Roundtable ‘Climate Scenario Design & Stress Testing’ recap

August 2023
9 min read

On Thursday 15 June 2023, Zanders hosted a roundtable on ‘Climate Scenario Design & Stress Testing’. This article discusses our view on the topic and highlights key insights from the roundtable. 

On Thursday 15 June 2023, Zanders hosted a roundtable on ‘Climate Scenario Design & Stress Testing’. In our head office in Utrecht, we welcomed risk managers from several Dutch banks. This article discusses our view on the topic and highlights key insights from the roundtable. 

In recent years, many banks took their first steps in the integration of climate and environmental (C&E) risks into their risk management frameworks. The initial work on climate-related risk modeling often took the form of scenario analysis and stress testing. For example, as part of the Internal Capital Adequacy Assessment Process (ICAAP) or by participating in the 2022 Climate Stress Test by the European Central Bank (ECB). To comply with the ECB’s expectations on C&E risks, banks are actively exploring methodologies and data sources for adequate climate scenario design and stress testing. The ECB requires that banks will meet their expectations on this topic by 31 December 2024. 

Our view

We believe that banks should start early with climate stress testing, but in a manageable and pragmatic way. Banks can then improve their methodologies and extend their scope over time. This allows for a gradual development of knowledge, data and methodologies within all relevant Risk teams. Zanders has identified the following steps in the process of climate scenario design and stress testing: 

  • Step 1: Scenario selection 
    A bank has to select appropriate (climate) scenarios based on the bank’s climate risk materiality assessment. Important to consider in this phase is the purpose for which the scenarios will be used, whether the scenarios are in line with scientific pathways, and whether they account for different policy outcomes (like an early or late transition to a sustainable economy). 
  • Step 2: Scope and variable definition 
    An appropriate scope must then be selected and appropriate variables defined. For example, banks need to determine which portfolios to take in scope, which time horizons to include, select the granularity of the output, the right level of stress, and which climate- and macro-economic variables to consider. 
  • Step 3: Methodology 
    Then, the bank needs to develop methodologies to calculate the impact of the scenarios. There are no one-size-fits-all approaches and often a combination of different qualitative and quantitative methodologies is needed. We recommend that the climate stress test approach be initially simple and to focus on material exposures. 
  • Step 4: Results 
    It is important to use the results of the scenario analysis in the relevant risk and business processes. The results can be used for the bank’s risk appetite and strategy. The results can also help to create awareness and understanding among internal stakeholders, and support external disclosures and compliance. 
  • Step 5: Stress testing framework 
    Finally, banks should establish minimum standards for climate scenario design and stress testing. This framework should include, amongst others, policies and processes for data collection from different sources, how adequate knowledge and resources are ensured, and how the scenarios are kept up-to-date with the latest market developments. 

Key insights 

Prior to the roundtable, participants filled in a survey related to the progress, scope and challenges on climate risk stress testing. The key insights presented below are based on the results of this survey, together with the outcomes of the discussion thereafter. 

The financial sector has advanced with several aspects around integrating climate risks in risk management over the past year. This was recognized by all participants, as they had all performed some form of climate risk stress testing. The scope of the stress testing, however, was relatively limited in some cases. For example, all participants considered credit risk in their climate risk scenario with many also including market risk. Only a limited number of participants took other risk types into account. 

Furthermore, all participants assessed the short-term impact (up to 3 years) of the climate scenarios, whereas only around 40% and 10% assessed the impact on the medium term (3 to 10 years) and long term (>10 years), respectively. This is probably related to the fact that all participants used climate scenarios in their ICAAP, which typically covers a three-year horizon. The second most mentioned use for the climate scenarios, after the ICAAP, was the risk identification & materiality analysis. A smaller percentage of participants also used the climate scenarios for business strategy setting, ILAAP and portfolio management. 

The two topics that were unanimously mentioned as the main challenges in climate risk stress testing are data selection and gathering, and the quantification of climate risks into financial impacts, as shown in the graph below: 

  • Insight 1: Assessing impact of climate risk beyond the short-term very much increases the complexity and uncertainty of the exercise 
    The participants indicated that climate stress testing beyond the short-term horizon (beyond 3 to 5 years) is very difficult. Beyond that horizon, the complexity of the (climate) scenarios increases materially due to uncertainties of clients’ transition plans, the bank’s own transition plan and climate strategy (e.g., related to pricing and client acceptance policies), and climate policies and actions from governments and regulators. Taking the transition plans of clients into account on a granular level is especially difficult when there is a large number of counterparties. There are no clear solutions to this. Some ideas that take longer-term effects into account were floated, such as adjusting the current valuation of various assets by translating future climate impact on assets into a net present value of impact or by taking climate impacts into account in the long-term macro-economic scenarios of IFRS9 models. 
  • Insight 2: Whether to use a top-down or bottom-up approach depends on the circumstances 
    It was discussed whether a bottom-up stress test for climate scenarios is preferable to a top-down stress test. The consensus was that this depends on the circumstances, for example: 
    • Physical risks are asset- and location-specific; one street may flood but not the next. So, in that case a bottom-up assessment may be necessary for a more granular approach. On the other hand, for transition risks, less granularity might be sufficient as transition policies are defined on national or even supranational level, and trends and developments often materialize on sector-level. In those cases, a top-down type of analysis could be sufficient. 
    • If the climate stress test is used to get a general overview of where risks are concentrated, a top-down analysis may be appropriate. However, if it is used to steer clients, a more granular, bottom-up approach may be needed. 
    • A bottom-up approach could also be more suitable for longer-term scenarios as it allows to include counterparty-specific transition plans. For more short-term scenarios, a sector average may be sufficient, considering that there will be less transition during this period.
  • Insight 3: Translating the results of climate risk stress testing into concrete actions is challenging 
    The results of the stress test can be used to further integrate climate risk into risk management processes such as materiality assessment, risk appetite, pricing, and client acceptance. Most participants, however, were still hesitant to link any binding actions to the results, such as setting risk limits (e.g., limiting exposures to a certain sector), adjusting client acceptance, or amending pricing policies. However, the ECB does require banks to consider climate impacts in these processes. The most mentioned uses of the climate risk stress testing results were risk identification & materiality assessments and risk monitoring.  


Most banks have taken first steps in relation to climate scenario design and stress testing. However, many challenges still remain, for example around data selection and quantification methodologies. Efforts by banks, regulators and the market in general are required to overcome these challenges. 

Zanders has already supported several banks with climate scenario design and stress testing. This includes the creation of a climate scenario design framework, the definition of climate scenarios, and by quantifying climate risk impacts for the ICAAP. Next to that, we have performed research on modeling approaches that can be used to quantify the impact of transition and physical risks. If you are interested to know how we can help your organization with this, please reach out to Marije Wiersma.

Increase confidence in your organization with proactive fraud prevention measures

March 2023
3 min read

Financial institutions spend billions per year in their fight against fraud.

With every improvement, fraudsters look for and find new opportunities to exploit. When the opportunity arises, some people see a big incentive or pressure to commit fraud, and most will be able to justify to themselves why it is acceptable to commit fraud (as shown in the Fraud triangle – Figure 1). Unfortunately, the impact of fraud on organizations, individuals and society in general is substantial.

