Connect with us

Top Stories

Don’t let ringfencing get the better of you: connected planning will make compliance a breeze

Published

on

Don’t let ringfencing get the better of you: connected planning will make compliance a breeze

Henri Wajsblat, Head of Financial Services Solutions, Anaplan 

Increasing regulation is just one thing we’ve inherited from the 2008 financial crisis. While it may seem like a growing paranoia within the industry, making sure the economy is better prepared for upcoming financial challenges is a vital step towards post-crisis reform. From 1 January 2019, the largest UK banks must separate core retail banking from investment banking: a move known as ringfencing.Well-known for having the most complex IT architectures, banks operate myriads of IT systems across the enterprise as well as within a single department. Proper management of these systems is key to the smooth running of any bank, or they risk losing control of sensitive customer information. The new regulation means that banks will have to make significant operational changes to help govern the shift, like hiring new management teams to own each arm.

This added silo will test the level of integration between teams, and make sure they are aligned on wider business objectives. But the laborious task of switching over sort codes and account numbers comes with challenges. It’s an enormously complex task to build, extract and construct the new infrastructure to hold these accounts – HSBC alone has already spent £400m on the process. With the UK’s exit from the EU also looming on the horizon, banks will be tasked with carefully managing resources to meet compliance deadlines. 

Is ringfencing a risk? 

Ringfencing creates a bold line of separation between the retail and investment entities and their respective management, staff, customer accounts and IT systems. While this is good news for banking customers, it has the potential to create added layers of complexity to an already elaborate system.

Banks will see a sharp increase in operating costs as UK banks are being challenged on their profit margins while at the same time trying to adjust to other new regulations from the international accounting standard IFRS9, to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The split may drive higher cost of capital on the lending market as UK banks will be required to heavily capitalize their retail business. It is likely that Eurozone lenders will take advantage of this situation to increase their share in the UK corporate lending market. Meanwhile, banks such as Barclays and HSBC are having to fight harder to secure their foothold in the UK; they’ve both recently been placed under review for downgrade by Moody’s which was directly due to the impact of the ring-fencing legislation.

Since the regulation only applies in the UK, there is the danger that ringfencing may impact the competitiveness of local banks versus non-UK financial institutions operating with a universal model, boasting more integrated operations and governance across their divisions.

Finally, the changes will highlight how secure the process is. Banks need to make sure that customer data is completely secure throughout the process of transferring data across to different systems and databases. IT security threats are at an all-time high and if data is exposed at any point during the transfer it could have a potentially devastating impact on banks. Not only do banks risk losing customer trust, but they could also face millions of pounds in fines following the implementation of GDPR in May.

How can leaders ensure a smooth transition?

To secure a smooth transition, management teams will need thorough governance of the ringfencing process, both from a data and IT system perspective, involving data reconciliation and system testing activities. Bank directors will also need to look at the overall costs involved in implementing ringfencing. Finally, they may want to conduct intense scenario-based modelling and forecasting to align the bank’s ring-fencing programme with its corporate strategy and the regulator’s expectations.

How can connected planning help? 

Connected planning enables banks to gather data from the various functions into a single platform for planning, forecasting and reporting. From a ringfencing perspective, the benefits of connected planning are two-fold.

Firstly, it eliminates silos across the bank, eases data reconciliations and makes it possible to disclose a single version of the truth to internal and external stakeholders. Any flaws in the data reconciliation processes during, before and after ringfencing, whether customer, finance, risk, operational or HR data, could generate reputational damages for the bank.

Secondly, as banks begin to ringfence their operations, leaders will need to be able to pull information and assumptions from all departments involved to manage the effectiveness of the project and prepare for the post-ringfencing situation. Relying on driver-based scenario planning and modelling capabilities will allow them to generate a number of scenarios and anticipate the business impact of each ahead of changing course.

Go beyond compliance with better decision making

The complexity of the constantly-evolving banking regulations puts bank leaders under considerable pressure to comply with the new requirements, adapt their data and systems in record time and anticipate the impact on their business. Ringfencing is just one example of the upcoming changes banks are faced with: IFRS9, stress tests, GDPR or Brexit are all testing banks abilities to cope with change.

To prepare, banks need to gather data from the past with forward-looking information to provide insights under different scenarios and assumptions. Connected planning will help banks navigate through these regulatory changes. By eliminating silos and combining past and forward-looking data banks can better prepare for potential scenarios and improve data reconciliation. Using a more joined up approach to planning will not only support compliance but will ultimately help banks drive better decisions.

Top Stories

Airbus CEO urges trade war ceasefire, easing of COVID travel bans

Published

on

Airbus CEO urges trade war ceasefire, easing of COVID travel bans 1

By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) – The head of European planemaker Airbus called on Saturday for a “ceasefire” in a transatlantic trade war over aircraft subsidies, saying tit-for-tat tariffs on planes and other goods had aggravated damage from the COVID-19 crisis.

