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More efficient credit portfolio engineering can increase the decision-making power of bankers and boost the market value of their banks. By implementing robust risk management procedures, bankers can develop comprehensive views of obligors by integrating fundamental and market data into a portfolio framework that treats all instruments similarly. Banks that can implement strategies for uncovering credit risk investments with the highest return per unit of risk can confidently ...
More efficient credit portfolio engineering can increase the decision-making power of bankers and boost the market value of their banks. By implementing robust risk management procedures, bankers can develop comprehensive views of obligors by integrating fundamental and market data into a portfolio framework that treats all instruments similarly. Banks that can implement strategies for uncovering credit risk investments with the highest return per unit of risk can confidently build their businesses.
Through chapters on fundamental analysis and credit administration, authors Morton Glantz and Johnathan Mun teach readers how to improve their credit skills and develop logical decision-making processes. As readers acquire new abilities to calculate risks and evaluate portfolios, they learn how credit risk strategies and policies can affect and be affected by credit ratings and global exposure tracking systems. The result is a book that facilitates the discipline of market-oriented portfolio management in the face of unending changes in the financial industry.
Chapter Outline Management 5 Business Operations 5 Company Information 5 Industry Information 6 Management Basics 6 Bank Relationship 7 Financial Reporting 8 Intention (Purpose) 8 Repayment 9 Internal Repayment Sources: Short-Term Loans 9 External Repayment Sources: Short-Term Loans 11 Internal Repayment Sources: Long-Term Loans 12 External Repayment Sources: Long-Term Loans 13 Safeguards 13 Collateral 14 Guarantees 14 Covenants 14 Perspective 15
Unlike Mark Twain's cat that once sat on a hot stove lid and would never again sit even on a warm one, bankers should always be careful to get from an experience just the wisdom that is in it—no more, no less. Banks need a sense of caution in a liberal credit environment, but they also need the courage and wisdom to take reasonable risks when credit is tight. Financial institutions succeed as long as the risks they assume are prudent and within defined parameters of portfolio objectives. Policies and procedures should be in place that ensure that exposures are properly identified, monitored, and controlled, and that safeguards against nonperformance or default match the risk levels to which banks commit.
By and large, bank failures are caused by lax credit standards, ineffectual portfolio risk policies, and risks taken in excess of capital constraints. In addition, blame is due to lenders who neglect technological advances in the field. While recent bank failures owe much to the collapse of the housing market, sloppy lending practices contributed to it at least in part—that is, in spite of regulators' dire warnings of the consequences slack underwriting standards would have in the wake of sharp industry/economic meltdowns. As it turned out, liberal credit came on the heels of a robust economy, intense competition to turn deals, pursuit of the bottom line, and the misguided notion that good things—capital adequacy in particular—last forever. Credit meltdown can be something of a paradox, given that regulators have always championed sound, diversified credit portfolios and formal credit evaluation and approval processes—procedures whereby approvals are made in accordance with written guidelines and granted by appropriate levels of management. There also should be a clear audit trail confirming that the approval process was complied with, identifying line lenders and/or committee(s) influencing (lending) decisions or actually making the credit decision.
It turned out that the banks that experienced such failures often lacked adequate credit review processes. Solid, tight credit reviews not only help detect poorly underwritten credits, but they largely prevent weak proposals from being approved since credit officers are likely to be more diligent if they know their work will be subject to review. An effective evaluation process establishes minimum requirements for the information on which the analysis is to be based. There should be policies in place regarding the information and documentation needed to approve new credits, renew existing credits, and/or change the terms and conditions of previously approved credits. The information received will be the basis for any internal evaluation or rating assigned to the credit, and its accuracy and adequacy is critical to management making appropriate judgments about the acceptability of the credit.
The review process starts with a comprehensive appraisal of the obligor's creditworthiness, calling for a thorough understanding of the strength and quality of an obligor's cash flows and capital structure. Credit analysis is multifaceted. It blends traditional core assessment with quantitative processes: incorporating historical-based models, forward-looking models (the theme of this book), and fundamental analysis. Both historical and forward-looking analytics are integral to gaining an understanding of risks but used in isolation, they are weak tools. To improve the credit analysis process and to understand an obligor's business, we blend historical and projection analyses with qualitative factors brought to the fore by a well-organized and insightful credit analysis covering sustainability and quality of cash flows, debt capacity, asset quality, valuation growth drivers, management, and industry. Management issues such as strategic direction and execution, optimal capital structure, accounting methodologies, aptitude for innovation, labor relations, management changes, and experience go a long way in defining credit quality.
