules to be applied in credit assessment. It is in the Group’s interest that the Group’s credit lending does not entail that the borrower takes unnecessary risk. Borrowers’ short and long-term repayment capacity is determined based on their financial situation and resilience.
The Group endeavours to ensure a highly diversified credit portfolio with pricing based on risk exposure through a broad base of customers with relatively low exposure amounts per customer.
To maintain a highly diversified credit portfolio with a balanced risk profile and to strike a favourable balance between risk and return, the Group works actively on understanding borrowers’ prerequisites and macroeconomic changes that could potentially impact the risk profile. The Group continuously monitors borrowers’ repayment capacity. Risks are proactively managed by performing continuous analyses of the credit portfolio to ascertain whether it will be impacted by future macroeconomic changes. These analyses are used, for example, as supporting material for governance and management of the Group’s banking operations.
Credit risks in investments
Credit risks in investments arise in the banking operations’ liquidity portfolio that partly comprises a liquidity reserve that is to serve as a separate reserve for high quality liquid assets, and partly other liquidity that is not related to the liquidity reserve. The liquidity portfolio comprises bank balances and investments in interest-bearing securities. In the insurance operations, credit risks arise in the investment portfolio that comprises bank balances and investments in interest-bearing securities and investments in equities. To reduce credit risks in investments, the Group follows the established policies of each Group company which regulate, among other things, the type of investment and the limits applicable to each individual counterparty.
Credit risk exposure in financial instruments is named counterparty risk and refers to the risk that the counterparty will be unable to fulfil its contractual obligations or will choose not to fulfil its obligations in the future pursuant to the same or similar conditions. Since a large share of the banking operations’ liabilities are in SEK and significant assets are denominated in NOK, EUR and DKK, counterparty risks arise when the Group hedges its currency exposures. The banking operations manage counterparty risk by signing agreements on derivative instruments with several different financial counterparties. Trading in derivative instruments in the banking operations is governed by ISDAs and the collateral by CSA agreements. Derivative instruments can be used in the insurance operations to manage risks in the investment portfolio. Derivative instruments in the insurance operations are used to a minor extent and trading is governed by ISDAs.