[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 96 (Thursday, May 17, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 29458-29472]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-11989]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

[Docket No. OCC-2012-0004]

FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM

[Docket No. OP-1421]

FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION


Supervisory Guidance on Stress Testing for Banking Organizations 
With More Than $10 Billion in Total Consolidated Assets

AGENCY: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (``Board'' or 
``Federal Reserve''); Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (``FDIC''); 
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Treasury (``OCC'').

ACTION: Final supervisory guidance.

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SUMMARY: The Board, FDIC and OCC, (collectively, the ``agencies'') are 
issuing this guidance, which outlines high-level principles for stress 
testing practices, applicable to all Federal Reserve-supervised, FDIC-
supervised, and OCC-supervised banking organizations with more than $10 
billion in total consolidated assets. The guidance highlights the 
importance of stress testing as an ongoing risk management practice 
that supports a banking organization's forward-looking assessment of 
its risks and better equips the organization to address a range of 
adverse outcomes.

DATES: This guidance will become effective on July 23, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 
    Board: Constance M. Horsley, Manager, Capital and Regulatory Policy 
(202) 452-5239, David Palmer, Senior Supervisory Analyst, Risk Section, 
(202) 452-2904, or Sean Healey, Financial Analyst, Capital and 
Regulatory Policy, (202) 912-4611, Division of Banking Supervision and 
Regulation; or Benjamin W. McDonough, Senior Counsel, (202) 452-2036, 
Christine E. Graham, Senior Attorney, (202) 452-3005, or Dominic A. 
Labitzky, Senior Attorney, (202) 452-3428, Legal Division, Board of 
Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th and C Streets NW., 
Washington, DC 20551.
    FDIC: George French, Deputy Director, Policy, (202) 898-3929; 
Robert Burns, Associate Director, Division of Risk Management 
Supervision, (202) 898-3905; Karl Reitz, Senior Capital Markets 
Specialist, (202) 898-6775, Division of Risk Management Supervision; or 
Mark Flanigan, Counsel,

[[Page 29459]]

(202) 898-7426; Ryan Clougherty, Senior Attorney, (202) 898-3843, 
Supervision Branch, Legal Division, Federal Deposit Insurance 
Corporation, 550 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20429.
    OCC: Darrin Benhart, Deputy Comptroller, Credit and Market Risk, 
(202) 874 1711, Robert Scavotto, Lead International Expert, 
International Analysis and Banking Condition (202) 874-4943, Tanya 
Smith, NBE, Lead Expert for Regulatory Capital and Operational Risk, 
Large Bank Supervision (202) 874-4464, Akhtarur Siddique, Deputy 
Director, Enterprise Risk Analysis Division (202) 874-4665, or 
Alexandra Arney, Attorney, Legislative and Regulatory Activities 
Division (202) 874-6104, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, 250 
E Street SW., Washington, DC 20219.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    On June 15, 2011, the agencies requested public comment on joint 
proposed guidance on the use of stress testing as an ongoing risk 
management practice by banking organizations with more than $10 billion 
in total consolidated assets (the proposed guidance).\1\ The public 
comment period on the proposed guidance closed on July 29, 2011. The 
agencies are adopting the guidance in final form with certain 
modifications that are discussed below (the final guidance). As 
described below, this guidance does not apply to banking organizations 
with consolidated assets of $10 billion or less.
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    \1\ See 76 FR 35072 (June 15, 2011).
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    All banking organizations should have the capacity to understand 
their risks and the potential impact of stressful events and 
circumstances on their financial condition.\2\ The agencies have 
previously highlighted the use of stress testing as a means to better 
understand the range of a banking organization's potential risk 
exposures.\3\ The 2007-2009 financial crisis further underscored the 
need for banking organizations to incorporate stress testing into their 
risk management, as banking organizations unprepared for stressful 
events and circumstances can suffer acute threats to their financial 
condition and viability.\4\ The final guidance is intended to be 
consistent with sound industry practices and with international 
supervisory standards.\5\
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    \2\ For purposes of this guidance, the term ``banking 
organization'' means national banks, federal savings associations, 
and federal branches and agencies supervised by the OCC; state 
member banks, bank holding companies, savings and loan holding 
companies, and all other institutions for which the Federal Reserve 
is the primary federal supervisor; and state nonmember banks, and 
all other institutions for which the FDIC is the primary federal 
supervisor.
    \3\ See, e.g., Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 10-6, OCC 
Bulletin 2010-13 or FDIC Financial Institution Letter (FIL) 13-2010, 
Interagency Policy Statement on Funding and Liquidity Risk 
Management (March 17, 2010), available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/2010/sr1006.htm; 
Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 10-1, OCC Bulletin 2010-1 or 
FDIC FIL-2-2010, Interagency Advisory on Interest Rate Risk (January 
11, 2010), available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/2010/sr1001.htm; Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 09-
4, Applying Supervisory Guidance and Regulations on the Payment of 
Dividends, Stock Redemptions, and Stock Repurchases at Bank Holding 
Companies (revised March 27, 2009), available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/2009/SR0904.htm; 
Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 07-1, OCC Bulletin 2006-46 or 
FDIC FIL-104-2006, Interagency Guidance on Concentrations in 
Commercial Real Estate (January 4, 2007), available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/2007/SR0701.htm; 
Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 01-4, OCC Bulletin 2001-6 or 
FDIC FIL-9-2001, Subprime Lending (January 31, 2001), available at 
http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/2001/SR0104.htm; 
Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 99-18, Assessing Capital 
Adequacy in Relation to Risk at Large Banking Organizations and 
Others with Complex Risk Profiles (July 1, 1999), available at 
http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/1999/SR9918; 
Supervisory Guidance: Supervisory Review Process of Capital Adequacy 
(Pillar 2) Related to the Implementation of the Basel II Advanced 
Capital Framework, 73 FR 44620 (July 31, 2008); The Supervisory 
Capital Assessment Program: Overview of Results (May 7, 2009), 
available at  http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/bcreg/bcreg20090507a1.pdf; Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review: 
Objectives and Overview (March 18, 2011), available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/bcreg/bcreg20110318a1.pdf; 
and 12 CFR 225.8.
    \4\ The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection 
Act (Pub. L. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376) requires financial 
organizations with more than $10 billion in total consolidated 
assets to conduct a stress test at least annually. See generally 12 
U.S.C. 5365(i)(2).
    \5\ See Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, Principles for 
Sound Stress Testing Practices and Supervision (May 2009), available 
at http://www.bis.org/publ/bcbs155.pdf.
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    Building upon previously issued supervisory guidance that discusses 
the uses and merits of stress testing in specific areas of risk 
management, the final guidance provides principles that a banking 
organization should follow when conducting its stress testing 
activities. The guidance outlines broad principles for a satisfactory 
stress testing framework and describes the manner in which stress 
testing should be employed as an integral component of risk management 
that is applicable at various levels of aggregation within a banking 
organization and that contributes to capital and liquidity planning. 
While the guidance is not intended to provide detailed instructions for 
conducting stress testing for any particular risk or business area, the 
guidance describes several types of stress testing activities and how 
they may be most appropriately used by banking organizations subject to 
this guidance.
    The final guidance does not implement the stress testing 
requirements imposed by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer 
Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) on financial companies regulated by the 
OCC, FDIC, or Board with total consolidated assets of more than $10 
billion or by the Board's capital plan rule on U.S. bank holding 
companies with total consolidated assets equal to or greater than $50 
billion.\6\ The Dodd-Frank Act's stress testing requirements are being 
implemented through separate notices of proposed rulemaking by the 
respective agencies.\7\ The Board issued the final capital plan rule on 
November 22, 2011. In light of these recent rulemaking efforts on 
stress testing, the guidance provides banking organizations with 
principles for conducting their stress testing activities to, among 
other things, ensure that those activities are adequately integrated 
into overall risk management.\8\ The agencies expect such companies 
would follow the principles set forth in the guidance--as well as other 
relevant supervisory guidance--when conducting stress testing in 
accordance with statutory or regulatory requirements.\9\
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    \6\ See 12 CFR 225.8.
    \7\ See Enhanced Prudential Standards and Early Remediation 
Requirements for Covered Companies, 77 FR 594 (Jan. 5, 2012) 
(Board); Annual Stress Test, 77 FR 3408 (Jan. 24, 2012) (OCC); 
Annual Stress Test, 77 FR 3166 (Jan. 23, 2012) (FDIC).
    \8\ As described below, the agencies believe that $10 billion is 
the appropriate threshold based on the general complexity of firms 
above this size.
    \9\ To the extent that the guidance conflicts with the 
requirements imposed with respect to any future statutory or 
regulatory stress test, banking organizations must comply with the 
requirements set forth in the relevant statute or regulation.
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II. Discussion of Comments on the Proposed Guidance

    The agencies received 17 comment letters on the proposed guidance. 
Commenters included financial trade associations, bank holding 
companies, financial advisory firms, and individuals. Commenters 
generally expressed support for the proposed guidance. However, several 
commenters recommended changes to, or clarification of, certain 
provisions of the proposed guidance, as discussed below. In response to 
these comments, the agencies have clarified the principles set forth in 
the guidance and modified the proposed guidance in certain respects as 
described in this section.