The credit review process lies at the core of PRISM, an acronym for perspective, repayment, intention, safeguards, and management. In this chapter, we begin our examination of the PRISM components with management, which centers on the big picture: what the borrower is all about, including history and prospects. Next we cover intention, or loan purpose, which serves as the basis for repayment. Repayment focuses on internal and external sources of cash. Internal operations and asset sales produce internal cash, whereas new debt and/or equity injections provide external cash sources. We learn how conversion of balance sheet temporary assets provides the primary payment source of short-term loans, while long-term loans are paid from internally generated cash flow. Safeguards, likewise, have internal and external sources: Internal safeguards originate from the quality and soundness of financial statements, while collateral guarantees and loan covenants provide external safeguards. We consider perspective, which pulls together the deal's risks and rewards, and the operating and financing strategies that are broad enough to have a positive impact on shareholder value while enabling the borrower to repay loans. Finally, bankers render a decision and price the deal.
Certain business attributes provide bankers with an image of their borrowers. These qualities result from several factors: the number of years a firm has been in business, reputation and performance record, and, of course, willingness and ability to repay debt. Longevity means staying power and is very important to customers, vendors, competitive markets, and financing sources. Long business life also imparts reputation and, for some, that is the most important attribute of all. In this context, past performance is a good indicator of future success. We begin the information flow with gathering company and industry information.
PRISM: MANAGEMENT 1. Business Operations 2. Management 3. Bank Relationship 4. Financial Reporting
History of the business, including any predecessor companies, changes in capital structure, present capitalization, and any insolvency proceedings.
Description of products, markets, principal customers, subsidiaries, and lines of business.
Recent product changes and technological innovation.
Customer growth, energy availability, and possible ecological problems.
List of the company's principal suppliers, together with approximate annual amounts purchased, noting delinquencies in settlement of suppliers' accounts.
Market segmentation by customer type, geographic location, product, distribution channels, pricing policy, and degree of integration.
Strategic goals and track record meeting or missing goals.
Number and types of customers broken down by percentage of sales/profit contribution. Note the extent the borrower is overdependent on one or a few customers.
Capital equipment requirements and commitments.
Industry composition and, in particular, recent changes in that composition. Image of the company and its products and services compared to industry leaders.
Number of firms included in the industry and whether that number has been declining or increasing.
Borrower's market share and recent trends.
Recent industry merger, acquisition, and divestiture activities, along with prices paid for these transactions.
Recent foreign entrants.
Suppliers' versus buyers' power.
Bases of competition.
Industry's rate of business failure.
Industry's average bond rating.
Degree of operating leverage inherent in the industry.
Industry reliance on exports and degree of vulnerability.
Names of the bank industry specialists whom you should contact for help in developing projections and other industry analysis.
Trade organizations, consultants, economists, and security analysts who can help you with forecasts.
Adverse conditions reported by financial, investment, or industry analysts.
Extent that litigation might affect production of or demand for the industry's products (case in point, Firestone Tires).
The effects of government regulations and environmental issues on the industry.
If publicly traded, the exchanges on which the stock is traded, the dealer-making markets for over-the-counter stock, institutional holdings, trading volume, and total market capitalization.
For additional information, the banker typically examines details of company operations. Each type of business has its own idiosyncrasies that set it apart from other industries. How economically sensitive is the business to new products, competitors, interest rates, and disposable income? How has the borrower fared in good markets as well as bad when benchmarked against the rest of the industry? Is the company seasonal?
Banks need to understand to whom they are granting credit. Therefore, prior to entering into any new credit relationship, a bank must become familiar with the borrower or counterparty and be confident that it is dealing with an individual or organization of sound repute and creditworthiness. In particular, strict policies must be in place to avoid association with individuals involved in fraudulent activities and other crimes. This can be achieved through a number of ways, including asking for references from known parties, accessing credit registries, becoming familiar with the individuals responsible for managing a company, and checking their personal references and financial condition. However, a bank should not grant credit simply because the borrower or counterparty is familiar to the bank or is perceived to be highly reputable.