In a recent report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), Occupational Fraud 2022: A report to the nations, it is estimated that organizations lose about 5% of their revenue each year due to employees committing fraud against their employer. It is estimated that more than USD 4.7 trillion is lost worldwide to occupational fraud.  Of these, most cases were identified through a tip to a hotline and most were not detected until 12 to 18 months later. The longer the fraud was undetected, the higher the loss. But organizations do not only fight fraud internally; external threats are also on the rise. As businesses evolve and processes are automated and digitalized, fraud activities become much more complex.

Data and modeling approach to fraud prevention

To effectively prevent fraud, it first needs to be identified. Traditionally, employees are trained to identify anomalies or inconsistencies in their daily work environment. It is still crucial that your employees know what to look for and how to spot suspicious activities. But due to the complexities and vast amounts of information available, and because fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated, it becomes much more difficult to determine whether a potential customer is a fraudster or a real client.

The good news is that digitalization and increased data availability provides the opportunity for data analytics. It is important to note here that it does not completely replace your current processes; it should be used in addition to your traditional prevention and/or detection methods to be more effective to proactively identify and prevent fraud in your organization.

Benefits of data analytics

Traditionally, sampling was done on a population to test for fraud instances, but this may not be as effective because it only looks at a small population. Because fraud numbers reported usually being small (but with a large monetary impact), it is possible to overlook valuable insights if only samples of populations are investigated. Ideally, all data should be included to identify trends and potential fraudulent activities, and with data analytics that is possible. By analyzing large amounts of data, organizations can identify patterns and trends that may indicate fraudulent activity. It can help to improve the accuracy of fraud detection systems, as they can be trained to recognize these patterns.

Data analytics can increase efficiency by reducing false positives and false negatives and assists organizations to automate parts of the fraud detection processes, which can save time and resources. This allows the business to focus on other important strategic objectives and tasks such as customer service and product development.

By using data analytics to identify and prevent fraudulent activity, organizations can help to protect their customers against financial losses and other harm. Customer trust and loyalty are built when organizations show they are serious about the welfare and safety of their customers.

Detecting and preventing fraud

Reality is that preventing fraud upfront or in an early stage is much more economical and beneficial than having to detect fraud after the fact, as investigations are time-consuming and the fraud is not always easy to proof in court. Moreover, by the time it is detected, a loss may have already been incurred. Using data analytics to identify fraudsters and fraudulent activities earlier, can protect the bottom line by reducing financial losses and improving the organization’s overall financial performance.

By using analytics to detect and prevent fraud, organizations can demonstrate to regulatory bodies that they are taking compliance seriously. Reporting suspicious transactions and activities to regulatory bodies is a key component of complying with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing legislation, and analytics can assist with identifying these transactions and activities more effectively.

Data analytics can be used to prevent fraud at onboarding, detect it in the existing customer base, and to make your operational processes more efficient. More specifically, data analytics can be used and leveraged as follows:

  • Identifying outlier trends and hidden patterns can highlight areas and/or transactions that are more vulnerable to fraud.
  • Automating identification of exceptions removes manual intervention and makes the identification criteria more consistent.
  • Traditional physical reviews using limited resources to investigate is time-consuming. Data analytics can be used to prioritize the ones with the highest impact and risk, e.g. investigate the suspicious transactions with the highest value first.
  • Combining data from different data sources to feed into a model provides a more holistic view of a customer or scenario than looking at individual transactions or applications in isolation.
  • Both structured and unstructured data can be used to prevent and detect fraud.
  • Fraud propensity model scoring can run automatically and generate results to be reviewed and investigated in real-time or near real-time.
  • Analyzing relationships between various entities and customers using Social Network Analysis (SNA). Traditionally, networks/links were identified by the investigator while building a case. By using analytics, less time is needed to identify these relationships. Also, it identifies valuable links previously unknown, as additional levels of relationships can be examined.
  • Specific modus operandi identified by the organization’s internal fraud team can be translated into data models to automate identification of similar cases. (See Case study below)
  • Applying a fraud model to the organization’s bad debt book can assist with your collections strategy. Fraudsters never intended to pay and focusing your collection efforts on them wastes time and valuable resources. Most efforts should be on those cases where money can be collected.

Case study

The Zanders data analytics team has experience with applying data analytics within a company to identify customers who create synthetic profiles at point of application. By working closely with investigators, a model was developed in which one out of every three applications referred for investigation was classified as fraudulent.

The benefit of introducing analytics was twofold – from an onboarding- and existing customer point of view. The number of fraudsters identified before onboarding increased, preventing (potential) losses. Using the positive identified frauds at point of application, and checking the profile against the existing book, helped to identify areas that were more vulnerable where investigation should be prioritized.

The project proved that:

  • Data analytics is valuable and combining it with insights from the operational teams is powerful.
  • The buy-in from the stakeholders made the model more effective. If the team investigating the alert does not trust the model or does not know what to look for, there will be resistance in investigating the alerts.
  • Taking your internal fraud team on a data and analytics journey is a must. They need to understand the impact that their decisions and captured outcomes can have on future models.
  • Challenges with false positives (within business appetite and investigation capacity) are a reality, but having a model is better than searching for a needle in a haystack. Learning from the results and outcomes of the investigations, even if they were false positives, will enhance your next model.
  • One size does not fit all. Fraud models need to be tailored to the business’ needs.


While using data analytics to identify fraudulent activities is an investment, organizations need to outweigh the benefit of incorporating data analytics in their current processes against the potential losses. Fraud not only results in monetary losses, it can lead to reputational damage and have an impact on the organization’s market share as customers will not do business with an organization where they don’t feel protected. Your customers also expect great customer service and implementing proactive fraud prevention measures increases confidence in your organization.

How can Zanders help your organization?

Did you find this article helpful but do you still have questions or need additional assistance? Our team of experts is ready to assist you in finding the solutions you need. Please feel free to reach out to us to discuss your needs in more detail. Whether you’re looking for advice on a specific project or just need someone to exchange ideas with, we are here to assis

Are climate change risks properly captured in the prudential framework?

February 2023
3 min read

Financial institutions spend billions per year in their fight against fraud.

More simply put, the EBA was asked to investigate whether the current prudential framework properly captures environmental and social risks. In response, the EBA published a Discussion Paper (DP) [1] in May 2022 to collect input from stakeholders such as academia and banking professionals.

After briefly presenting the DP, this article reviews the current Pillar 1 Capital (P1C) requirements. We limit ourselves to the P1C requirements for credit risk as this is by far the largest risk type for banks. Furthermore, we only discuss the interaction of the P1C with climate change risks (as opposed to broader environmental and/or social risk types). After establishing the extent to which the prudential framework takes climate change risks into account, possible amendments to the framework will be considered.

Key take-aways of this article:

  • The current prudential framework includes several mechanisms that allow the reflection of climate change risks into the P1C.
  • The interaction between P1C and climate change risks is limited to specific parts of the portfolio, and in those cases, it remains to be seen to what extent this is properly accounted for at the moment.
  • Amendments to the prudential framework can be considered, but it is important to avoid double counting issues and to take into account differences in time horizons.
  • The EBA is expected to publish a final report on the prudential treatment of environmental risks in the first half of this year.
  • Financial institutions that are using the internal ratings-based approach are advised to start with the incorporation of climate change risks into PD and LGD models.