[[Page 29460]]

A. Scope of Application

    The proposed guidance would have applied to all banking 
organizations supervised by the agencies with more than $10 billion in 
total consolidated assets. Specifically, with respect to the OCC, these 
banking organizations would have included national banking associations 
and federal branches and agencies; with respect to the Board, these 
banking organizations would have included state member banks, bank 
holding companies, and all other institutions for which the Board is 
the primary federal supervisor; with respect to the FDIC, these banking 
organizations would have included state nonmember banks and all other 
institutions for which the FDIC is the primary federal supervisor. The 
proposed guidance indicated that a banking organization should develop 
and implement its stress testing framework in a manner commensurate 
with its size, complexity, business activities, and overall risk 
profile.
    Some commenters supported the total consolidated asset threshold 
(i.e., more than $10 billion), but others noted the importance and 
value of stress testing for smaller banking organizations. Consistent 
with the proposed guidance, no supervised banking organization with $10 
billion or less in total consolidated assets is subject to this final 
guidance. The agencies believe that $10 billion is the appropriate 
threshold for the guidance based on the general complexity of firms 
above this size. However, the agencies note that previously issued 
supervisory guidance applicable to all supervised institutions 
discusses the use of stress testing as a tool in certain aspects of 
risk management--such as for commercial real estate concentrations, 
liquidity risk management, and interest-rate risk management. The 
agencies received two comments suggesting that the $10 billion total 
consolidated asset threshold be measured over a four-quarter period in 
order to minimize the likelihood that temporary asset fluctuations 
would trigger application of the guidance. The agencies do not 
establish an asset calculation methodology in the final guidance; 
however, banking organizations with assets near the threshold should 
use reasonable judgment and consider, in conjunction with their primary 
federal supervisor as appropriate, whether they should consider 
preparing to follow the guidance.
    Three commenters expressed concern that foreign banking 
organizations (FBOs) are required to follow stress testing guidelines 
established by their home country supervisors and suggested that the 
agencies give consideration to those requirements. When developing the 
guidance, the agencies sought to ensure that it would not introduce 
inconsistencies with internationally agreed supervisory standards. The 
agencies recognize that an FBO's U.S. operations are part of the FBO's 
global enterprise subject to requirements of its home country. The 
agencies provided sufficient flexibility in the proposed guidance so 
that the guidance could apply to various types of organizations. In 
this final guidance, the agencies clarify that certain aspects of the 
guidance may not apply to U.S. branches and agencies of FBOs (such as 
the portions related to capital stress testing) or may apply 
differently (such as portions related to governance and controls). 
Supervisors will take these issues into consideration when evaluating 
the ability of U.S. offices of FBOs to meet the principles in the 
guidance.
    Two commenters expressed concern regarding the application of the 
proposed guidance to savings and loan holding companies (SLHCs). They 
suggested that the Board issue separate guidance for SLHCs, as these 
institutions would face a different set of stress testing assumptions 
and scenarios than banking organizations. The Board believes that the 
guidance is instructive to SLHCs to the same degree it is for bank 
holding companies. The Federal Reserve became the primary federal 
supervisor for SLHCs on July 21, 2011, after the agencies published the 
proposed guidance for public comment but before the end of the comment 
period. While the Board recognizes that certain differences do exist 
between bank holding companies and SLHCs, the Board believes the 
guidance contains flexibility adequate to accommodate the variations in 
size, complexity, business activities, and overall risk profile of all 
banking organizations that meet the asset threshold. Thus, the guidance 
anticipates that each banking organization, including each SLHC, would 
implement stress testing in a manner consistent with its own business 
and risk profile.\10\
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    \10\ See Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 11-11, Supervision 
of Savings and Loan Holding Companies (SLHCs) (July 21, 2011), 
available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/bankinforeg/srletters/sr1111.pdf.
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    Similarly, one commenter advocated that the OCC propose separate 
guidance on stress testing specifically tailored to savings 
associations. The OCC became the primary federal supervisor for federal 
savings associations on July 21, 2011. While the OCC recognizes that 
certain differences do exist between national banks and federal savings 
associations, the OCC notes that the final guidance contains 
flexibility adequate to accommodate the variations in size, complexity, 
business activities, and overall risk profile of all banking 
organizations that meet the asset threshold. Thus, it is also expected 
that each federal savings association would implement the guidance 
consistent with its own business and risk profile.
    Several commenters requested clarification on the linkage between 
the stress testing guidance and the stress testing requirements in the 
Dodd-Frank Act. In devising the guidance, the agencies endeavored to 
ensure that the proposed and final guidance is consistent with the 
stress testing requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act and believe that 
the principles set forth in the final guidance are useful when 
conducting the stress tests required under the Act. Notably, the final 
guidance was framed broadly to inform a banking organization's use of 
stress testing in overall risk management, not just stress tests 
required under the Dodd-Frank Act. Dodd-Frank stress tests would 
generally be considered part of an organization's overall stress 
testing framework as described in the stress testing guidance.\11\
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    \11\ See supra note 8.
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B. Stress Testing Principles

    As noted above, the proposed guidance identified and included a 
discussion of four key principles for a banking organization's stress 
testing framework and related stress test results, namely that: (1) A 
banking organization's stress testing framework should include 
activities and exercises that are tailored to and sufficiently capture 
the banking organization's exposures, activities, and risks; (2) an 
effective stress testing framework employs multiple conceptually sound 
stress testing activities and approaches; (3) an effective stress 
testing framework is forward-looking and flexible; and (4) stress test 
results should be clear, actionable, well supported, and inform 
decision-making. In the final guidance, the agencies have incorporated 
a fifth principle specifying that an organization's stress testing 
framework should include strong governance and effective internal 
controls. The elements of the fifth principle had been set forth in 
section VI of the proposed guidance, and the fifth principle does not 
expand on this aspect of the proposed guidance. Rather, the agencies 
reorganized this discussion into a fifth principle in order to 
underscore the importance of

[[Page 29461]]

governance and controls as a key element in a banking organization's 
stress testing framework.
    As noted above, commenters were supportive of the principles-based 
approach and the notion that a banking organization's stress testing 
framework should be implemented in a manner commensurate with factors 
such as the complexity and size of the organization. With more specific 
regard to the proposed principles, commenters suggested that the final 
guidance address the standardization of stress testing through the 
inclusion of common coefficients, models, or benchmarks. These 
commenters expressed concerns that banking organizations would 
implement the principles inconsistently and that standardization would 
help regulators conduct comparative analyses across firms. Another 
commenter suggested that the agencies prescribe more detailed and 
integrated stress testing between different entities or business units 
within an organization.
    The agencies did not modify the guidance in response to these 
comments. A key aspect of the guidance is to provide organizations 
flexibility on how they design their individual stress testing 
frameworks. Thus, each banking organization should design a specific 
stress testing framework to capture risks relevant to the organization. 
The agencies believe that prescribing standardized stress tests in this 
guidance would have its own inherent limitations and may not 
appropriately cover a banking organization's material risks and 
activities.
    In addition, commenters suggested that the agencies mandate public 
release of stress testing results through the guidance. The agencies 
have considered these comments, but do not believe the final guidance 
is the appropriate place for such a requirement given its broader focus 
on banking organizations' overall stress testing frameworks. The 
agencies note, however, that banking organizations may be required to 
disclose information about their stress tests pursuant to other 
statutory, regulatory, or supervisory requirements.
    A few commenters stated that a banking organization should explain 
and justify the stress testing methodologies it utilizes to its primary 
federal supervisor. The agencies note that supervisors will examine 
firms' stress testing methodologies through the supervisory process. 
One commenter noted that the guidance should explicitly indicate that 
liabilities should be part of a banking organization's stress testing 
activities; the agencies intended that stress testing activities would 
take an organization's liabilities into account and have clarified this 
in the final guidance. Three commenters suggested that operational risk 
be specifically referenced in the guidance. In response, the agencies 
have clarified in the final guidance that operational risk should be 
among the risks considered by an organization's stress testing 
framework.
    Another commenter expressed concern that the frequency of stress 
testing and communication of results might eventually desensitize 
senior management to them. The agencies believe that regular review of 
stress test results is useful--both during periods of economic downturn 
and benign periods--and have clarified that such review can help a 
banking organization track over time the impact of ongoing business 
activities, changes in exposures, varying economic conditions, and 
market movements on its financial condition. Aside from the inclusion 
of a fifth principle as described above, the agencies have otherwise 
adopted the proposed principles in the final guidance with only minor 
additional refinements.

C. Stress Testing Approaches and Applications

    The proposed guidance described certain stress testing approaches 
and applications--scenario analysis, sensitivity analysis, enterprise-
wide testing, and reverse stress testing--that a banking organization 
could consider using within its stress testing framework, as 
appropriate. The proposed guidance provided that each banking 
organization should apply these approaches and applications 
commensurate with its size, complexity, and business profile, and may 
not need to incorporate all of the details described in the guidance.
    Some commenters questioned the appropriate number and types of 
stress test approaches an organization should utilize. The agencies do 
not believe that specifying a number or particular types of 
approaches--including the number of scenarios--is appropriate in the 
guidance given the wide range of stress testing activities that 
different banking organizations may undertake. A banking organization 
should choose the approaches that appropriately consider the unique 
characteristics of that particular organization and the relevant risks 
it faces. The agencies expect that stress testing methodologies will 
evolve over time as banking organizations develop approaches that best 
capture their individual risk profiles.
    In addition, the proposed guidance described reverse stress testing 
as a tool that would allow a banking organization to assume a known 
adverse outcome, such as suffering a credit loss that causes it to 
breach a minimum regulatory capital ratio or suffering severe liquidity 
constraints making it unable to meet its obligations, and then deduce 
the types of events that could lead to such an outcome. This type of 
stress testing may help a banking organization to consider scenarios 
beyond its normal business expectations and see the impact of severe 
systemic effects on the banking organization. It also would allow a 
banking organization to challenge common assumptions about its 
performance and expected mitigation strategies.
    Three commenters expressed doubts regarding the effectiveness of 
reverse stress testing, as the approach could produce results of 
questionable value and captures unlikely, ``extreme'' scenarios. The 
agencies reiterate the value of reverse stress testing, as it helps a 
banking organization evaluate the combined effect of several types of 
extreme events and circumstances that might threaten the survival of 
the banking organization, even if in isolation each of the effects 
might be manageable. Another commenter expressed concern that the 
results of severe scenarios used for reverse stress testing would 
directly lead to a supervisory requirement to raise capital if the 
results of the approach were unfavorable to the organization. In 
addition, some commenters sought clarification that results would not 
be used by regulators to criticize banking organizations.
    As stated in the proposed guidance, a given stress test result will 
not necessarily lead to immediate action by a firm, and in some cases 
stress test results--including those from reverse stress tests--are 
most useful for the additional information they provide. In terms of 
supervisory responses to an organization's stress testing activities, 
the agencies expect to consider a banking organization's stress test 
results and the appropriateness of its overall stress testing 
framework, along with all other relevant information, in assessing a 
banking organization's risk management practices, as well as its 
capital and liquidity adequacy. The guidance sets forth supervisory 
expectations for prudent risk management practices and a firm's 
decision not to follow the principles in this guidance will be examined 
as part of the supervisory process and may be cited as evidence of 
unsafe and unsound practices.