Who are the key players and what contributions are they making? It's a good idea to prepare a brief biographical summary for each senior manager so you are better able to evaluate overall management philosophy. The human factor in decision making is hugely significant, and because it is, a single error in judgment can mean serious and unpredictable problems.
Integrity deals with communication as well. Since the majority of information comes from management, lenders must have confidence in that information. The amount and quality of information you obtain from management will depend on the deal's requirements and, of course, information that management is willing to supply. Keep this simple rule in mind: The lower the credit grade, the more information management is asked to supply. Think about the following:
List of officers and directors, along with affiliations, ages, and number of years in office.
Names, addresses, and contacts of the company's professional advisers, including attorneys, auditors, principal bankers at other banks, and investment bankers.
Number of people employed and major areas of activity.
Strategies management is using to increase market share and profitability.
The intelligence demonstrated in taking advantage of changes in the marketplace and environment.
Overview of management's problem-solving and decision-making abilities, and whether the right decisions are made at the appropriate level.
Management's basic philosophy—for example, is management entrepreneurial?
The work environment.
How management and subordinates work as an effective team. Management can be smoothly intergraded or crisis prone.
Ratio of officer salaries to net revenues (Robert Morris Statement Studies). Is compensation reasonable when compared to results?
Determine if executives prevent problems from arising or use valuable time to work out the same problems over and over.
The reputation of present owners, directors, management, and professional advisers gathered from industry journals, periodicals, and a good Internet browsing.
Adequacy of quantitative and statistical information, including strategic and tactical plans, effective policies and procedures, adequate management information systems, budgetary control and responsibility accounting, standards of performance and control, and management and manpower development.
Obtain an organization chart and business plans, both short-term and long-range.
Evaluate if business objectives and strategies are well thought out and represent genuine management tools or if they have been presented for show.
If the relationship is an existing one, how solid has it been? Obviously, a loyal customer with a strong history receives better treatment than someone who walks through the door for the first time.
Naturally, banks evaluate the accounting firms that are preparing the financial statements. Reputation is important. Are the financials liberal or conservative? Do they provide an accurate picture of the borrower's condition? Here are a few good pointers:
Obtain audited financial statements, including registration statements (if they exist) and comparative financial results by major division.
Procure recent unaudited quarterly statements, including sales backlog information and a description of accounting practices.
If you can obtain them, secure tax returns for the last five years, IRS reports, and schedules of unused loss and investment credit carryforwards.
Ask the client to submit projected operating and financial statements.
Obtain any SEC filings and a shareholder list, if available.
Form an opinion about the overall credibility and reliability of financial reporting. Check if an independent accounting firm audited the books, and investigate the accountant's reputation.
Check bank records. Auditors who submitted falsified reports on other deals will end up in the database.
Review the adequacy and sophistication of the client's internal auditing systems.
Find out what the auditor's major recent findings were and the company's disposition of those findings. Determine to whom the internal auditing department reports.
Assess the adequacy of internal accounting controls along with the company's attitude toward strong controls, making sure of the extent earnings were managed. Assess the strength of the financial management and controllership function.
Determine how often internal reports are issued, how soon after the end of the period the reports are available and if they are used, and whether the internal reporting timetable and content are consistent with the auditor's monthly closing requirements.
Find out whether subsidiaries have autonomous accounting departments that may not be functioning uniformly and, if so, how overall control is exercised.
Check to see if long-range plans reflect competitive reactions and include alternative strategies.
Check if objectives are described so achievement can be monitored.
"Banks must operate under sound, well-defined credit-granting criteria. These criteria should include a thorough understanding of the borrower or counterparty, as well as the purpose and structure of the credit, and its source of repayment." First, pin down what the loan's real intention is-whether it is real as opposed to fanciful. "Fanciful" is what troubled clients offer as the reason they would like the bank to believe, and such intentions may be flat-out fabrications. Second, be aware that behind intention are three reasons why firms borrow. The first deals with asset purchases-short term, to support seasonality, and long term, to support growth. Loans to acquire seasonal assets are repaid once inventory is worked down and receivables collected. Long-term loans support fixed-asset purchases along with nonseasonal current assets.
Excerpted from Credit Engineering for Bankers by Morton Glantz Johnathan Mun Copyright © 2011 by Elsevier Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Academic Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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PART ONE: NEW APPROACHES TO FUNDAMENTAL ANALYSIS
PART TWO: CREDIT ADMINISTRATION