EBA’s Discussion Paper

In the introduction of the DP, the EBA mentions the increasing environmental risks – and their interaction with the traditional risk types – as the trigger for the review of the prudential framework. One of the main concerns is whether the current framework is sufficiently capturing the impact of transition risks and the more frequent and severe physical risks expected in the coming decades. In this context, they stress the special characteristics of environmental risks: compared to the traditional risk types, environmental risks tend to have a “multidimensional, non-linear, uncertain and forward-looking nature.”

The EBA also explains that the P1C requirements are not intended to cover all risks a financial institution is exposed to. The P1C represents a baseline capital requirement that is complemented by the Pillar 2 Capital requirement, which is more reflective of a financial institution’s specific business model and risks. Still, it is warranted to assess whether environmental risks are appropriately reflected in the P1C requirements, especially if these lead to systemic risks.

Even though the DP raises more questions than it provides answers, some starting points for the discussion are introduced. One is that the EBA takes a risk-based approach. Their standpoint is that changes to the prudential framework should reflect actual risk differentials compared to other risk types and that it should not be a tool to (unjustly) incentivize the transition to a sustainable economy. The latter lies “in the remit of political authorities.”

The DP also discusses some challenges related to environmental risks. One example is the lack of high-quality, granular historical data, which is needed to support the calibration of the prudential framework. The EBA also mentions the mismatch in the time horizon for the prudential framework (i.e., a business cycle) and the time horizon over which the environmental risks will unfold (i.e., several decades). They wonder whether “the business cycle concepts and assumptions that are used in estimating risk weights and capital requirements are sufficient to capture the emergence of these risks.”

Finally, the EBA does not favor supporting and/or penalizing factors, i.e., the introduction of adjustments to the existing risk weights based on a (green) taxonomy-based classification of the exposures1. They are right to argue that there is no direct relationship between an exposure’s sustainability profile and its credit risk. In addition, there is a risk of double counting if environmental risk drivers have already been reflected in the current prudential framework. Consequently, the EBA concludes that targeted amendments to the framework may be more appropriate. An example would be to ensure that environmental risks are properly included in external credit ratings and the credit risk models of financial institutions. We explain this in more detail in the following paragraphs.

Pillar 1 Capital requirements

The assessment to what extent climate change risks are properly captured in the current prudential framework requires at least a high-level understanding of the framework. Figure 1 presents a schematic overview of the P1C requirements.

The P1C (at the top of Figure 1) depends on the total amount of Risk-Weighted Assets (RWAs; on the row below)2. RWAs are determined separately for each (traditional) risk type. As mentioned, we only focus on credit risk in this article. The RWAs for credit risk are approximately 80% of the average bank’s total RWAs3. Financial institutions can choose between two methodologies for determining their credit risk RWAs: the Standardized Approach (SA)4 and the internal ratings-based (IRB) approach5 . In Europe, on average 40% of the total RWAs for credit risk are based on the SA, while the rest is based on the IRB approach:

Figure 1 – Schematic overview of the P1C requirements and the interaction with climate change risks

Standardized Approach

In the SA, risk weights (RWs) are assigned to individual exposures, depending on their exposure class. About 50% of the RWAs for credit risk in the SA stem from the Corporates exposure class7. Generally speaking, there are three possible RW drivers: the RWAs depend on the external credit rating for the exposure, a fixed RW applies, or the RW depends on the Loan-to-Value8 (LtV) of the (real estate) exposure. The RW for an exposure to a sovereign bond for example, is either equal to 100% if no external credit rating is available (a fixed RW) or it ranges between 0% (for an AAA to AA-rated bond) and 150% (for a below B-rated bond).

Internal Ratings-Based Approach

Within the IRB approach, a distinction is made between Foundation IRB (F-IRB) and Advanced IRB (A-IRB). In both cases, a financial institution is allowed to use its internal models to determine the Probability of Default (PD) for the exposure. In the A-IRB approach, the financial institution in addition is allowed to use internal models to determine the Loss Given Default (LGD), Exposure at Default (EAD), and the Effective Maturity (M).

Interaction with climate change risks

The overview of the P1C requirements introduced in the previous section allows us to investigate the interaction between climate change risks and the P1C requirement. This is done separately for the SA and the IRB approach.

Standardized Approach

In the SA, there are two elements that allow for interaction between climate change risks and the resulting P1C. Climate change risks could be reflected in the P1C if the RW depends on an external credit rating, and this rating in turn properly accounts for climate change risks in the assessment of the counterparty’s creditworthiness (see 1 in Figure 1). The same holds if the RW depends on the LtV and in turn, the collateral valuation properly accounts for climate change risks (see 2 in Figure 1). This raises several concerns:

First, it can be questioned whether external credit ratings are properly capturing all climate change risks. In a report from the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) [3], which was published at the same time as EBA’s DP, it is stated that credit rating agencies (CRAs) have so far not attempted to determine the credit impact of environmental risk factors (through back-testing for example). Also, the lack of high-quality historical data is mentioned as an explanation that statistical relationships between environmental risks and credit ratings have not been quantified. Further, a paper published by the ECB [4] concludes that, given the current level of disclosures, it is impossible for users of credit ratings to establish the magnitude of adjustments to the credit rating stemming from ESG-related risks. Nevertheless, they state that credit rating agencies “have made significant progress with their disclosures and methodologies around ESG in recent years.” The need for this is supported by academic research. An example is a study [5] from 2021 in which a correlation between credit default swap (CDS) spreads and ESG performance was demonstrated, and a study from 2020 [6] which demonstrated that high emitting companies have a shorter distance-to-default.

Secondly, the EBA has reported in the DP that less than 10% of the SA’s total RWAs is derived based on external credit ratings. This implies that a large share of the total RWAs is assigned a fixed RW. Obviously, in those cases there is no link between the P1C and the climate change risks involved in those exposures.

Finally, climate change risks only impact the P1C maintained for real estate exposures to the extent that these risks have been reflected in collateral valuations. Although climate change risks are priced in financial markets according to academic literature, many papers and institutions indicate that these risks are not (yet) fully reflected. In a survey held by Stroebel and Wurgler in 2021 [7], it is shown that a large majority of the respondents (consisting of finance academics, professionals and public sector regulators, among others) is of the opinion that climate change risks have insufficiently been priced in financial markets. A nice overview of this and related literature is presented in a publication from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) [8]. The EBA DP itself lists some research papers in chapter 5.1 that indicate a relationship between a home’s sales price and its energy efficiency, or with the occurrence of physical risk events. It is unclear though if climate change risks are fully captured in the collateral valuations. For example, research is presented that information on flood risk is not priced into residential property prices. Recent research by ABN AMRO [9] also shows this.

Internal Ratings-Based Approach

In the IRB approach, financial institutions have more flexibility to include climate change risks in their internal models (see 3 in Figure 1). In the F-IRB approach this is limited to PD models, but in the A-IRB approach also LGD models can be adjusted.

A complicating factor is the forward-looking nature of climate change risks. In recent years, the competent authorities have pressured financial institutions to use historical data as much as possible in their model calibration and to back-test the performance of their models. As climate change risks will unfold over the next couple of decades, these are not (yet) reflected in historical data. To incorporate climate change risk, expert judgement would therefore be required. This has been discouraged over the past years (e.g., through the ECB’s Targeted Review of Internal Models (TRIM)) and it will probably trigger a discussion with the competent authorities. A possible deterioration of model performance (due to higher estimated risks compared to historically observations) is just one example that may attract attention.