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D. Stress Testing For Assessing Adequacy of Capital and Liquidity

    Given the importance of capital and liquidity to a banking 
organization's viability, stress testing should be applied to these two 
areas on a regular basis. Stress testing for capital and liquidity 
adequacy should be conducted in coordination with a banking 
organization's overall business strategy and annual planning cycles. 
Results should be refreshed in the event of major strategic decisions, 
or other changes that can materially impact capital or liquidity.
    An effective stress testing framework should explore the potential 
for capital and liquidity problems to arise at the same time or 
exacerbate one another. A banking organization's liquidity stress 
analysis should explore situations in which the banking organization 
may be operating with a capital position that exceeds regulatory 
minimums, but is nonetheless viewed within the financial markets or by 
its counterparties as being of questionable viability. For its capital 
and liquidity stress tests, a banking organization should articulate 
clearly its objectives for a post-stress outcome, for instance to 
remain a viable financial market participant that is able to meet its 
existing and prospective obligations and commitments.
    In response to comments received on the planning horizon for stress 
tests, the agencies clarified that while capital stress tests should 
generally be conducted with a horizon of at least two years, 
organizations should recognize that the effects of certain stress 
conditions could extend beyond that horizon. The agencies have also 
clarified, in response to comments, that consolidated stress tests 
should account for the fact that certain legal entities within the 
consolidated organization are required to meet regulatory capital 
requirements.
    A commenter requested clarification on whether capital and 
liquidity stress testing should be evaluated in unified or separate 
stress tests. The proposed guidance did not specify the precise manner 
in which capital and liquidity stress tests should be performed. The 
final guidance notes that assessing the potential interaction of 
capital and liquidity can be challenging and may not be possible within 
a single stress test, so a banking organization should explore several 
avenues to assess that interaction. In any case, the agencies believe 
that stress testing for both liquidity and capital adequacy should be 
an integral part of a banking organization's stress testing framework.

E. Governance and Controls

    As noted under the new fifth principle of the final guidance, a 
banking organization's stress testing framework will be effective only 
if it is subject to strong governance and controls to ensure that the 
framework functions as intended. Strong governance and controls also 
help ensure that the framework contains core elements, from clearly 
defined stress testing objectives to recommended actions. Importantly, 
strong governance provides critical review of elements of the stress 
testing framework, especially regarding key assumptions, uncertainties, 
and limitations. A banking organization should ensure that the stress 
testing framework is not isolated within a banking organization's risk 
management function, but is firmly integrated into business lines, 
capital and asset-liability committees, and other decision-making 
bodies.
    As part of their overall responsibilities, a banking organization's 
board and senior management should establish a comprehensive, 
integrated and effective stress testing framework that fits into the 
broader risk management of the banking organization. Stress testing 
results should be used to inform the board about alignment of the 
banking organization's risk profile with the board's chosen risk 
appetite, as well as inform operating and strategic decisions. Stress 
testing results should be considered directly by the board and senior 
management for decisions relating to capital and liquidity adequacy. 
Senior management, in consultation with the board, should ensure that 
the stress testing framework includes a sufficient range of stress 
testing activities applied at the appropriate levels of the banking 
organization (i.e., not just one enterprise-wide stress test).
    Several commenters raised concerns regarding the proposed 
responsibilities of a banking organization's board of directors with 
respect to stress tests and the framework. One commenter believed that 
the board of directors should not review all stress test results, but 
rather only those that were expected to have a material impact on the 
overall organization. Another commenter expressed the belief that the 
board of directors should be involved in providing direction and 
oversight regarding the banking organization's stress testing 
framework, but that the board of directors should not be expected to be 
involved directly in more operational aspects of the framework.
    The agencies have modified the final guidance to clarify that 
senior management, not the board of directors, should have the primary 
responsibility for stress testing implementation and technical design. 
However, the agencies emphasize that a banking organization's board of 
directors should be provided with information from senior management on 
stress testing developments (including the process to design tests and 
develop scenarios) and on stress testing results (including from 
individual tests, where material). As a general matter, the board of 
directors is also responsible for monitoring effectiveness of the 
overall framework, and using the results to inform their decision-
making process.
    In addition, the final guidance specifies that senior management 
should, in consultation with the board of directors, review stress 
testing activities and results with an appropriately critical eye to 
ensure that there is objective review and that the stress testing 
framework includes a sufficient range of stress testing activities 
applied at the appropriate levels of the banking organization. Finally, 
in response to comments, the agencies have clarified that a banking 
organization's minimum annual review and assessment of the 
effectiveness of their stress testing framework should ensure that 
stress testing coverage is comprehensive, tests are relevant and 
current, methodologies are sound, and results are properly considered.

IV. Administrative Law Matters

A. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (``PRA'') of 1995 
(44 U.S.C. 3506; 5 CFR Part 1320 Appendix A.1), the agencies reviewed 
the final guidance. The agencies may not conduct or sponsor, and an 
organization is not required to respond to, an information collection 
unless the information collection displays a currently valid OMB 
control number. While the guidance is not being adopted as a rule, the 
agencies determined that certain aspects of the guidance may constitute 
a collection of information and, therefore, believed it was helpful to 
publish a burden estimate with the guidance. In particular, the aspects 
of the guidance that may constitute an information collection are the 
provisions that state a banking organization should (i) have a stress 
testing framework that includes clearly defined objectives, well-
designed scenarios tailored to the banking organization's business and 
risks, well-documented assumptions, conceptually

[[Page 29463]]

sound methodologies to assess potential impact on the banking 
organization's financial condition, informative management reports, and 
recommended actions based on stress test results; and (ii) have 
policies and procedures for a stress testing framework. The agencies 
estimated that the above-described information collections included in 
the guidance would take respondents, on average, 260 hours each year. 
The frequency of information collection is estimated to be annual. 
Respondents are banking organizations with more than $10 billion in 
total consolidated assets, as defined in the guidance.
    The agencies received three comment letters regarding the paperwork 
burden of the guidance, stating that implementation will require a 
multiple of the 260 estimated hours. The agencies emphasize that the 
guidance does not implement the stress testing requirements imposed by 
the Dodd-Frank Act \12\ or the Board's capital plan rule,\13\ and does 
not otherwise impose mandatory stress testing requirements. The burden 
of information collections associated with mandatory stress tests will 
be accounted for in the respective rules that implement those 
requirements. In addition, the agencies believe that in some respects, 
the information collection elements of this guidance augment certain 
expectations that already are in place relative to certain existing 
supervisory guidance. The burden estimates for this guidance take into 
consideration only those collections of information, such as 
documentation of policies and procedures and relevant reports, that are 
specific to this guidance. Based on these factors, the agencies believe 
the burden estimates included in the proposed guidance continue to be 
appropriate.
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    \12\ 77 FR 594 (January 5, 2012).
    \13\ (Reg Y-13; OMB No. 7100-0342).
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    Title: Recordkeeping and Disclosure Provisions Associated with 
Stress Testing Guidance.
    Frequency of Response: Annual.
    Affected Public: Banking organizations with more than $10 billion 
in total consolidated assets.
    OCC:
    OMB Control No: To be assigned by OMB.
    Estimated Number of Respondents: 62.
    Estimated Time per Response: 260 hours.
    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 16,120 hours
    Board:
    Agency Information Collection Number: FR 4202.
    OMB Control No: To be assigned by OMB.
    Estimated Number of Respondents: 154.
    Estimated Time per Response: 260 hours.
    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 40,040 hours.
    FDIC:
    OMB Control No: To be assigned by OMB.
    Estimated Number of Respondents: 25.
    Estimated Time per Response: 260 hours.
    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 6500 hours.
    OCC: For purposes of the PRA, this information collection will be 
titled Recordkeeping and Disclosure Provisions Associated with Stress 
Testing Guidance.
    This information collection is authorized pursuant to the National 
Bank Act, (12 U.S.C. 1 et seq.; 12 U.S.C. 161) and the International 
Banking Act (12 U.S.C. 3101 et seq.). The OCC expects to review the 
policies and procedures for stress testing as part of its supervisory 
process. To the extent the OCC collects information during an 
examination of a banking organization, confidential treatment may be 
afforded to the records under exemption 8 of the Freedom of Information 
Act (``FOIA''), 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(8).
    Board: For purposes of the PRA, this information collection will be 
titled Recordkeeping and Disclosure Provisions Associated With Stress 
Testing Guidance. The agency form number for the collection is FR 4202. 
The agency control number for this new collection will be assigned by 
OMB.
    This information collection is authorized pursuant to sections 
11(a), 11(i), 25, and 25A of the Federal Reserve Act (12 U.S.C. 248(a), 
248(i), 602, and 611), section 5 of the Bank Holding Company Act (12 
U.S.C. 1844), and section 7(c) of the International Banking Act (12 
U.S.C. 3105(c)). The Board expects to review the policies and 
procedures for stress testing as part of the Board's supervisory 
process. To the extent the Board collects information during an 
examination of a banking organization, the confidentiality of any such 
information submitted to the Board will be determined in accordance 
with the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552(b)(8)) Board's Rules 
Regarding Availability of Information (12 CFR part 261).
    FDIC: For purposes of the PRA, this information collection will be 
titled Recordkeeping and Disclosure Provisions Associated With Stress 
Testing Guidance.
    This information collection is authorized pursuant to the Federal 
Deposit Insurance Act, (12 U.S.C. 1811 et seq.) and the International 
Banking Act (12 U.S.C. 3101 et seq.). The FDIC expects to review the 
policies and procedures for stress testing as part of its supervisory 
process. To the extent the FDIC collects information during an 
examination of a banking organization, confidential treatment may be 
afforded to the records under exemption 8 of the Freedom of Information 
Act (``FOIA''), 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(8).)
    The agencies have a continuing interest in the public's opinions of 
collections of information. At any time, comments regarding the burden 
estimate, or any other aspect of this collection of information, 
including suggestions for reducing the burden, may be sent to: 
Communications Division, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, 
Mailstop 2-3, Attention: 1557-NEW, 250 E Street SW., Washington, DC 
20219, by electronic mail to regs.comments@occ.treas.gov, or by fax to 
(202) 874-5274; Secretary, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve 
System, 20th and C Streets NW., Washington, DC 20551; Executive 
Secretary, Attention: Comments, FDIC, 550 17th Street NW., Washington, 
DC 20429; and to the Office of Management and Budget, New Executive 
Office Building, Washington, DC 20503.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    Board:
    While the guidance is not being adopted as a rule, the Board has 
considered the potential impact of the guidance on small banking 
organizations in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 
U.S.C. 603(b)). Based on its analysis and for the reasons stated below, 
the Board believes that the final guidance will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
Nevertheless, the Board is publishing a regulatory flexibility 
analysis.
    For the reason discussed in the Supplementary Information above, 
the Board is issuing the guidance to emphasize the importance of stress 
testing as an ongoing risk management practice to support a banking 
organization's forward-looking assessment of risks in order to better 
equip such organization to address a range of adverse outcomes. The 
guidance provides broad principles a banking organization should follow 
in conducting its stress testing activities, such as ensuring that 
those activities fit into the organization's overall risk management 
program. The guidance outlines broad principles for a

