65% Top Banks 'Back to Business'

By Gurmukh Singh 

Toronto, April 13 (IANS) In a cheering news for the financial world, two-thirds of the world's top banks say they are back to business as usual after the global economic meltdown.

In a survey of 62 global banks by Ernst & Young for the Institute of International Finance (IIF), 65 percent said they were "back to business" and 32 percent said they were still 'recovering.' Just three percent said they "still struggling" to get out of the crisis.

Apart from India's ICICI Bank, Citigroup, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, ING, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS, Standard Chartered Bank, Bank of China and all top five Canadian banks - Scotiabank, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce - were among other banks that took part in the survey by the Washington-based IIF which represents 400 financial institutions worldwide.

While 50 percent banks said they were "severely impacted" by the economic crisis, 32 percent said the crisis had "moderate impact" on them. Only 20 percent reported 'low impact' on their operations.

While most banks said that the downturn is behind them and that the economy is showing signs of recovery in most parts of the world, they said they are "still apprehensive about the continued volatility of the markets".

In fact, more than 33 percent said "fluid market factors" were their top concern, adding that "the uncertain market environment is making business planning and decision making - both short and longer term - extremely difficult. Volatility and uncertainty have increased since the survey was conducted because of the political unrest in the Middle East and the tragic earthquake and aftermath in Japan."

Referring to management style changes after the crisis, about 83 percent reported "increased board oversight of risk."

About 92 percent said they have 'changed approaches to liquidity risk management,' and 82 percent have 'instituted more rigorous internal pricing.'

Over 96 percent said there should be 'increased focus on risk appetite' after the crisis.

In a statement, the FII said the financial industry has put in place wide-ranging programs to address weaknesses in risk management, including governance, incentives and risk measurement.

It said US and European banks which sustained the most substantial losses in the crisis, have launched the most aggressive programs and banks felt that substantial progress has been made.

"However, this is a journey and the reforms although well underway will take time to complete,'' Ernst & Young said.


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