Washington progressively imposed import duties of 15% on Airbus jets from 2019 after a prolonged dispute at the World Trade Organization, and the EU responded with matching tariffs on Boeing jets a year later. Wine, whisky and other goods are also affected.

“This dispute, which is now an old dispute, has put us in a lose-lose situation,” Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said in a radio interview.

“We have ended up in a situation where wisdom would normally dictate that we have a ceasefire and resolve this conflict,” he told France Inter.

Boeing was not immediately available for comment.

Brazil, which has waged separate battles with Canada over subsidies for smaller regional jets, on Thursday dropped its own complaint against Ottawa and called for a global peace deal between producing nations on support for aerospace.

Faury said the dispute with Boeing was particularly damaging during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has badly hit air travel and led to travel restrictions or border closures. He expressed particular concern about widening bans within Europe.

“We are extremely frustrated by the barriers that restrict personal movement and it is almost impossible today to travel in Europe by plane, even domestically,” he said.

“The priority no. 1 for countries in general is to reopen frontiers and allow people to travel on the basis of tests and then eventually vaccinations.”

The comments come as businesses increase pressure on governments to reopen economies as coronavirus vaccine roll-outs gather pace across Europe.

France has defended recently introduced border restrictions, saying they will help the government avoid a new lockdown and stay in force until at least the end of February.

Germany installed border controls with the Czech Republic and Austria last Sunday, drawing protest from Austria and concerns about supply-chain disruptions.

Berlin calls the move a temporary measure of last resort.

Poland said on Saturday it had not ruled out imposing restrictions at the country’s borders with Slovakia and the Czech Republic due to rising COVID-19 cases.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Continue Reading

Top Stories

Why a predictable cold snap crippled the Texas power grid

Published

on

Why a predictable cold snap crippled the Texas power grid 2

By Tim McLaughlin and Stephanie Kelly

(Reuters) – As Texans cranked up their heaters early Monday to combat plunging temperatures, a record surge of electricity demand set off a disastrous chain reaction in the state’s power grid.

Wind turbines in the state’s northern Panhandle locked up. Natural gas plants shut down when frozen pipes and components shut off fuel flow. A South Texas nuclear reactor went dark after a five-foot section of uninsulated pipe seized up. Power outages quickly spread statewide – leaving millions shivering in their homes for days, with deadly consequences.

It could have been far worse: Before dawn on Monday, the state’s grid operator was “seconds and minutes” away from an uncontrolled blackout for its 26 million customers, its CEO has said. Such a collapse occurs when operators lose the ability to manage the crisis through rolling blackouts; in such cases, it can take weeks or months to fully restore power to customers.

Monday was one of the state’s coldest days in more than a century – but the unprecedented power crisis was hardly unpredictable after Texas had experienced a similar, though less severe, disruption during a 2011 cold snap. Still, Texas power producers failed to adequately winter-proof their systems. And the state’s grid operator underestimated its need for reserve power capacity before the crisis, then moved too slowly to tell utilities to institute rolling blackouts to protect against a grid meltdown, energy analysts, traders and economists said.

Early signs of trouble came long before the forced outages. Two days earlier, for example, the grid suddenly lost 539 megawatts (MW) of power, or enough electricity for nearly 108,000 homes, according to operational messages disclosed by the state’s primary grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

The crisis stemmed from a unique confluence of weaknesses in the state’s power system.

Texas is the only state in the continental United States with an independent and isolated grid. That allows the state to avoid federal regulation – but also severely limits its ability to draw emergency power from other grids. ERCOT also operates the only major U.S. grid that does not have a capacity market – a system that provides payments to operators to be on standby to supply power during severe weather events.

After more than 3 million ERCOT customers lost power in a February 2011 freeze, federal regulators recommended that ERCOT prepare for winter with the same urgency as it does the peak summer season. They also said that, while ERCOT’s reserve power capacity looked good on paper, it did not take into account that many generation units could get knocked offline by freezing weather.

“There were prior severe cold weather events in the Southwest in 1983, 1989, 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2010,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and North American Electric Reliability Corp staff summarized after investigating the state’s 2011 rolling blackouts. “Extensive generator failures overwhelmed ERCOT’s reserves, which eventually dropped below the level of safe operation.”

ERCOT spokeswoman Leslie Sopko did not comment in detail about the causes of the power crisis but said the grid’s leadership plans to re-evaluate the assumptions that go into its forecasts.

The freeze was easy to see coming, said Jay Apt, co-director of the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center.

“When I read that this was a black-swan event, I just have to wonder whether the folks who are saying that have been in this business long enough that they forgot everything, or just came into it,” Apt said. “People need to recognize that this sort of weather is pretty common.”