[[Page 29464]]

satisfactory stress testing framework, and describes the manner in 
which a banking organization should employ stress testing as an 
integral component of risk management.
    Under regulations issued by the Small Business Administration 
(``SBA''), a small banking organization is defined as a banking 
organization with total assets of $175 million or less. See 13 CFR 
121.201. The final guidance applies to banking organizations supervised 
by the agencies with more than $10 billion in total consolidated 
assets, including state member banks, bank holding companies, savings 
and loan holding companies, and U.S. branches and agencies of foreign 
banking organizations. Banking organizations that are subject to the 
guidance therefore substantially exceed the $175 million total asset 
threshold at which a banking organization is considered a small banking 
organization under SBA regulations. In light of the foregoing, the 
Board does not believe that the guidance has a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities.

V. Final Supervisory Guidance

    The text of the final supervisory guidance is as follows:

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Federal Reserve System

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Guidance on Stress Testing for Banking Organizations With Total 
Consolidated Assets of More Than $10 Billion

I. Introduction

    All banking organizations should have the capacity to understand 
fully their risks and the potential impact of stressful events and 
circumstances on their financial condition. The U.S. federal banking 
agencies have previously highlighted the use of stress testing as a 
means to better understand the range of a banking organization's 
potential risk exposures.\1\ The 2007-2009 financial crisis underscored 
the need for banking organizations to incorporate stress testing into 
their risk management practices, demonstrating that banking 
organizations unprepared for stressful events and circumstances can 
suffer acute threats to their financial condition and viability.\2\ The 
Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the 
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (collectively, the ``agencies'') 
are issuing this guidance to emphasize the importance of stress testing 
as an ongoing risk management practice that supports banking 
organizations' forward-looking assessment of risks and better equips 
them to address a range of adverse outcomes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ See, e.g., Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 10-6, OCC 
Bulletin 2010-13 or FDIC Financial Institution Letter (FIL) 13-2010, 
Interagency Policy Statement on Funding and Liquidity Risk 
Management (March 17, 2010), available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/2010/sr1006.htm 
(hereinafter Funding and Liquidity Risk Management Policy 
Statement); Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 10-1, OCC Bulletin 
2010-1 or FDIC FIL-2-2010, Interagency Advisory on Interest Rate 
Risk (January 11, 2010), available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/2010/sr1001.htm (hereinafter Interest Rate Risk 
Advisory); Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 09-4, Applying 
Supervisory Guidance and Regulations on the Payment of Dividends, 
Stock Redemptions, and Stock Repurchases at Bank Holding Companies 
(revised March 27, 2009), available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/2009/SR0904.htm 
(hereinafter SR 09-04); Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 07-1, 
OCC Bulletin 2006-46 or FDIC FIL-104-2006, Interagency Guidance on 
Concentrations in Commercial Real Estate (January 4, 2007), 
available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/2007/SR0701.htm; Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 01-4, OCC Bulletin 
2001-6 or FDIC FIL-9-2001, Subprime Lending (January 31, 2001), 
available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/2001/SR0104.htm; Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 99-18, Assessing 
Capital Adequacy in Relation to Risk at Large Banking Organizations 
and Others with Complex Risk Profiles (July 1, 1999), available at 
http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/srletters/1999/SR9918 
(hereinafter SR 99-18); Supervisory Guidance: Supervisory Review 
Process of Capital Adequacy (Pillar 2) Related to the Implementation 
of the Basel II Advanced Capital Framework, 73 FR 44620 (July 31, 
2008) (hereinafter Supervisory Review Process of Capital Adequacy); 
The Supervisory Capital Assessment Program: Overview of Results (May 
7, 2009), available at  http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/bcreg/bcreg20090507a1.pdf; Comprehensive Capital Analysis and 
Review: Objectives and Overview (March 18, 2011), available at 
http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/bcreg/bcreg20110318a1.pdf; and 12 CFR 225.8.
    \2\ The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection 
Act (Pub. L. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376) requires financial 
organizations with more than $10 billion in total consolidated 
assets to conduct a stress test at least annually. See generally 12 
U.S.C. 5365(i)(2).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This joint guidance is applicable to all institutions supervised by 
the agencies with more than $10 billion in total consolidated assets. 
Specifically, with respect to the OCC, these banking organizations 
include national banking associations, federal savings associations, 
and federal branches and agencies; with respect to the Board, these 
banking organizations include state member banks, bank holding 
companies, savings and loan holding companies, and all other 
institutions for which the Federal Reserve is the primary federal 
supervisor; with respect to the FDIC, these banking organizations 
include state nonmember banks, state savings associations and insured 
branches of foreign banks.\3\
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    \3\ Given the unique structure of U.S. branches and agencies of 
foreign banking organizations, the agencies recognize that certain 
aspects of this guidance may not apply to those U.S. branches and 
agencies (such as the portions related to capital stress testing) or 
may apply differently (such as the portions related to governance 
and controls). Supervisors can work with these entities on a case-
by-case basis to identify the portions of the guidance that are most 
relevant for them.
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    The guidance does not apply to any supervised institution below the 
designated asset threshold. Certain other existing supervisory guidance 
that applies to all supervised institutions discusses the use of stress 
testing as a tool in certain aspects of risk management, such as for 
commercial real estate concentrations, liquidity risk management, and 
interest-rate risk management. However, no institution at or below $10 
billion in total consolidated assets is subject to this final guidance.
    Building upon previously issued supervisory guidance that discusses 
the uses and merits of stress testing in specific areas of risk 
management, this guidance provides broad principles a banking 
organization should follow in conducting its stress testing activities, 
such as ensuring that those activities fit into the organization's 
overall risk management program. The guidance outlines broad principles 
for a satisfactory stress testing framework and describes the manner in 
which stress testing should be employed as an integral component of 
risk management that is applicable at various levels of aggregation 
within a banking organization, as well as for contributing to capital 
and liquidity planning.\4\ While the guidance is not intended to 
provide detailed instructions for conducting stress testing for any 
particular risk or business area, the document describes several types 
of stress testing activities and how they may be most appropriately 
used by banking organizations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ While capital and liquidity stress tests may be among the 
most prominent, other types of stress testing exercises that use 
different metrics should be conducted.
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II. Overview of Stress Testing Framework

    For purposes of this guidance, stress testing refers to exercises 
used to conduct a forward-looking assessment of the potential impact of 
various adverse events and circumstances on a banking organization. 
Stress testing occurs at various levels of aggregation, including on an 
enterprise-wide basis. As outlined in section IV, there are several 
approaches and applications for

[[Page 29465]]

stress testing and a banking organization should consider the use of 
each in its stress testing framework.
    An effective stress testing framework provides a comprehensive, 
integrated, and forward-looking set of activities for a banking 
organization to employ along with other practices in order to assist in 
the identification and measurement of its material risks and 
vulnerabilities, including those that may manifest themselves during 
stressful economic or financial environments, or arise from firm-
specific adverse events. Such a framework should supplement other 
quantitative risk management practices, such as those that rely 
primarily on statistical estimates of risk or loss estimates based on 
historical data, as well as qualitative practices. In this manner, 
stress testing can assist in highlighting unidentified or under-
assessed risk concentrations and interrelationships and their potential 
impact on the banking organization during times of stress.\5\
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    \5\ For purposes of this guidance, the term ``concentrations'' 
refers to groups of exposures and/or activities that have the 
potential to produce losses large enough to bring about a material 
change in a banking organization's risk profile or financial 
condition.
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    A banking organization should develop and implement its stress 
testing framework in a manner commensurate with its size, complexity, 
business activities, and overall risk profile. Its stress testing 
framework should include clearly defined objectives, well-designed 
scenarios tailored to the banking organization's business and risks, 
well-documented assumptions, sound methodologies to assess potential 
impact on the banking organization's financial condition, informative 
management reports, ongoing and effective review of stress testing 
processes, and recommended actions based on stress test results. Stress 
testing should incorporate the use of high-quality data and appropriate 
assumptions about the performance of the institution under stress to 
ensure that the outputs are credible and can be used to support 
decision-making. Importantly, a banking organization should have a 
sound governance and control infrastructure with objective, critical 
review to ensure the stress testing framework is functioning as 
intended.
    A stress testing framework should allow a banking organization to 
conduct consistent, repeatable exercises that focus on its material 
exposures, activities, risks, and strategies, and also conduct ad hoc 
scenarios as needed. The framework should consider the impact of both 
firm-specific and systemic stress events and circumstances that are 
based on historical experience as well as on hypothetical occurrences 
that could have an adverse impact on a banking organization's 
operations and financial condition. Banking organizations subject to 
this guidance should develop policies on reviewing and assessing the 
effectiveness of their stress testing frameworks, and use those 
policies at least annually to assess the effectiveness of their 
frameworks. Such assessments should help to ensure that stress testing 
coverage is comprehensive, tests are relevant and current, 
methodologies are sound, and results are properly considered.