Another complicating factor is that under the IRB approach, the PD of an obligor is estimated based on long-run average one-year default rates. While this may be an appropriate approach if there are no clear indications that the overall risk level will change, this does not hold if climate change risks increase in the future, and possibly increase systemic risks. By continuing to base a PD model on historical data only, especially for exposures with a time to maturity beyond a couple of years, the credit risk may be understated.

Are amendments to the prudential framework needed?

We have explained that there are several mechanisms in the prudential framework that allow environmental risks to be included in the P1C: the use of external credit ratings, the valuation of collateral, and the PD and LGD models used in the IRB approach. We have also seen, however, that it is questionable whether these mechanisms are fully effective. External credit ratings may not properly reflect all environmental risks and these risks may not be fully priced in on capital markets, leading to incorrect collateral values. Finally, a large share of the RWAs for credit risk depends on fixed RWs that are not (environmentally) risk-sensitive.

Consequently, it can be argued that amendments or enhancements to the prudential framework are needed. One must be careful, however, as the risk of double counting is just around the corner. Therefore, the following amendments or actions should be considered:

  • Further research should be undertaken to investigate the relationship between climate change risk and the creditworthiness of counterparties. If there is more clarity on this relationship, it should also be assessed to what extent this relationship is sufficiently reflected in external ratings. Requiring more advanced disclosures from credit rating agencies could help to understand whether these risks are sufficiently captured in the prudential framework. One should be cautious to amend the ratings-based RWs in the SA, since credit rating agencies are continuously working on the inclusion of environmental risks into their credit assessments; there would be a real risk of double counting.
  • The potential negative impact of climate change risks on collateral value should be further investigated. Financial institutions are already required by the ECB9 to consider environmental risks in their collateral valuations but this is not at a sufficient level yet. It will be important to consider the possibility of sudden value changes due to transition risks like shifting consumer sentiment or awareness.
  • To improve the risk-sensitivity of the framework, a dependency on the carbon emissions of the counterparty could be introduced in the fixed RWs, possibly only for the most carbon-intensive sectors. It could be argued that there are other factors that have a more significant relationship with the default risk of a certain counterparty that could be included in the SA. Climate change risks, however, differ in the sense that they can lead to a systemic risk (as opposed to an idiosyncratic risk) that is currently not captured in the overall level of the RWs.
  • In the SA, a distinction could be introduced based on the exposure’s time to maturity. For relatively short-term exposures, the current calibrations are probably fine. For longer-term exposures, however, the risks stemming from climate change may be underestimated as these are expected to increase over time.
  • In the IRB approach, a reflection of climate change risk would require the regulator to allow for forward-looking expert judgment in the (re)calibration of PD and LGD models. Further guidance from the competent authorities on the potentially negative impact on model performance based on historical data would also be useful.


Based on the schematic overview of the P1C requirements and the (potential) interaction with climate change risks, we conclude that several mechanisms in the prudential framework allow for climate change risks to be incorporated into the P1C. At the same time, we conclude that this interaction is limited to specific parts of the portfolio, and that in those cases it remains to be seen to what extent this is properly accounted for. To remedy this, amendments to the prudential framework could be considered. It is important, however, to avoid double counting issues and to be mindful of time horizon differences.

It is expected that the EBA will publish a final report on the prudential treatment of environmental risks in the first half of this year. However, especially financial institutions that are using the IRB approach should not take a wait-and-see approach. Given the complexity of modeling climate change risks, it is prudent to start incorporating climate change risks into PD and LGD models sooner rather than later.

With Zanders’ extensive experience covering both credit risk modeling and climate change risk, we are well suited to support with this process. If you are looking for support, please reach out to us.

1 Supporting factors are currently in place for SMEs and infrastructure projects, but the EBA advocated their removal.
2 See RBC20.1 in the Basel Framework.
3 See for example the results from the EBA’s EU-wide transparency exercise. This is reflected in Figure 1 by the percentage in the grey link between P1C and RWAs for credit risk.
4 See CRE20 to CRE22 in the Basel Framework.
5 See CRE30 to CRE36 in the Basel Framework.
6 In the Netherlands, less than 20% of the total RWAs is based on the SA. See the EBA’s EU-wide transparency exercise for more information. The percentages in the grey link between ‘Risk-weighted assets’ and ‘Methodology’ in Figure 1 are based on the European average.
7 See the EBA’s Risk assessment of the European banking system [2]. The percentages in the grey link between ‘Standardized Approach’ and the ‘Exposure class’ in Figure 1 reflect the share of RWAs in the SA for each of the different exposure classes.
8 The LtV is defined as the ratio between the loan amount and the value of the property that serves as collateral.
9 See expectation 8.3 in the ECB’s Guide on climate-related and environmental risks.


  1. The role of environmental risks in the prudential framework, European Banking Authority, Discussion Paper, 2 May 2022
  2. Risk assessment of the European banking system, European Banking Authority, December 2022
  3. Capturing risk differentials from climate-related risks, Network for Greening the Financial System, Progress Report, May 2022
  4. Disclosure of climate change risk in credit ratings, European Central Bank, Occasional Paper Series, No. 303, September 2022
  5. Pricing ESG risk in credit markets, Federated Hermes, March 2021
  6. Climate change and credit risk, Capasso, Gianfrate, and Spinelli, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 266, September 2020
  7. What do you think about climate finance?, Stroebel and Wurgler, Journal of Financial Economics, vol 142, no 2, November 2021
  8. Pricing of climate risks in financial markets, Bank for International Settlements, Monetary and Economic Department, December 2022
  9. Is flood risk already affecting house prices?, ABN AMRO, 11 February 2022
  10. Guide on climate-related and environmental risks, European Central Bank, November 2020

BCBS Principles for the effective management of climate-related financial risks

February 2023
3 min read

Financial institutions spend billions per year in their fight against fraud.

These risks stem from the transition towards a low carbon economy and from the physical risks of damages due to extreme weather events. To address climate-related financial risks within the banking sector, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) established a high-level Task Force on Climate-related Financial Risks in 2020. It contributes to the BCBS’s mandate to strengthen the regulation, supervision and practices of banks worldwide with the purpose of enhancing financial stability.

Both the BCBS’s Core principles for effective banking supervision1 and the Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process (SREP) within the existing Basel Framework are considered sufficiently broad and flexible to accommodate additional supervisory responses to climate-related financial risks. It was felt, however, that supervisors and banks could benefit from the publication of the Principles for the effective management and supervision of climate-related financial risks2. Through this publication, the BCBS seeks to promote a principles-based approach to improving risk management and supervisory practices regarding climate-related financial risks. The document contains principles directed to banks and principles directed to supervisory authorities. In this article, we present an overview of the principles directed to banks.

The BCBS published a draft of their Principles in November 2021. During the consultation phase, which lasted until February 2022, banks and supervisors could provide feedback. The BCBS incorporated their feedback in the final version of the Principles that were published in June 2022.

Principles for the management of climate-related financial risks

In total, twelve bank-focused principles are presented and grouped in eight categories. Each of the eight categories is briefly discussed below:

Corporate governance – Principles 1 to 3

The principles related to corporate governance state that banks first need to understand and assess the potential impact of climate risks on all fields they operate in. Subsequently, appropriate policies, procedures and controls need to be implemented to ensure effective management of the identified risks. Furthermore, roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined and assigned throughout the bank. To successfully manage climate-related risks, banks should ensure an adequate understanding of climate-related financial risks and as well as adequate resources and skills at all relevant functions and business units within the bank. Finally, the board and senior management should ensure that all climate-related strategies are consistent with the bank’s stated goals and objectives.

