Risk adjusted loan pricing – Solving for optimum return

January 20, 2009 by Guest Contributor

By: Tom Hannagan

Part 1

Risk-based pricing starts as a product-level reflection of a bank’s financial and risk characteristics. In my last few posts we have covered the key parts of how risk-based loan pricing works. In doing so, we have discussed how the key foundation elements involved in risk-adjusted loan pricing can (and should) relate to the bank’s accounting results and strategic policies:

    • Loan balance, rate and fee data relates to the bank’s actual general ledger amounts;
    • The administrative costs are also derived from actual non-interest expenses;
    • The cost of funds is aligned with the policies used in the ALCO operation and in the IRR management processes;
    • The statistical cost of credit risk used in pricing (providing sensitivity to the loan’s risk rating) is derived partially from the bank’s credit and provisioning policies;
    • The taxes are the bank’s actual average experience; and
    • For banks using ROE/RAROC, the equity allocation is related to the bank’s overall (unexpected) risk posture and its capital sufficiency policies.

Once a bank understands risk-adjusted pricing and can calculate the risk-adjusted return (ROA or ROE/RAROC) for a given loan, what more can we do to help the lender close the deal? And, what can we do to help lenders assist the bank with meeting profit goals? The answer to both questions is: “quite a lot”. First, bank management and lending executives can set various risk-based goals or guidelines that are based on the same data and foundation logic that was used to create the risk-based profit calculations. This analytical form of targeting helps take the profit (and therefore pricing) process out of the realm of “blue sky” numbers or simply wishful thinking on the part of management. The risk-based targeting guidelines benefit from the same analytical processes that went into the logic behind creating the profit calculations. The targets should be as well-founded as the analysis that went into the profit calculations.

Then the fun begins.
First at the loan level: Once we have the ability to calculate risk-adjusted loan profit and we have similarly founded targets or guidelines, we can easily use the profit calculations in reverse to solve for a required loan rate and/or origination fee that will meet the target profit. The lender can change a structural aspect of the loan under consideration and quickly see the impact on risk-adjusted profit. More importantly, they can see how these changes relate to the guidelines or target.

In fact, the lender could look at any number of changes to the loan amount, tenor, amortization rate, moving the risk rating up or down, and changing the rate from fixed to floating impact to see what relative impact the change has on risk-adjusted profit. Because knowledge is one key to successful negotiation, the lender is in a substantially stronger position to conduct the sales and negotiation phases of landing the deal. There is a substantially higher likelihood the resulting loan will be a better risk-adjusted return for the bank than would take place by ignoring such pricing practices. Add up all of the loan and lines done in the course of a year and you see a significant impact on the bank’s overall performance.

In my next post, I’ll expand this concept to the relationship management level.