III. General Stress Testing Principles

    A banking organization should develop and implement an effective 
stress testing framework as part of its broader risk management and 
governance processes. The framework should include several activities 
and exercises, and not just rely on any single test or type of test, 
since every stress test has limitations and relies on certain 
assumptions.
    The uses of a banking organization's stress testing framework 
should include, but are not limited to, augmenting risk identification 
and measurement; estimating business line revenues and losses and 
informing business line strategies; identifying vulnerabilities, 
assessing the potential impact from those vulnerabilities, and 
identifying appropriate actions; assessing capital adequacy and 
enhancing capital planning; assessing liquidity adequacy and informing 
contingency funding plans; contributing to strategic planning; enabling 
senior management to better integrate strategy, risk management, and 
capital and liquidity planning decisions; and assisting with recovery 
and resolution planning. This section describes general principles that 
a banking organization should apply in implementing such a framework.
    Principle 1: A banking organization's stress testing framework 
should include activities and exercises that are tailored to and 
sufficiently capture the banking organization's exposures, activities, 
and risks.
    An effective stress testing framework covers a banking 
organization's full set of material exposures, activities, and risks, 
whether on or off the balance sheet, based on effective enterprise-wide 
risk identification and assessment. Risks addressed in a firm's stress 
testing framework may include (but are not limited to) credit, market, 
operational, interest-rate, liquidity, country, and strategic risk. The 
framework should also address non-contractual sources of risks, such as 
those related to a banking organization's reputation. Appropriate 
coverage is important as stress testing results could give a false 
sense of comfort if certain portfolios, exposures, liabilities, or 
business line activities are not included. Stress testing exercises 
should be part of a banking organization's regular risk identification 
and measurement activities. For example, in assessing credit risk a 
banking organization should evaluate the potential impact of adverse 
outcomes, such as an economic downturn or declining asset values, on 
the condition of its borrowers and counterparties, and on the value of 
any supporting collateral. As another example, in assessing interest-
rate risk, banking organizations should analyze the effects of 
significant interest rate shocks or other yield-curve movements.
    An effective stress testing framework should be applied at various 
levels in the banking organization, such as business line, portfolio, 
and risk type, as well as on an enterprise-wide basis. In many cases, 
stress testing may be more effective at business line and portfolio 
levels, as a higher level of aggregation may cloud or underestimate the 
potential impact of adverse outcomes on a banking organization's 
financial condition. In some cases, stress testing can also be applied 
to individual exposures or instruments. Each stress test should be 
tailored to the relevant level of aggregation, capturing critical risk 
drivers, internal and external influences, and other key considerations 
at the relevant level.
    Stress testing should capture the interplay among different 
exposures, activities, and risks and their combined effects. While 
stress testing several types of risks or business lines simultaneously 
may prove operationally challenging, a banking organization should aim 
to identify common risk drivers across risk types and business lines 
that can adversely affect its financial condition. Accordingly, stress 
tests should provide a banking organization with the ability to 
identify potential concentrations--including those that may not be 
readily observable during benign periods and whose sensitivity to a 
common set of factors is apparent only during times of stress--and to 
assess the impact of identified concentrations of exposures, 
activities, and risks within and across portfolios and business lines 
and on the organization as a whole.
    Stress testing should be tailored to the banking organization's 
idiosyncrasies and specific business mix and include all major business 
lines and significant individual counterparties. For example,

[[Page 29466]]

a banking organization that is geographically concentrated may 
determine that a certain segment of its business may be more adversely 
affected by shocks to economic activity at the state or local level 
than by a severe national recession. On the other hand, if the banking 
organization has significant global operations, it should consider 
scenarios that have an international component and stress conditions 
that could affect the different aspects of its operations in different 
ways, as well as conditions that could adversely affect all of its 
operations at the same time.
    A banking organization should use its stress testing framework to 
determine whether exposures, activities, and risks under normal and 
stressed conditions are aligned with the banking organization's risk 
appetite.\6\ A banking organization can use stress testing to help 
inform decisions about its strategic direction and/or risk appetite by 
better understanding the risks from its exposures or of engaging in 
certain business practices. For example, if a banking organization 
pursues a business strategy for a new or modified product, and the 
banking organization does not have long-standing experience with that 
product or lacks extensive data, the banking organization can use 
stress testing to identify the product's potential downsides and 
unanticipated risks. Scenarios used in a banking organization's stress 
tests should be relevant to the direction and strategy set by its board 
of directors, as well as sufficiently severe to be credible to internal 
and external stakeholders.
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    \6\ For purposes of this guidance, risk appetite is defined as 
the level and type of risk an organization is able and willing to 
assume in its exposures and business activities, given its business 
objectives and obligations to stakeholders. See Senior Supervisors 
Group, Observations on Developments in Risk Appetite Frameworks and 
IT Infrastructure (December 23, 2010), available at http://www.newyorkfed.org/newsevents/news/banking/2010/an101223.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Principle 2: An effective stress testing framework employs multiple 
conceptually sound stress testing activities and approaches.
    All measures of risk, including stress tests, have an element of 
uncertainty due to assumptions, limitations, and other factors 
associated with using past performance measures and forward-looking 
estimates. Banking organizations should, therefore, use multiple stress 
testing activities and approaches (consistent with section IV), and 
ensure that each is conceptually sound. Stress tests usually vary in 
design and complexity, including the number of factors employed and the 
degree of stress applied. A banking organization should ensure that the 
complexity of any given test does not undermine its integrity, 
usefulness, or clarity. In some cases, relatively simple tests can be 
very useful and informative.
    Additionally, effective stress testing relies on high-quality input 
data and information to produce credible outcomes. A banking 
organization should ensure that it has readily available data and other 
information for the types of stress tests it uses, including key 
variables that drive performance. In addition, a banking organization 
should have appropriate management information systems (MIS) and data 
processes that enable it to collect, sort, aggregate, and update data 
and other information efficiently and reliably within business lines 
and across the banking organization for use in stress testing. If 
certain data and information are not current or not available, or if 
proxies are used, a banking organization should analyze the stress test 
outputs with an understanding of those data limitations.
    A banking organization should also document the assumptions used in 
its stress tests and note the degree of uncertainty that may be 
incorporated into the tools used for stress testing. In some cases, it 
may be appropriate to present and analyze test results not just in 
terms of point estimates, but also including the potential margin of 
error or statistical uncertainty around the estimates. Furthermore, 
almost all stress tests, including well-developed quantitative tests 
supported by high-quality data, employ a certain amount of expert or 
business judgment, and the role and impact of such judgment should be 
clearly documented. In some cases, when credible data are lacking and 
more quantitative tests are operationally challenging or in the early 
stages of development, a banking organization may choose to employ more 
qualitatively based tests, provided that the tests are properly 
documented and their assumptions are transparent. Regardless of the 
type of stress tests used, a banking organization should understand and 
clearly document all assumptions, uncertainties, and limitations, and 
provide that information to users of the stress testing results.
    Principle 3: An effective stress testing framework is forward-
looking and flexible.
    A stress testing framework should be sufficiently dynamic and 
flexible to incorporate changes in a banking organization's on- and 
off-balance-sheet activities, portfolio composition, asset quality, 
operating environment, business strategy, and other risks that may 
arise over time from firm-specific events, macroeconomic and financial 
market developments, or some combination of these events. A banking 
organization should also ensure that its MIS are capable of 
incorporating relatively rapid changes in exposures, activities, and 
risks.
    While stress testing should utilize available historical 
information, a banking organization should look beyond assumptions 
based only on historical data and challenge conventional assumptions. A 
banking organization should ensure that it is not constrained by past 
experience and that it considers multiple scenarios, even scenarios 
that have not occurred in the recent past or during the banking 
organization's history. For example, a banking organization should not 
assume that if it has suffered no or minimal losses in a certain 
business line or product that such a pattern will continue. Structural 
changes in customer, product, and financial markets can present 
unprecedented situations for a banking organization. A banking 
organization with any type of significant concentration can be 
particularly vulnerable to rapid changes in economic and financial 
conditions and should try to identify and better understand the impact 
of those vulnerabilities in advance. For example, the risks related to 
residential mortgages were underestimated for a number of years leading 
up to the 2007-2009 financial crisis by a large number of banking 
organizations, and those risks eventually affected the banking 
organizations in a variety of ways. Effective stress testing can help a 
banking organization identify any such concentrations and help 
understand the potential impact of several key aspects of the business 
being exposed to common drivers.
    Stress testing should be conducted over various relevant time 
horizons to adequately capture both conditions that may materialize in 
the near term and adverse situations that take longer to develop. For 
example, when a banking organization stress tests a portfolio for 
market and credit risks simultaneously, it should consider that certain 
credit risk losses may take longer to materialize than market risk 
losses, and also that the severity and speed of mark-to-market losses 
may create significant vulnerabilities for the firm, even if a more 
fundamental analysis of how realized losses may play out over time 
seems to show less threatening results. A banking organization should 
carefully consider the incremental and cumulative effects of stress 
conditions, particularly with respect to potential interactions among 
exposures, activities,