Internal control framework – Principle 4

The fourth principle within the internal control framework subcategory requires banks to include clear definitions and assignment of climate-related responsibilities and reporting lines across all three lines of defense. Further requirements are then presented for each line of defense.

Capital and liquidity adequacy – Principle 5

After the identification and quantification of the climate-related financial risks, these risks need to be incorporated into banks’ Internal Capital (and Liquidity) Adequacy Assessment Process (ICLAAP). Banks should provide insights in which climate-related financial risks affect their capital and liquidity position. In addition, physical and transition risks relevant to a bank’s business model assessed as material over relevant time horizons, should be incorporated into their stress testing programs in order to evaluate the bank’s financial position under severe but plausible scenarios. Furthermore, the described incorporation in the ICLAAP to handle such financial risks, should be done iteratively and progressively, as the methodologies and data used to analyze these risks continue to mature over time.

Risk management process – Principle 6

The sixth principle connects to the previous one, as it states that a bank needs to identify, monitor and manage all climate-related financial risks that could materially impair their financial condition, including their capital resources and liquidity positions. The bank’s risk management framework should be comprehensive with respect to the (material) climate-related financial risks they are exposed to. Clear definitions and thresholds should be set for materiality. These need to be monitored closely and adjusted, if necessary, as climate-related risks are evolving.

Management monitoring and reporting – Principle 7

After ensuring that the risk framework is comprehensive, banks need to implement the monitoring and reporting of climate-related financial risks in a timely manner to facilitate effective decision-making. To achieve such reporting, a good data infrastructure should be in place at the bank. This allows it to identify, collect, cleanse, and centralize the data necessary to assess material climate-related financial risks. Furthermore, banks should actively collect additional data from clients and counterparties in order to develop a better understanding of their client’s transition strategies and risk profiles.

Management of credit, market, liquidity, operational risk – Principles 8 to 11

Banks should understand the impact of climate-related risk drivers on their credit risk profiles, market positions, liquidity risk profiles and operational risks. Clearly articulated credit policies and processes to identify, measure, evaluate, monitor, report and control or mitigate the impacts of material climate-related risk drivers on banks’ credit risk exposures should be in place. From a market risk perspective, banks should consider the potential losses in their portfolios due to climate-related risks. On the business operation and strategy side of banking activities, the impact of climate-related risks also plays a large role. For example, physical risks have to be taken into account when drafting business continuity plans. After understanding the different risks and their impacts, a range of risk mitigation options to control or mitigate climate-related financial risks need to be considered.

Scenario analysis – Principle 12

The final principle states that banks need to use scenario analysis to assess the resilience of their business models and strategies to a range of plausible climate-related pathways, and to determine the impact of climate-related risk drivers on their overall risk profile. Scenario analysis should reflect the overall relevant climate-related financial risks for banks, including both physical and transition risks. This analysis should be performed for different time horizons, both short- and long-term, and should be highly dynamic.

Changes to the BCBS risk framework draft and related publications

The final Principles have not changed much compared to the November 2021 consultation document. The most important changes are that the first principle, concerning corporate governance of banks, and the fifth principle, concerning capital and liquidity adequacy, have been extended. The corporate governance principle, for example, now also includes that banks should ensure that their internal strategies and risk appetite statements are consistent with any publicly communicated climate-related strategies and commitments. The capital and liquidity adequacy principle now includes a section requiring banks to incorporate material climate-related financial risks in their stress testing programs.

These twelve bank-focused principles, providing banks guidance on effective risk management of climate-related financial risks, can also be linked to the initiatives of other regulators such as the ECB. In November 2020, for example, the ECB provided a guide that describes how it expects institutions to consider climate-related and environmental risks, when formulating and implementing their business strategy, governance and risk management frameworks (the ECB expectations). These ECB expectations are in line with the BCBS Principles (and often more elaborate).

Zanders has gained relevant experience in implementing the ECB expectations at several Dutch banks. This experience ranges from risk identification and materiality assessments to the quantification of climate-related risks, ESG data frameworks, model validations, and scenario analysis. Please reach out to us if your bank is seeking support in implementing the BCBS Principles.

1) Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (2012). Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision.
2) Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (2022). Principles for the effective management and supervision of climate-related financial risks.

Regulatory timelines ESG Risk Management

January 2023
3 min read

Financial institutions spend billions per year in their fight against fraud.

In the below overview, we present an overview of the main ESG-related publications from the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the European Banking Authority (EBA).

This is complemented by the most important timelines that are stipulated in these regulations and guidelines. Additional regulations and guidelines that are expected for the next couple of years are also highlighted.

If you want to discuss any of them, don’t hesitate to reach out to our subject matter experts.

ESG-related derivatives: regulation & valuation

September 2022
9 min read

On Thursday 15 June 2023, Zanders hosted a roundtable on ‘Climate Scenario Design & Stress Testing’. This article discusses our view on the topic and highlights key insights from the roundtable. 

The most popular financial instruments in this regard are sustainability-linked loans and bonds. But more recently, corporates also started to focus on ESG-related derivatives. In short, these derivatives provide corporates with a financial incentive to improve their ESG performance, for instance by linking it to a sustainable KPI. This article aims to provide some guidance on the impact of regulation around ESG-related derivatives.

As covered in our first ESG-related derivatives article, a broad spectrum of instruments is included in this asset class, the most innovative ones being emission trading derivatives, renewable energy and fuel derivatives, and sustainability-linked derivatives (SLDs).

Currently, market participants and regulatory bodies are assessing if, and how new types of derivatives fit into existing derivatives regulation. In this regard, European and UK regulators are at the forefront of the regulatory review to foster activity and ensure safety of financial markets. Since it’s especially challenging for market participants to comprehend the impact of these regulations and the valuation implications of SLDs, we aim to provide guidance to corporates on these matters, with a special focus on the implications for corporate treasury.

Categorization & classification

When issuing an SLD, it’s important to understand which category the respective SLD falls in. That is, whether the SLD incorporates KPIs and the impact of cashflows in the derivatives instrument (category 1), or if the KPIs and related cashflows are stated in a separate agreement, in which the underlying derivatives transaction is mentioned for setting the reference amount to compute the KPI-linked cashflow (category 2). This categorization makes it easier to understand the regulations applying to the SLD, and the implications of those regulations.

In general, a category 1 SLD will be classified as derivative under European and UK regulations, and swap under US regulations, if the underlying financial contract is already classified as such. The addition of KPI elements to the underlying financial instrument is unlikely to change that classification.

Whether a category 2 SLD is classified as a derivative or swap is somewhat more complicated. In Europe, this type of SLD is classified as a derivative if it falls within the MIFID II catch-all provision, which must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Overall, instruments that are classified as derivatives in Europe will also be classified as such in the UK. But to elaborate, a category 2 SLD will classified as a derivative in the UK if the payments of the financial instrument vary based on fluctuations in the KPIs.

When a category 2 SLD is issued in the US, it will only be classified as a swap if KPI-linked payments within the financial agreement go in two directions. Even if that is the case, the SLD may still be eligible for the status as commercial agreement outside of swaps regulation, but that is specific to facts and circumstances.

