Are the banks conducting thorough credit assessments when customers apply for consumer credit? Are smaller banks and payment service firms taking sufficient measures to prevent money laundering? What risks will the coronavirus pandemic pose in the future? These are three areas that Finansinspektionen (FI) will look more closely at in 2021.
In light of the economic uncertainty caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, FI expects banks, including credit institutions and other financial firms such as insurance companies, to be restrictive with dividends and share buybacks until 30 September 2021. During this period, total dividends from and buybacks by the banks should not exceed 25 per cent of their aggregate net earnings for the two financial years 2019–2020.
An increase in the spread of the coronavirus will dampen the recovery in European economies and, in the long run, this could impact financial stability, writes Finansinspektionen (FI) in this year’s second stability report, which will be published today.
As the crisis unrolled this past spring in full force, it required fast and extraordinary measures. For example, FI lowered the countercyclical buffer requirement for the banks and encouraged them at the same time to postpone their dividend payments until the situation had become clearer. During the autumn, FI repeated its message to the banks to not make any dividend payments in 2020.
Despite positive signals, there is still considerable uncertainty about how the coronavirus pandemic will develop in the next few months in both Sweden and the rest of the world. To ensure the banks’ resilience in a situation that continues to be uncertain, the banks should suspend the payment of dividends to shareholders in 2020. This was the message from Finansinspektionen’s Director General Erik Thedéen at Fastighetsdagen today.
Governments, central banks, and authorities around the world have taken powerful measures to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. These measures also helped dampen uncertainty on the financial markets. By utilising available buffers and continuing to lend to firms and households, the financial sector can dampen the impact of the crisis. It is also important to remember that the economic crisis is not over, and uncertainty is therefore high, notes Finansinspektionen (FI) in its first stability report of the year.
Banks will have the possibility of offering all new and existing mortgagors an exemption from the amortisation requirements due to the spread of the coronavirus and its effects on the Swedish economy. The exemption will be in force until the end of June 2021. This enables Finansinspektionen to provide all mortgagors with greater manoeuvrability in these uncertain times.
The spread of the coronavirus has created immediate challenges for society and caused economic disruptions throughout Sweden and the global economy. The forecasts for the Swedish economy are rapidly deteriorating. Therefore, it is important the we safeguard a stable supply of credit to households and firms and maintain good resilience in the system. Banks and credit market companies play a crucial role in this respect.
Due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), many households and firms may be exposed to economic stress. Even if the crisis is expected to be temporary, its effects can be far-reaching. Banks and borrowers may agree to reduce or suspend amortisation payments temporarily given special grounds. FI considers the loss of income linked to COVID-19 to qualify as special grounds.
Given the current circumstances, FI would like to clarify that it will temporarily allow banks to fall below the liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) for individual currencies and total currencies.