[[Page 29467]]

and risks and possible second-order or ``knock-on'' effects.
    In addition to conducting formal, routine stress tests, a banking 
organization should have the flexibility to conduct new or ad hoc 
stress tests in a timely manner to address rapidly emerging risks. 
These less routine tests usually can be conducted in a short amount of 
time and may be simpler and less extensive than a banking 
organization's more formal, regular tests. However, for its ad hoc 
tests a banking organization should still have the capacity to bring 
together approximated information on risks, exposures, and activities 
and assess their impact.
    More broadly, a banking organization should continue updating and 
maintaining its stress testing framework in light of new risks, better 
understanding of the banking organization's exposures and activities, 
new stress testing techniques, and any changes in its operating 
structure and environment. A banking organization's stress testing 
development should be iterative, with ongoing adjustments and 
refinements to better calibrate the tests to provide current and 
relevant information. Banking organizations should document the ongoing 
development of their stress testing practices.
    Principle 4: Stress test results should be clear, actionable, well 
supported, and inform decision-making.
    Stress testing should incorporate measures that adequately and 
effectively convey results of the impact of adverse outcomes. Such 
measures may include, for example, changes to asset values, accounting 
and economic profit and loss, revenue streams, liquidity levels, cash 
flows, regulatory capital, risk-weighted assets, the loan loss 
allowance, internal capital estimates, levels of problem assets, 
breaches in covenants or key trigger levels, or other relevant 
measures. Stress test measures should be tailored to the type of test 
and the particular level at which the test is applied (for example, at 
the business line or risk level). Some stress tests may require using a 
range of measures to evaluate the full impact of certain events, such 
as a severe systemic event. In addition, all stress test results should 
be accompanied by descriptive and qualitative information (such as key 
assumptions and limitations) to allow users to interpret the exercises 
in context. The analysis and the process should be well documented so 
that stress testing processes can be replicated if need be.
    A banking organization should regularly communicate stress test 
results to appropriate levels within the banking organization to foster 
dialogue around stress testing, keep the board of directors, 
management, and staff apprised, and to inform stress testing 
approaches, results, and decisions in other areas of the banking 
organization. A banking organization should maintain an internal 
summary of test results to document at a high level the range of its 
stress testing activities and outcomes, as well as proposed follow-up 
actions. Regular review of stress test results can be an important part 
of a banking organization's ability over time to track the impact of 
ongoing business activities, changes in exposures, varying economic 
conditions, and market movements on its financial condition. In 
addition, management should review stress testing activities on a 
regular basis to determine, among other things, the validity of the 
assumptions, the severity of tests, the robustness of the estimates, 
the performance of any underlying models, and the stability and 
reasonableness of the results.
    Stress test results should inform analysis and decision-making 
related to business strategies, limits, risk profile, and other aspects 
of risk management, consistent with the banking organization's 
established risk appetite. A banking organization should review the 
results of its various stress tests with the strengths and limitations 
of each test in mind (consistent with Principle 2), determine which 
results should be given greater or lesser weight, analyze the combined 
impact of its tests, and then evaluate potential courses of action 
based on that analysis. A banking organization may decide to maintain 
its current course based on test results; indeed, the results of highly 
severe stress tests need not always indicate that immediate action has 
to be taken. Wherever possible, benchmarking or other comparative 
analysis should be used to evaluate the stress testing results relative 
to other tools and measures--both internal and external to the banking 
organization--to provide proper context and a check on results.
    Principle 5: An organization's stress testing framework should 
include strong governance and effective internal controls.
    Similar to other aspects of its risk management, a banking 
organization's stress testing framework will be effective only if it is 
subject to strong governance and effective internal controls to ensure 
the framework is functioning as intended. Strong governance and 
effective internal controls help ensure that the framework contains 
core elements, from clearly defined stress testing objectives to 
recommended actions. Importantly, strong governance provides critical 
review of elements of the stress testing framework, especially 
regarding key assumptions, uncertainties, and limitations. A banking 
organization should ensure that the stress testing framework is not 
isolated within a banking organization's risk management function, but 
is firmly integrated into business lines, capital and asset-liability 
committees, and other decision-making bodies. Along those lines, the 
board of directors and senior management should play key roles in 
ensuring strong governance and controls. The extent and sophistication 
of a banking organization's governance over its stress testing 
framework should align with the extent and sophistication of that 
framework. Additional details regarding governance and controls of an 
organization's stress testing framework are outlined in section VI.

IV. Stress Testing Approaches and Applications

    This section discusses some general types of stress testing 
approaches and applications. For any type of stress test, banking 
organizations should indicate the specific purpose and the focus of the 
test. Defining the scope of a given stress test is also important, 
whether it applies at the portfolio, business line, risk type, or 
enterprise-wide level, or even just for an individual exposure or 
counterparty. Based on the purpose and scope of the test, different 
stress testing techniques are most useful. Thus, a banking organization 
should employ several approaches and applications; these might include 
scenario analysis, sensitivity analysis, enterprise-wide stress 
testing, and reverse stress testing. Consistent with Principle 1, 
banking organizations should apply these commensurate with their size, 
complexity, and business profile, and may not need to incorporate all 
of the details described below. Consistent with Principle 3, banking 
organizations should also recognize that stress testing approaches will 
evolve over time and they should update their practices as needed.

Scenario Analysis

    Scenario analysis refers to a type of stress testing in which a 
banking organization applies historical or hypothetical scenarios to 
assess the impact of various events and circumstances, including 
extreme ones. Scenarios usually involve some kind of coherent, logical 
narrative or ``story'' as to why certain events and circumstances can 
occur and in which combination and order, such as a severe recession,

[[Page 29468]]

failure of a major counterparty, loss of major clients, natural or man-
made disaster, localized economic downturn, disruptions in funding or 
capital markets, or a sudden change in interest rates brought about by 
unfavorable inflation developments. Scenario analysis can be applied at 
various levels of the banking organization, such as within individual 
business lines to help identify factors that could harm those business 
lines most.
    Stress scenarios should reflect a banking organization's unique 
vulnerabilities to factors that affect its exposures, activities, and 
risks. For example, if a banking organization is concentrated in a 
particular line of business, such as commercial real estate or 
residential mortgage lending, it would be appropriate to explore the 
impact of a downturn in those particular market segments. Similarly, a 
banking organization with lending concentrations to oil and gas 
companies should include scenarios related to the energy sector. Other 
relevant factors to be considered in scenario analysis relate to 
operational, reputational and legal risks to a banking organization, 
such as significant events of fraud or litigation, or a situation when 
a banking organization feels compelled to provide support to an 
affiliate or provide other types of non-contractual support to avoid 
reputational damage. Scenarios should be internally consistent and 
portray realistic outcomes based on underlying relationships among 
variables, and should include only those mitigating developments that 
are consistent with the scenario. Additionally, a banking organization 
should consider the best manner to try to capture combinations of 
stressful events and circumstances, including second-order and ``knock-
on'' effects. Ultimately, a banking organization should select and 
design multiple scenarios that are relevant to its profile and make 
intuitive sense, use enough scenarios to explore the range of potential 
outcomes, and ensure that the scenarios continue to be timely and 
relevant.
    A banking organization may apply scenario analysis within the 
context of its existing risk measurement tools (e.g., the impact of a 
severe decline in market prices on a banking organization's value-at-
risk (VaR) measure) or use it as an alternative, supplemental measure. 
For instance, a banking organization may use scenario analysis to 
measure the impact of a severe financial market disturbance and compare 
those results to what is produced by its VaR or other measures. This 
type of scenario analysis should account for known shortcomings of 
other risk measurement practices. For example, market risk VaR models 
generally assume liquid markets with known prices. Scenario analysis 
could shed light on the effects of a breakdown in liquidity and of 
valuation difficulties.
    One of the key challenges with scenario analysis is to translate a 
scenario into balance sheet impact, changes in risk measures, potential 
losses, or other measures of adverse financial impact, which would vary 
depending on the test design and the type of scenario used. For some 
aspects of scenario analysis, banking organizations may use econometric 
or similar types of analysis to estimate a relationship between some 
underlying factors or drivers and risk estimates or loss projections 
based on a given data set, and then extrapolate to see the impact of 
more severe inputs. Care should be taken not to make assumptions that 
relationships from benign or mildly adverse times will hold during more 
severe times or that estimating such relationships is relatively 
straightforward. For example, linear relationships between risk drivers 
and losses may become nonlinear during times of stress. In addition, 
organizations should recognize that there can be multiple permutations 
of outcomes from just a few key risk drivers.

Sensitivity Analysis

    Sensitivity analysis refers to a banking organization's assessment 
of its exposures, activities, and risks when certain variables, 
parameters, and inputs are ``stressed'' or ``shocked.'' A key goal of 
sensitivity analysis is to test the impact of assumptions on outcomes. 
Generally, sensitivity analysis differs from scenario analysis in that 
it involves changing variables, parameters, or inputs without an 
explicit underlying reason or narrative, in order to explore what 
occurs under a range of inputs and at extreme or highly adverse levels. 
In this type of analysis a banking organization may realize, for 
example, that a given relationship is much more difficult to estimate 
at extreme levels.
    A banking organization may apply sensitivity analysis at various 
levels of aggregation to estimate the impact from a change in one or 
more key variables. The results may help a banking organization better 
understand the range of outcomes from some of its models, such as 
developing a distribution of output based on a variety of extreme 
inputs. For example, a banking organization may choose to calculate a 
range of changes to a structured security's overall value using a range 
of different assumptions about the performance and linkage of 
underlying cash flows. Sensitivity analysis should be conducted 
periodically due to potential changes in a banking organization's 
exposures, activities, operating environment, or the relationship of 
variables to one another.
    Sensitivity analysis can also help to assess a combined impact on a 
banking organization of several variables, parameters, factors, or 
drivers. For example, a banking organization could better understand 
the impact on its credit losses from a combined increase in default 
rates and a decrease in collateral values. A banking organization could 
also explore the impact of highly adverse capitalization rates, 
declines in net operating income, and reductions in collateral when 
evaluating its risks from commercial real estate exposures. Sensitivity 
analysis can be especially useful because it is not necessarily 
accompanied by a particular narrative or scenario; that is, sensitivity 
analysis can provide banking organizations more flexibility to explore 
the impact of potential stresses that they may not be able to capture 
in designed scenarios. Furthermore, banking organizations may decide to 
conduct sensitivity analysis of their scenarios, i.e., choosing 
different levels or paths of variables to understand the sensitivities 
of choices made during scenario design. For instance, banking 
organizations may decide to apply a few different interest-rate paths 
for a given scenario.