Apart from the classification as derivative or swap, it is also helpful to determine whether an SLD could be considered a hedging contract, so that it is eligible for hedging exemptions. The requirements for this are similar in Europe, the UK, and the US. Generally, category 1 SLDs are considered hedging contracts if the underlying instruments still follow the purpose of hedging commercial risks, after the KPI is incorporated. Category 2 SLDs are normally issued to meet sustainability goals, instead of hedging purposes. Therefore, it is unlikely that this category of SLDs will be classified as hedging contracts.

Regulation & valuation implications

When issuing an SLD that is classified as a derivative or swap, there are several regulatory and valuation implications relevant to treasury. These implications can be split up in six types which we will now explain in more detail. The six types (risk management, reporting, disclosure, benchmark-related considerations, prudential requirements, and valuation) are similar for corporates across Europe, the UK, and the US, unless otherwise mentioned.

Risk management

As is the case for other derivatives and swaps, corporate treasuries must meet confirmation requirements, undertake portfolio reconciliation, and perform portfolio compression for SLDs. Additionally, regulated companies are required to construct effective risk procedures for risk management, which includes documenting all risks associated with KPI-linked cashflows. While these points might be business as usual, it must also be determined if and how KPI-linked cashflows should be modeled for valuation obligations that apply to derivatives and swaps. For instance, initial margin models might need to be adjusted for SLDs, so they capture KPI-linked risks accurately.


Corporate treasuries must report SLDs to trade repositories in Europe and the UK, and to swap data repositories in the US. Since these repositories require companies to report in line with prescriptive frameworks that do not specifically cover SLDs, it should be considered how to report KPI-linked features. As this is currently not clearly defined, issuers of SLDs are advised to discuss the establishment of clear reporting guidelines for this financial instrument with regulators and repositories. A good starting point for this could be the mark-to-market or mark-to-model valuation part of the EMIR reporting regulations.


Only Treasuries of European financial entities will be involved in meeting disclosure requirements of SLDs, as the legislation in the UK and US is behind on Europe in this respect, and non-financial market participants are not as strictly regulated. From January 2023, the second phase of the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) will be in place, which requires financial companies to report periodically, and provide pre-contractual disclosures on SLDs. Treasuries of investment firms and portfolio managers are ought to contribute to this by reporting on sustainability-related impact of the SLDs compared to the impact of reference index and broad market index with sustainability indicators. In addition, they could leverage their knowledge of financial instruments to evaluate the probable impacts of sustainability risks on the returns of the SLDs.

Benchmark-related implications

In case the KPI of an SLD references or includes an index, it could be defined as a benchmark under European and UK legislation. In such cases, treasuries are advised to follow the same policy they have in place for benchmarks incorporated in other brown derivatives. Specific benchmark regulations in the US are currently non-existent, however, many US benchmark administrators maintain policies in compliance with the same principles as where the European and UK benchmark legislation is built on.
Prudential requirements

Since treasury departments of corporates around the world are required to calculate risk-weighted exposures for derivatives transactions as well as non-derivatives transactions, this is not different for SLDs. While there is currently little guidance on this for SLDs explicitly, that may change in the near future, as US prudential regulators are assessing the nature of the risk that is being assumed with in-scope market participants.


The SLD market is still in its infancy, with SLD contracts being drawn up are often specific to the company issuing it, and therefore tailor made. The trading volume must go up, trade datasets are to be accurately maintained, and documentation should be standardized on a global scale for the market to reach transparency and efficiency. This will lead to the possibility of accurate pricing and reliable cashflow management of this financial instrument and increases the ability to hedge the ESG component.

To conclude

As aforementioned, the ESG-related derivatives market and the SLD market within it are still in the development phase. Therefore, regulations and their implications will evolve swiftly. However, the key points to consider for corporate treasury when issuing an SLD presented in this article can prove to be a good starting point for meeting regulatory requirements as well as developing accurate valuation methodology. This is important, since these derivatives transactions will be crucial for facilitating the lending, investment and debt issuance required to meet the ESG ambitions of Europe, the UK, and the US.

For more information on ESG issues, please contact Joris van den Beld or Sander van Tol.

Impact of EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan on Risk Management – Round-table Summary 

July 2022
9 min read

On Thursday 15 June 2023, Zanders hosted a roundtable on ‘Climate Scenario Design & Stress Testing’. This article discusses our view on the topic and highlights key insights from the roundtable. 

This topic is gaining momentum because of the European Commission’s Sustainable Finance Action Plan and associated regulatory changes.

One of the new requirements is that asset managers must incorporate sustainability risks in their risk management and reporting as of August 2022. This means that these risks must be measured, assessed and mitigated. However, this is not an easy task due to a lack of uniformity in risk management approaches and lagging data quality.

This prompted AF Advisors and Zanders to organize a round-table session on the subject. The large session turnout showed the importance of managing sustainability risks for the asset management sector. Parties that manage a total of no less than EUR 2.5 trillion in assets joined the session, including a broad selection of the largest asset managers active in the Netherlands. This attendance led to good, in-depth discussions. The discussion was preceded and inspired by a presentation from one of the expertized asset managers in the field of sustainability on how they mitigate, assess and monitor sustainability risks. Two hours of lively discussion is difficult to summarize but we would like to share a few interesting takeaways. Note that these takeaways do not necessarily represent the views of all the participants, though are merely an overview of the topics that were discussed.

Key takeaways

Financial risk management departments increasingly in the lead

While a few years ago, sustainability risks and the management of these risks were still the task of responsible investing teams in many organizations, this task is increasingly being taken up by financial risk managing departments as these are increasingly capable to quantify sustainability risks. This shift leads to new techniques and new requirements for data. Where previously exclusions were an important method for many parties, an integrated portfolio approach is emerging.

Lack of uniformity in the assessment of sustainability risks

The two main problems in managing sustainability risks are a lack of uniformity in approaches and a limited data quality or availability. Limited data quality is a well-known topic, especially for alternative asset classes. Specialized data vendors will be required to address these issues.

Important to realize, however, is that sustainability risk is such a broad and young concept that it is open to many interpretations. This means that the way in which sustainability risks are assessed can still differ considerably between parties. The benefit is that the different approaches help to speed up the evolvement of this new area. In the longer term it is expected that the assessments converge to a best market practice. Until then, there will be little standardization and different use of terminology. This is especially problematic in a multi-client environment with varying clients’ needs. Enforced communication by the regulator can therefore lead to outcomes that are hard to compare and interpret for clients. Listing definitions used and an explanation of the methodologies used is vital in communication on sustainability risks to clients.

ESG risk ratings are most popular concept despite drawbacks

The most frequently mentioned way in which sustainability risks are monitored is by means of environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk ratings. For example, by comparing a portfolio’s ESG scores with the scores of a corresponding benchmark and by limiting deviations. By using these ratings, environmental, social and governance factors are included. The major drawback of this approach is that it is partly backward-looking. Participants agreed, due to the long horizon over which most risks materialize, traditional (backward-looking) risk models may not be the most suited.

Most forward-looking data is available for climate risks. In addition to the use of ESG scores, a climate risk methodology is therefore desirable.

Not only European legislation matters

Next to European regulation, it is also important to consider emerging global initiatives and other regulation and reporting frameworks. US regulations such as US SDR can impact organizations and the approaches to sustainability risks to some extent. Global initiatives such as TCFD and TNFD are likely to influence and affect organizations’ risk management processes as well. Potential overlap must be analyzed so that an asset managers can face the challenges efficiently.

