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Risk Adjusted Loan Pricing-From Profit to Profitability

By: Tom Hannagan

Part 1

In my last post about risk-based pricing, we started a discussion of the major elements involved in the risk adjustment of loan pricing. We got down to a risk-adjusted pre-tax profit amount. Not to divert the present discussion too much, but we often use pre-tax performance numbers for entity level comparisons to avoid the vagaries of tax treatments. Some banks are sub-S corporations, while most are C corporations. There are differences in state tax levels and, there may be other tax deferral strategies such as, leasing activity and/or securities adjustments that can affect these after-tax numbers. So, pre-tax data can be very useful.

After-tax profit and profitability ratios
For internal comparisons across loans, client, lenders and other lines of business; and to better understand how the risk-adjusted profit from a loan or a relationship relate to overall bank performance, we prefer to get to an after-tax profit and profitability ratio. This is also necessary to compare loans or portfolios involving tax-exempt entities to loans with taxable interest income. To do this, we apply the bank’s average effective income tax rate (including federal and state) to the pre-tax result, with the exception of tax exempt loans. This gives us risk-adjusted net income (or profit) at the loan level.

By arriving at risk-based profit estimates at the product level, we then have the opportunity to accumulate these for multi-product client relationships, or at lender or market segment levels. Clients can then go on to analyze the profit results in comparison to their distribution of risk ratings and break the risk-adjusted returns down by loan/collateral type, client geography or industry. Some banks have graphical displays of these results.

In addition to profit level, and to assist with comparative capability, we continue to one or more profitability ratios. You can divide the profit amount by the average loan balance to get a risk-adjusted return on assets (ROA).

ROA =        Profit amount
Average loan balance

This is very helpful for looking at asset product performance and has been used historically by the banking industry for risk-based pricing. Many banks have moved beyond ROA and now focus on return on equity (ROE). For a more comprehensive discussion of ROA and ROE see my post from December 6, 2008.

I will continue in my next post about Return on Equity.