Enterprise-Wide Stress Testing

    Enterprise-wide stress testing is an application of stress testing 
that involves assessing the impact of certain specified scenarios on 
the banking organization as a whole, particularly with regard to 
capital and liquidity. As is the case with scenario analysis more 
generally, enterprise-wide stress testing involves robust scenario 
design and effective translation of scenarios into measures of impact. 
Enterprise-wide stress tests can help a banking organization in its 
efforts to assess the impact of its full set of risks under adverse 
events and circumstances, but should be supplemented with other stress 
tests and other risk measurement tools given inherent limitations in 
capturing all risks and all adverse outcomes in one test.
    Scenario design for enterprise-wide stress testing involves 
developing scenarios that affect the banking organization as a whole 
that stem from macroeconomic, market-wide, and/or firm-specific events. 
These scenarios should incorporate the potential simultaneous 
occurrence of both firm-

[[Page 29469]]

specific and macroeconomic and market-wide events, considering system-
wide interactions and feedback effects. For example, price shocks may 
lead to significant portfolio losses, rising funding gaps, a ratings 
downgrade, and diminished access to funding. In general, it is a good 
practice to consult with a large set of individuals within the banking 
organization--in various business lines, research and risk areas--to 
gain a wide perspective on how enterprise-wide scenarios should be 
designed and to ensure that the scenarios capture the relevant aspects 
of the banking organization's business and risks. Banking organizations 
should also conduct scenarios of varying severity to gauge the relative 
impact. At least some scenarios should be of sufficient severity to 
challenge the viability of the banking organization, and should include 
instantaneous market shocks and stressful periods of extended duration 
(e.g., not just a one- or two-quarter shock after which conditions 
return to normal).
    Selection of scenario variables is important for enterprise-wide 
tests, because these variables generally serve as the link between the 
overall narrative of the scenario and tangible impact on the banking 
organization as a whole. For instance, in aiming to capture the 
combined impact of a severe recession and a financial market downturn, 
a banking organization may choose a set of variables such as changes in 
gross domestic product (GDP), unemployment rate, interest rates, stock 
market levels, or home price levels. However, particularly when 
assessing the impact on the whole banking organization, using a large 
number of variables can make a test more cumbersome and complicated--so 
a banking organization may also benefit from simpler scenarios or from 
those with fewer variables. Banking organizations should balance the 
comprehensiveness of contributing variables and tractability of the 
exercise.
    As with scenario analysis generally, translating scenarios into 
tangible effects on the banking organization as a whole presents 
certain challenges. A banking organization should identify appropriate 
and meaningful mechanisms for translating scenarios into relevant 
internal risk parameters that provide a firm-wide view of risks and 
understanding of how these risks are translated into loss estimates. 
Not all business areas are equally affected by a given scenario, and 
problems in one business area can have effects on other units. However, 
for an enterprise-wide test, assumptions across business lines and risk 
areas should remain constant for the chosen scenario, since the 
objective is to see how the banking organization as a whole will be 
affected by a common scenario.

Reverse Stress Testing

    Reverse stress testing is a tool that allows a banking organization 
to assume a known adverse outcome, such as suffering a credit loss that 
breaches regulatory capital ratios or suffering severe liquidity 
constraints that render it unable to meet its obligations, and then 
deduce the types of events that could lead to such an outcome. This 
type of stress testing may help a banking organization to consider 
scenarios beyond its normal business expectations and see the impact of 
severe systemic effects on the banking organization. It also allows a 
banking organization to challenge common assumptions about its 
performance and expected mitigation strategies.
    Reverse stress testing helps to explore so-called ``break the 
bank'' situations, allowing a banking organization to set aside the 
issue of estimating the likelihood of severe events and to focus more 
on what kinds of events could threaten the viability of the banking 
organization. This type of stress testing also helps a banking 
organization evaluate the combined effect of several types of extreme 
events and circumstances that might threaten the survival of the 
banking organization, even if in isolation each of the effects might be 
manageable. For instance, reverse stress testing may help a banking 
organization recognize that a certain level of unemployment would have 
a severe impact on credit losses, that a market disturbance could 
create additional losses and result in rising funding costs, and that a 
firm-specific case of fraud would cause even further losses and 
reputational impact that could threaten a banking organization's 
viability. In some cases, reverse stress tests could reveal to a 
banking organization that ``breaking the bank'' is not as remote an 
outcome as originally thought.
    Given the numerous potential threats to a banking organization's 
viability, the organization should ensure that it focuses first on 
those scenarios that have the largest firm-wide impact, such as 
insolvency or illiquidity, but also on those that seem most imminent 
given the current environment. Focusing on the most prominent 
vulnerabilities helps a banking organization prioritize its choice of 
scenarios for reverse stress testing. However, a banking organization 
should also consider a wider range of possible scenarios that could 
jeopardize the viability of the banking organization, exploring what 
could represent potential blind spots. Reverse stress testing can 
highlight previously unacknowledged sources of risk that could be 
mitigated through enhanced risk management.

V. Stress Testing for Assessing the Adequacy of Capital and Liquidity

    There are many uses of stress testing within banking organizations. 
Prominent among these are stress tests designed to assess the adequacy 
of capital and liquidity. Given the importance of capital and liquidity 
to a banking organization's viability, stress testing should be applied 
in these two areas in particular, including an evaluation of the 
interaction between capital and liquidity and the potential for both to 
become impaired at the same time. Depletions and shortages of capital 
or liquidity can cause a banking organization to no longer perform 
effectively as a financial intermediary, be viewed by its 
counterparties as no longer viable, become insolvent, or diminish its 
capacity to meet legal and financial obligations. A banking 
organization's capital and liquidity stress testing should consider how 
losses, earnings, cash flows, capital, and liquidity would be affected 
in an environment in which multiple risks manifest themselves at the 
same time, for example, an increase in credit losses during an adverse 
interest-rate environment. Additionally, banking organizations should 
recognize that at the end of the time horizon considered by a given 
stress test, they may still have substantial residual risks or problem 
exposures that may continue to pressure capital and liquidity 
resources.
    Stress testing for capital and liquidity adequacy should be 
conducted in coordination with a banking organization's overall 
strategy and annual planning cycles. Results should be refreshed in the 
event of major strategic decisions, or other decisions that can 
materially impact capital or liquidity. Banking organizations should 
conduct stress testing for capital and liquidity adequacy periodically.

Capital Stress Testing

    Capital stress testing results can serve as a useful tool to 
support a banking organization's capital planning and corporate 
governance.\7\ They may help a banking organization better understand 
its vulnerabilities and evaluate the impact of adverse outcomes on its

[[Page 29470]]

capital position and ensure that the banking organization holds 
adequate capital given its business model, including the complexity of 
its activities and its risk profile. Capital stress testing complements 
a banking organization's regulatory capital analysis \8\ by providing a 
forward-looking assessment of capital adequacy, usually with a forecast 
horizon of at least two years (with the recognition that the effects of 
certain stress conditions could extend beyond two years for some stress 
tests), and highlighting the potential adverse effects on capital 
levels and ratios from risks not fully captured in regulatory capital 
requirements. It should also be used to help a banking organization 
assess the quality and composition of capital and its ability to absorb 
losses. Stress testing can aid capital contingency planning by helping 
management identify exposures or risks in advance that would need to be 
reduced and actions that could be taken to bolster capital levels or 
otherwise maintain capital adequacy, as well as actions that in times 
of stress might not be possible--such as raising capital.
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    \7\ In this manner, stress testing can form an integral part of 
an organization's internal capital adequacy process, consistent with 
supervisory standards outlined in SR 09-4, SR 99-18, and Supervisory 
Review Process of Capital Adequacy, supra note 12.
    \8\ While savings and loan holding companies currently are not 
subject to consolidated regulatory leverage or risk-based capital 
requirements, a savings and loan holding company should have 
sufficient capital and an effective capital planning process, 
consistent with its overall risk profile and considering the size, 
scope, and complexity of its operations, to ensure the safe and 
sound operation of the company. See Supervision and Regulation 
Letter SR 11-11, Supervision of Savings and Loan Holding Companies 
(July 21, 2011), available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/bankinforeg/srletters/sr1111.pdf.
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    Capital stress testing should include exercises that analyze the 
potential for changes in earnings, losses, reserves, and other 
potential effects on capital under a variety of stressful 
circumstances. Such testing should also capture any potential change in 
risk-weighted assets, the ability of capital to absorb losses, and any 
resulting impact on the banking organization's capital ratios. It 
should include all relevant risk types and other factors that have a 
potential to affect capital adequacy, whether directly or indirectly, 
including firm-specific ones. A banking organization should also 
explore the potential for possible balance sheet expansion to put 
pressure on capital ratios and consider risk mitigation and capital 
preservation options, other than simply shrinking the balance sheet. 
Capital stress testing should assess the potential impact of a banking 
organization's material subsidiaries suffering capital problems on 
their own--such as being unable to meet local country capital 
requirements--even if the consolidated banking organization is not 
encountering problems.\9\ Where material relative to the banking 
organization's capital, counterparty exposures should also be included 
in capital stress testing.
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    \9\ For regulated subsidiaries, stress testing activities should 
be fully consistent with the regulations and guidance of the 
relevant primary federal supervisor.
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    Enterprise-wide stress testing, as described in section IV, should 
be an integral part of a banking organization's capital stress 
testing.\10\ Such enterprise-wide testing should include pro-forma 
estimates of not only potential losses and resources available to 
absorb losses, but also potential planned capital actions (such as 
dividends or share repurchases) that would affect the banking 
organization's capital position, including regulatory and other capital 
ratios. There should also be consideration of the impact on the banking 
organization's allowance for loan and lease losses and other relevant 
financial metrics. Even with very effective enterprise-wide tests, 
banking organizations should use capital stress testing in conjunction 
with other internal approaches (in addition to regulatory measures) for 
assessing capital adequacy, such as those that rely primarily on 
statistical estimates of risk or loss estimates based on historical 
data.
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    \10\ The agencies expect that the stress test requirements in 
the Dodd-Frank Act for companies with more than $10 billion in 
assets would be an integral part of this type of stress testing.
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Liquidity Stress Testing