Internal organization

Sustainability risks can be defined and monitored at various levels of an organization. Portfolio managers should take them into account in the selection of investments. Second line monitoring and independent assessments must be in place. It is important to realize that this is not a topic that only affects the investment and risk management teams. The legislation explicitly places responsibility for managing sustainability risks on the board level and requires internal reporting, controls and sufficient internal knowledge of the topic.


Sustainability risk management is an important topic that asset managers will need to be working on in the coming years. It is expected that this field will evolve over time, it was even referred to as a ‘journey’. The deadline of MiFID, AIFMD and UCITS in August 2022 – date on which amendments of these regulations to incorporate sustainability risks come into effect – is an important first regulatory milestone but will certainly not be the last. With the organization of the round table, we hope to have assisted parties in getting a better understanding of the topic and to have contributed to their journey.

The ESG data challenge

July 2022
9 min read

On Thursday 15 June 2023, Zanders hosted a roundtable on ‘Climate Scenario Design & Stress Testing’. This article discusses our view on the topic and highlights key insights from the roundtable. 

But to seize the opportunities ESG must become an integrated part of a bank’s strategy, risk management and disclosure regimes. High-quality data is instrumental to identify and measure ESG risks, but it can be lacking. FIs need to improve their internal data and use of external private and public vendors like Moody’s or the IMF, while developing a framework that plugs any data gaps.

The lack of appropriate ESG data is considered one of the main challenges for many FIs, but proxies, such as using a building’s energy rating to work out its carbon emissions, can be used.

FIs need climate change-related data that isn’t always available if you don’t know where to look. This article will give you an overview of the most relevant data vendors and provide suggestions on how to treat missing data gaps in order to get a comprehensive ESG framework for the green future where carbon measurement, assessment, reporting and trading will be vital

The data challenge

In May 2021, the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) published a ‘Progress report on bridging data gaps’. In this report, the NGFS writes that meeting climate-related data needs is a challenge that can be described along the following three dimensions:

  • data availability,
  • reliability,
  • & comparability.

A further breakdown of the challenges related to these dimensions can be found in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The dimensions of the climate-related data challenge.
Source: Graphic adapted by Zanders from a NGFS report entitled: ‘Progress report on bridging data gaps’ (2021).

Key financial metrics

The NGFS writes that a mix of policy interventions is necessary to ensure climate-related data is based on three building blocks:

  1. Common and consistent global disclosure standards.
  2. A minimally accepted global taxonomy.
  3. Consistent metrics, labels, and methodological standards.

EU Taxonomy, CSRD & EBA’s 3 ESG risk disclosure standards

Several initiatives have started to ignite these needed policy interventions. For example, the EU Taxonomy, introduced by the European Commission (EC), is a classification system for environmentally sustainable activities. In addition, the recently approved Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) provides ESG reporting rules for large listed and non-listed companies in the EU, including several FIs. The aim of the CSRD is to prevent greenwashing and to provide the basis for global sustainability reporting standards. Another example of a disclosure standard is the binding standards on Pillar 3 disclosures on ESG risks developed by the European Banking Authority (EBA).

Even though policy, law and regulation makers have a big part to play in the data challenge, there are also steps that individual institutions could and should take to improve their own ESG data gaps. Regulatory bodies such as the EBA and the European Central Bank (ECB) have shared their expectations and recommendations on the management of ESG data with FIs.

To illustrate, the EBA recommends FIs “[identify] the gaps they are facing in terms of data and methodologies and take remedial action” and the ECB expects institutions to “assess their data needs in order to inform their strategy-setting and risk management, to identify the gaps compared with current data and to devise a plan to overcome these gaps and tackle any insufficiencies”

Collecting data

Collecting ESG data is a challenging exercise. A distinction can be made between collecting data for large market cap companies, and small cap companies and retail clients. Although large cap companies tend to be more transparent, the data often is dispersed over multiple reports – for example, corporate sustainability reports, annual reports, emissions disclosures, company websites, and so on.

For small cap companies and retail clients, the data is more difficult to acquire. Data that is not publicly available could be gathered bilaterally from clients. For example, one European bank has developed an annual client questionnaire to collect data from its clients.

Gathering data from various reports or bilaterally from clients might not always be the best option, however, because it is time consuming or because the data is not available, reliable, or comparable. Two alternatives are:

  1. Use tools to collect the data. For example, using open-source tooling from the Two Degrees Investing Initiative (2DII) to calculate Paris Agreement Capital Transition Assessment (PACTA) portfolio alignment.
  2. Collect data from other external data sources, such as S&P Global.

This could be forward-looking external data on macro-economic expectations, international climate scenarios, financial market data or sectoral climate developments. Below we discuss some sources for external ESG and climate change-related data.

External data

Some of Zanders’ clients resort to vendor solutions for acquiring their ESG data. The most commonly observed solutions, in random order, are:

All the solutions above provide an aid to determine if climate related performance data is lacking, or can assist in reporting comparable and reliable data. They all apply a similar process of collecting the data and determining ESG scores, which is illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Data collection process for ESG data solutions (Source: Zanders).

Additionally, public and non-commercial data and solution providers are available, such as:

Missing data

Given the data challenges, it is nearly impossible to create a complete data set. Until that is possible, there are several (temporary) methods to deal with missing data:

  • Find a comparable loan, asset, or company for which the required data is available.
  • Distribute sector data based on market share of individual companies. For example, assign 10% of the estimated emission of sector X to company Y based on its market share of 10%.
  • Find a proxy, comparable or second-best metric. For example, by taking the energy label as a proxy for CO2 emission related to properties, or by excluding scope 3 emissions and focusing on scope 1 and 2 emissions.
  • Change the granularity level. For example, by gathering data on sector level rather than on individual positions.
  • Fill in the gaps with statistical or machine learning techniques.


The increased attention to integrating ESG risks into existing risk frameworks has led to a need for FIs to collect and disclose meaningful data on ESG factors. However, there is still a lack of data availability, reliability, and comparability.

Several regulatory and political efforts are ongoing to tackle this data challenge, such as the EU taxonomy. More policy interventions, however, are required. Examples are additional mandatory disclosure requirements, an audit and validation framework for ESG data, and social and governance taxonomies that classify economic activities that contribute to social and governance goals.

In the meantime, FIs have to find ways to produce meaningful insights and comply with regulatory requirements related to ESG risks. Zanders has experienced that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for defining, selecting, implementing, and disclosing relevant data and metrics. It is dependent on the composition of the asset and loan portfolio, the use of the data, and the data that is (already) available. Regardless of how the lack of data is solved, it is important that FIs are transparent about their choices and methodologies, and that the related metrics and scorings are explainable and intuitive.


The ECB published the results of its climate risk stress test

July 2022
9 min read

On Thursday 15 June 2023, Zanders hosted a roundtable on ‘Climate Scenario Design & Stress Testing’. This article discusses our view on the topic and highlights key insights from the roundtable. 

In total 104 banks participated in the stress test that was intended as a learning exercise, for the ECB and the participating banks alike. In this article we provide a brief overview of the main results.