This week’s cold snap left 4.5 million ERCOT customers without power. More than 14.5 million Texans endured a related water-supply crisis as pipes froze and burst. About 65,000 customers remained without power as of Saturday afternoon, even as temperatures started to rise, according to website PowerOutage.US.

State health officials have linked more than two dozen deaths to the power crisis. Some died from hypothermia or possible carbon monoxide poisoning caused by portable generators running in basements and garages without enough ventilation. Officials say they suspect the death count will rise as more bodies are discovered.

THIN POWER RESERVE

In the central Texas city of Austin, the state capital, the minimum February temperature usually falls between 42 and 48 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 9 degrees Celsius). This past week, temperatures fell as low as 6 degrees Fahrenheit (-14 degrees Celsius).

In November, ERCOT assured that the grid was prepared to handle such a dire scenario.

“We studied a range of potential risks under both normal and extreme conditions, and believe there is sufficient generation to adequately serve our customers,” said ERCOT’s manager of resource adequacy, Pete Warnken, in a report that month.

Warnken could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Under normal winter conditions, ERCOT forecast it would have about 16,200 MW of power reserves. But under extreme conditions, it predicted a reserve cushion of only about 1,350 MW. That assumed only 23,500 MW of generation outages. During the peak of this week’s crisis, more than 30,000 MW was forced off the grid.

Other U.S. grid operators maintain a capacity market to supply extra power in extreme conditions – paying operators on an ongoing basis, whether they produce power or not. Capacity market auctions determine, three years in advance, the price that power generators receive in exchange for being on emergency standby.

Instead, ERCOT relies on a wholesale electricity market, where free market pricing provides incentives for generators to provide daily power and to make investments to ensure reliability in peak periods, according to economists. The system relied on the theory that power plants should make high profits when energy demand and prices soar – providing them ample money to make investments in, for example, winterization. The Texas legislature restructured the state’s electric market in 1999.

LOOMING CRISIS

Since 2010, ERCOT’s reserve margin – the buffer between generation capacity versus forecasted demand – has dropped to about 10% from about 20%. This has put pressure on generators during demand spikes, making the grid less flexible, according to North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a nonprofit regulator.

That thin margin for error set off alarms early Monday morning among energy traders and analysts as they watched a sudden drop in the electrical frequency of the Texas grid. One analyst compared it to watching the pulse of a hospital patient drop to life-threatening levels.

Too much of a drop is catastrophic because it would trigger automatic relay switches to disconnect power sources from the grid, setting off uncontrolled blackouts statewide. Dan Jones, an energy analyst at Monterey LLC, watched from his home office in Delaware as the grid’s frequency dropped quickly toward the point that would trigger the automatic shutdowns.

“If you’re not in control, and you are letting the equipment do it, that’s just chaos,” Jones said.

By Sunday afternoon about 3:15 p.m. (CST), ERCOT’s control room signaled it had run out of options to boost electric generation to match the soaring demand. Operators issued a warning that there was “no market solution” for the projected shortage, according to control room messages published by ERCOT on its website.

Adam Sinn, president of Houston-based energy trading firm Aspire Commodities, said ERCOT waited far too long to start telling utilities to cut customers’ power to guard against a grid meltdown. The problems, he said, were readily apparent several days before Monday.

“ERCOT was letting the system get weaker and weaker and weaker,” Sinn said in an interview. “I was thinking: Holy shit, what is this grid operator doing? He has to cut load.”

Sinn said he started texting his friends on Sunday night, warning them to expect widespread outages.

‘SECONDS AND MINUTES’

Early Monday morning, one of the largest sources of electricity in the state – the unit 1 reactor at the South Texas Nuclear Generating Station – stopped producing power after the small section of pipe froze in temperatures that averaged 17 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius). The grid lost access to 1,350 MW of nuclear power – enough to power about 270,000 homes – after automatic sensors detected the frozen pipe and protectively shut down the reactor, said Victor Dricks, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

About 2:30 a.m. (CST), the South Plains Electric Cooperative in Lubbock said it received a phone call from ERCOT to cut power to its customers. Inside the ERCOT control room, staff members scrambled to call utilities and cooperatives statewide to tell them to do the same, according to operational messages disclosed by the grid operator.

Three days later, ERCOT Chief Executive Bill Magness acknowledged that the grid operator had only narrowly avoided the calamity of uncontrolled blackouts.

“If we hadn’t taken action,” he said on Thursday, “it was seconds and minutes (away), given the amount of generation that was coming off the system at the same time that the demand was still going up.”