    A banking organization should also conduct stress testing for 
liquidity adequacy.\11\ Through such stress testing a banking 
organization can work to identify vulnerabilities related to liquidity 
adequacy in light of both firm-specific and market-wide stress events 
and circumstances. Effective stress testing helps a banking 
organization identify and quantify the depth, source, and degree of 
potential liquidity and funding strain and to analyze possible impacts 
on its cash flows, liquidity position, profitability, and other aspects 
of its financial condition over various time horizons. For example, 
stress testing can be used to explore potential funding shortfalls, 
shortages in liquid assets, the inability to issue debt, exposure to 
possible deposit outflows, volatility in short-term brokered deposits, 
sensitivity of funding to a ratings downgrade, and the impact of 
reduced collateral values on borrowing capacity at the Federal Home 
Loan Banks, the Federal Reserve discount window, or other secured 
wholesale funding sources.
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    \11\ See, Funding and Liquidity Risk Management Policy Statement 
and Interest Rate Risk Advisory, supra note 12.
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    Liquidity stress testing should explore the potential impact of 
adverse developments that may affect market and asset liquidity, 
including the freezing up of credit and funding markets, and the 
corresponding impact on the banking organization. Such tests can also 
help identify the conditions under which balance sheets might expand, 
thus creating additional funding needs (e.g., through accelerated 
drawdowns on unfunded commitments). These tests also help determine 
whether the banking organization has a sufficient liquidity buffer to 
meet various types of future liquidity demands under stressful 
conditions. In this regard, liquidity stress testing should be an 
integral part of the development and maintenance of a banking 
organization's contingency funding planning. Liquidity stress testing 
should include enterprise-wide tests as discussed in section IV, but 
should also be applied, as appropriate, at lower levels of the banking 
organization, and in particular should account for regulatory or 
supervisory restrictions on inter-affiliate funding and asset 
transfers. As with capital stress testing, banking organizations may 
need to conduct liquidity stress tests at both the consolidated and 
subsidiary level. In undertaking enterprise-wide liquidity tests 
banking organizations should make realistic assumptions as to the 
implications of liquidity stresses in one part of the banking 
organization on other parts.
    An effective stress testing framework should explore the potential 
for capital and liquidity problems to arise at the same time or 
exacerbate one another. For example, a banking organization in a 
stressed liquidity position is often required to take actions that have 
a negative direct or indirect capital impact (e.g., selling assets at a 
loss or incurring funding costs at above market rates to meet funding 
needs). A banking organization's liquidity stress analysis should 
explore situations in which the banking organization may be operating 
with a capital position that exceeds regulatory minimums, but is 
nonetheless viewed within the financial markets or by its 
counterparties as being of questionable viability. Assessing the 
potential interaction of capital and liquidity can be challenging and 
may not be possible within a single stress test, so organizations 
should explore several avenues to assess that interaction. As with 
other applications of stress testing, for its capital and liquidity 
stress tests, it is beneficial for a banking organization to articulate

[[Page 29471]]

clearly its objectives for a post-stress outcome, for instance to 
remain a viable financial market participant that is able to meet its 
existing and prospective obligations and commitments. In such cases, 
banking organizations would have to consider which measures of 
financial condition would need to be met on a post-stress basis to 
secure the confidence of counterparties and market participants.

VI. Governance and Controls

    As noted under Principle 5, a banking organization's stress testing 
framework will be effective only if it is subject to strong governance 
and controls to ensure the framework is functioning as intended. The 
extent and sophistication of a banking organization's governance over 
its stress testing framework should align with the extent and 
sophistication of that framework.
    Governance over a banking organization's stress testing framework 
rests with the banking organization's board of directors and senior 
management. As part of their overall responsibilities, a banking 
organization's board and senior management should establish a 
comprehensive, integrated and effective stress testing framework that 
fits into the broader risk management of the banking organization. 
While the board is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the banking 
organization has an effective stress testing framework, senior 
management generally has responsibility for implementing that 
framework. Senior management duties should include establishing 
adequate policies and procedures and ensuring compliance with those 
policies and procedures, assigning competent staff, overseeing stress 
test development and implementation, evaluating stress test results, 
reviewing any findings related to the functioning of stress test 
processes, and taking prompt remedial action where necessary. Senior 
management, directly and through relevant committees, also should be 
responsible for regularly reporting to the board on stress testing 
developments (including the process to design tests and develop 
scenarios) and on stress testing results (including from individual 
tests, where material), as well as on compliance with stress testing 
policy. Board members should actively evaluate and discuss this 
information, ensuring that the stress testing framework is in line with 
the banking organization's risk appetite, overall strategy and business 
plans, and contingency plans, directing changes where appropriate.
    A banking organization should have written policies, approved and 
annually reviewed by the board, that direct and govern the 
implementation of the stress testing framework in a comprehensive 
manner. Policies, along with procedures to implement them, should:
     Describe the overall purpose of stress testing activities;
     Articulate consistent and sufficiently rigorous stress 
testing practices across the entire banking organization;
     Indicate stress testing roles and responsibilities, 
including controls over external resources used for any part of stress 
testing (such as vendors and data providers);
     Describe the frequency and priority with which stress 
testing activities should be conducted;
     Indicate how stress test results are used, by whom, and 
outline instances in which remedial actions should be taken; and
     Be reviewed and updated as necessary to ensure that stress 
testing practices remain appropriate and keep up to date with changes 
in market conditions, banking organization products and strategies, 
banking organization exposures and activities, the banking 
organization's established risk appetite, and industry stress testing 
practices.
    A stress testing framework should incorporate validation or other 
type of independent review to ensure the integrity of stress testing 
processes and results, consistent with existing supervisory 
expectations.\12\ If a banking organization engages a third party 
vendor to support some or all of its stress testing activities, there 
should be appropriate controls in place to ensure that those externally 
developed systems and processes are sound, applied correctly, and 
appropriate for the banking organization's risks, activities, and 
exposures. Additionally, senior management should be mindful of any 
potential inconsistencies, contradictions, or gaps among its stress 
tests and assess what actions should be taken as a result. Internal 
audit should also provide independent evaluation of the ongoing 
performance, integrity, and reliability of the stress testing 
framework. A banking organization should ensure that its stress tests 
are documented appropriately, including a description of the types of 
stress tests and methodologies used, key assumptions, results, and 
suggested actions. Senior management, in consultation with the board, 
should review stress testing activities and results with an 
appropriately critical eye and ensure that there is objective review of 
all stress testing processes.
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    \12\ For validation of models and other quantitative tools used 
for stress testing, see OCC Bulletin 2011-12, Supervisory Guidance 
on Model Risk Management (April 4, 2011), available at http://www.occ.gov/news-issuances/bulletins/2011/bulletin-2011-12a.pdf; or 
Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 11-7, Guidance on Model Risk 
Management (April 4, 2011), available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/bankinforeg/srletters/sr1107.pdf.
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    The results of stress testing analyses should facilitate decision-
making by the board and senior management. Stress testing results 
should be used to inform the board about alignment of the banking 
organization's risk profile with the board's chosen risk appetite, as 
well as inform operating and strategic decisions. Stress testing 
results should be considered directly by the board and senior 
management for decisions relating to capital and liquidity adequacy, 
including capital contingency plans and contingency funding plans. 
Senior management, in consultation with the board, should ensure that 
the stress testing framework includes a sufficient range of stress 
testing activities applied at the appropriate levels of the banking 
organization (i.e., not just one enterprise-wide stress test). Sound 
governance also includes using stress testing to consider the 
effectiveness of a banking organization's risk mitigation techniques 
for various risk types over their respective time horizons, such as to 
explore what could occur if expected mitigation techniques break down 
during stressful periods.

VII. Conclusion

    A banking organization should use the principles laid out in this 
guidance to develop, implement, and maintain an effective stress 
testing framework. Such a framework should be adequately tailored to 
the banking organization's size, complexity, risks, exposures, and 
activities. A key purpose of stress testing is to explore various types 
of possible outcomes, including rare and extreme events and 
circumstances, assess their impact on the banking organization, and 
then evaluate the boundaries up to which the banking organization plans 
to be able to withstand such outcomes. Stress testing may be 
particularly valuable during benign periods when other measures may not 
indicate emerging risks.
    While stress testing can provide valuable information regarding 
potential future outcomes, similar to any other risk management tool it 
has limitations and cannot provide absolute certainty regarding the 
implications of assumed events and impacts. Furthermore, management 
should ensure that stress testing activities are not constrained to

[[Page 29472]]

reflect past experiences, but instead consider a broad range of 
possibilities. No single stress test can accurately estimate the impact 
of all stressful events and circumstances; therefore, a banking 
organization should understand and account for stress testing 
limitations and uncertainties, and use stress tests in combination with 
other risk management tools to make informed risk management and 
business decisions.

    Dated: May 10, 2012.
Thomas J. Curry,
Comptroller of the Currency.

    By order of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve 
System, May 11, 2012.
Jennifer J. Johnson,
Secretary of the Board.
    Dated at Washington, DC, this 10th day of May 2012.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Robert E. Feldman,
Executive Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2012-11989 Filed 5-16-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE CODE 4810-33-P; 6210-01-P; 6714-01-P