(Reporting by Tim McLaughlin and Stephanie Kelly; additional reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Simon Webb and Brian Thevenot)

Continue Reading

Top Stories

UK could declare Brexit ‘water wars’ – The Telegraph

Published

on

UK could declare Brexit 'water wars' - The Telegraph 3

(Reuters) – Britain could restrict imports of European mineral water and several food products under retaliatory measures being considered by ministers over Brussels’ refusal to end its blockade on British shellfish, the Telegraph reported.

Senior government sources pointed to potential restrictions on the importing of mineral water and seed potatoes, the report said.

(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Continue Reading
Editorial & Advertiser disclosureOur website provides you with information, news, press releases, Opinion and advertorials on various financial products and services. This is not to be considered as financial advice and should be considered only for information purposes. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any information provided with respect to your individual or personal circumstances. Please seek Professional advice from a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. We link to various third party websites, affiliate sales networks, and may link to our advertising partners websites. Though we are tied up with various advertising and affiliate networks, this does not affect our analysis or opinion. When you view or click on certain links available on our articles, our partners may compensate us for displaying the content to you, or make a purchase or fill a form. This will not incur any additional charges to you. To make things simpler for you to identity or distinguish sponsored articles or links, you may consider all articles or links hosted on our site as a partner endorsed link.

Call For Entries

Global Banking and Finance Review Awards Nominations 2021
2021 Awards now open. Click Here to Nominate

Latest Articles

Former Bank of England Governor Carney joins board of digital payments company Stripe 4 Former Bank of England Governor Carney joins board of digital payments company Stripe 5
Finance5 hours ago

Former Bank of England Governor Carney joins board of digital payments company Stripe

By Kanishka Singh (Reuters) – Mark Carney, former head of the UK and Canadian central banks, has joined the board...

Airbus CEO urges trade war ceasefire, easing of COVID travel bans 6 Airbus CEO urges trade war ceasefire, easing of COVID travel bans 7
Top Stories5 hours ago

Airbus CEO urges trade war ceasefire, easing of COVID travel bans

By Tim Hepher PARIS (Reuters) – The head of European planemaker Airbus called on Saturday for a “ceasefire” in a...

Why a predictable cold snap crippled the Texas power grid 8 Why a predictable cold snap crippled the Texas power grid 9
Top Stories5 hours ago

Why a predictable cold snap crippled the Texas power grid

By Tim McLaughlin and Stephanie Kelly (Reuters) – As Texans cranked up their heaters early Monday to combat plunging temperatures,...

UK could declare Brexit 'water wars' - The Telegraph 10 UK could declare Brexit 'water wars' - The Telegraph 11
Top Stories5 hours ago

UK could declare Brexit ‘water wars’ – The Telegraph

(Reuters) – Britain could restrict imports of European mineral water and several food products under retaliatory measures being considered by...

Commerzbank to lose 1.7 million clients by 2024 - Welt am Sonntag 12 Commerzbank to lose 1.7 million clients by 2024 - Welt am Sonntag 13
Banking5 hours ago

Commerzbank to lose 1.7 million clients by 2024 – Welt am Sonntag

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Commerzbank expects to lose 1.7 million customers by 2024 as part of its current restructuring, resulting in...

Bitcoin and ethereum prices 'seem high,' says Musk 14 Bitcoin and ethereum prices 'seem high,' says Musk 15
Top Stories5 hours ago

Bitcoin and ethereum prices ‘seem high,’ says Musk

(Reuters) – Billionaire CEO Elon Musk said on Saturday the price of bitcoin and ethereum seemed high, at a time...

Sunak to raise business tax to pay for COVID-19 support - The Sunday Times 16 Sunak to raise business tax to pay for COVID-19 support - The Sunday Times 17
Business5 hours ago

Sunak to raise business tax to pay for COVID-19 support – The Sunday Times

(Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak is set to increase a tax on business to pay for an extension...

FTSE Russell to include 11 stocks from China's STAR Market in global benchmarks 18 FTSE Russell to include 11 stocks from China's STAR Market in global benchmarks 19
Trading1 day ago

FTSE Russell to include 11 stocks from China’s STAR Market in global benchmarks

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Index provider FTSE Russell will add 11 stocks from China’s STAR Market to its global benchmarks, according...

Foxconn chairman says expects "limited impact" from chip shortage on clients 20 Foxconn chairman says expects "limited impact" from chip shortage on clients 21
Business1 day ago

Foxconn chairman says expects “limited impact” from chip shortage on clients

TAIPEI (Reuters) – The chairman of Apple Inc supplier Foxconn said on Saturday he expects his company and its clients...

Bitcoin, ether hit fresh highs 22 Bitcoin, ether hit fresh highs 23
Top Stories1 day ago

Bitcoin, ether hit fresh highs

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Bitcoin hit a fresh high in Asian trading on Saturday, extending a two-month rally that saw its...

Newsletters with Secrets & Analysis. Subscribe Now