The ECB’s goal with the climate risk stress test was to assess the progress banks have made in developing climate risk stress-testing frameworks and the corresponding projections, as well as understanding the exposures of banks with respect to both transition and physical climate change risks. The stress test therefore consisted of three modules: 1) a qualitative questionnaire to assess the bank’s climate risk stress testing capabilities, 2) two climate risk metrics showing the sensitivity of the banks’ income to transition risk and their exposure to carbon emission-intensive industries, and 3) constrained bottom-up stress test projections for four scenarios specified by the ECB1. The third module only had to be completed by 41 directly supervised banks to limit the burden for some of the smaller banks included in the climate risk stress test.

An understatement of the true risk

The constrained bottom-up stress test projections show that the combined market and credit risk losses for the 41 banks in the sample amount to approximately EUR 70 billion in the short-term disorderly transition scenario. The ECB emphasizes that this probably is an understatement of the true risk, because it does not consider the scenarios underlying the stress test to be ‘adverse’. Second round economic effects from climate risk changes have, for example, not been factored in. Furthermore, only a third of the total exposures of the 41 banks were in scope and, on top of that, the ECB considers the banks’ modeling capabilities to be ‘rudimentary’ in this stage: they report that around 60% of the banks do not yet have a well-integrated climate risk stress testing framework in place, and they expect that it will take several years before banks achieve this. Even though banks are not meeting the ECB’s expectations yet, the ECB does conclude that banks have made considerable progress with respect to their climate stress testing capabilities.

Be aware of clients’ transition plans

A further analysis of the results shows that the share of interest income related to the 22 most carbon-intensive industries amounts to more than 60% of the total non-financial corporate interest income (on average for the banks in the sample). Interestingly, this is higher than the share of these sectors (around 54%) in the EU economy in terms of gross added value. The ECB argues that banks should be very much aware of the transition plans of their clients to manage potential future transition risks in their portfolio. The exposure to physical risks is much more varied across the sample of banks. It primarily depends on the geographical location of their lending portfolios’ assets.

The ECB points out that only a few banks account for climate risk in their credit risk models. In many cases, the credit risk parameters are fairly insensitive to the climate change scenarios used in the stress test. They also report that only one in five banks factor climate risk into their loan origination processes. A final point of attention is data availability. In many cases, proxies instead of actual counterparty data have been used to measure (for example) greenhouse gas emissions, especially for Scope 3. Consequently, the ECB is also promoting a higher level of customer engagement to improve in this area.

Many deficiencies, data gaps and inconsistencies

The outcome of the climate risk stress test will not have direct implications for a bank’s capital requirements, but it will be considered from a qualitative point of view as part of the Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process (SREP). This will be complemented by the results from the ongoing thematic review that is focused on the way banks consider climate-related and environmental risks into their risk management frameworks. The combination will indicate to the ECB how well a bank is meeting the expectations laid down in the ‘Guide on climate-related and environmental risks’ that was published by the ECB in November 2020.

The ECB notes that the exercise revealed many deficiencies, data gaps and inconsistencies across institutions and expects banks to make substantial further progress in the coming years. Furthermore, the ECB concludes that banks need to increase customer engagement to obtain relevant company-level information on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to invest further in the methodological assumptions that are used to arrive at proxies.

If you are looking for support with the integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance risk factors into your existing risk frameworks, please reach out to us.

1) See our earlier article on the ECB’s climate stress test methodology for more details.

Integrating ESG risks into a bank’s credit risk framework

July 2022
3 min read

Financial institutions spend billions per year in their fight against fraud.

The last three to four years have seen a rapid increase in the number of publications and guidance from regulators and industry bodies. Environmental risk is currently receiving the most attention, triggered by the alarming reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These reports show that it is a formidable, global challenge to shift to a sustainable economy in order to reduce environmental impact.

Zanders’ view

Zanders believes that banks have an important role to play in this transition. Banks can provide financing to corporates and households to help them mitigate or adapt to climate change, and they can support the development of new products such as sustainability-linked derivatives. At the same time, banks need to integrate ESG risk factors into their existing risk processes to prepare for the new risks that may arise in the future. Banks and regulators so far have mostly focused on credit risk.

We believe that the nature and materiality of ESG risks for the bank and its counterparties should be fully understood, before making appropriate adjustments to risk models such as rating, pricing, and capital models. This assessment allows ESG risks to be appropriately integrated into the credit risk framework. To perform this assessment, banks may consider the following four steps:

  • Step 1: Identification. A bank can identify the possible transmission channels via which ESG risk factors can impact the credit risk profile of the bank. This can be through direct exposures, or indirectly via the credit risk profile of the bank’s counterparties. This can for example be done on portfolio or sector level.
  • Step 2: Materiality. The materiality of the identified ESG risk factors can be assessed by assigning them scores on impact and likelihood. This process can be supported by identifying (quantitative) internal and external sources from the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), governmental bodies, or ESG data providers.
  • Step 3: Metrics. For the material ESG risk factors, relevant and feasible metrics may be identified. By setting limits in line with the Risk Appetite Statement (RAS) of the bank, or in line with external benchmarks (e.g., a climate science-based emission path that follows the Paris Agreement), the exposure can be managed.
  • Step 4: Verification. Because of the many qualitative aspects of the aforementioned steps, it is important to verify the outcomes of the assessment with portfolio and credit risk experts.

Key insights

Prior to the roundtable, Zanders performed a survey to understand the progress that Dutch banks are marking with the integration of ESG risks into their credit risk framework, and the challenges they are facing.

Currently, when it comes to incorporating ESG risks in the credit risk framework, banks are mainly focusing their attention on risk identification, the materiality assessment, risk metric definition and disclosures. The survey also reveals that the level of maturity with respect to ESG risk mitigation and risk limits differs significantly per bank. Nevertheless, the participating banks agreed that within one to three years, ESG risk factors are expected to be integrated in the key credit risk management processes, such as risk appetite setting, loan origination, pricing, and credit risk modeling. Data availability, defining metrics and the quantification of ESG risks were identified by banks as key challenges when integrating ESG in credit risk processes, as illustrated in the graph below.

In addition to the challenges mentioned above, discussion between participating banks revealed the following insights:

  • Insight 1: Focus of ESG initiatives is on environmental factors. Most banks have started integrating environmental factors into their credit risk management processes. In contrast, efforts for integrating social and governance factors are far less advanced. Participants in the roundtable agreed that progress still has to be made in the area of data, definitions, and guidelines, before social and governance factors can be incorporated in a way that is similar to the approach for environmental factors.
  • Insight 2: ESG adjustments to risk models may lead to double counting. The financial market still needs to gain more understanding to what extent ESG risk factor will manifest itself via existing risk drivers. For example, ESG factors such as energy label or flood risk may already be reflected in market prices for residential real estate. In that case, these ESG factors will automatically manifest itself via the existing LGD models and separate model adjustments for ESG may lead to double counting of ESG impact. Research so far shows mixed signals on this. For example, an analysis of housing prices by researchers from Tilburg University in 2021 has shown that there is indeed a price difference between similar houses with different energy labels. On the other hand, no unambiguous pricing differentiation was found as part of a historical house price analysis by economists from ABN AMRO in 2022 between similar houses with different flood risks. Participating banks agreed that further research and guidance from banks and the regulators is necessary on this topic.
  •  Insight 3: ESG factors may be incorporated in pricing. An outcome of incorporating ESG in a credit risk framework could be that price differentiation is introduced between loans that face high versus low climate risk. For example, consideration could be given to charging higher rates to corporates in polluting sectors or ones without an adequate plan to deal with the effects of climate change. Or to charge higher rates for residential mortgages with a low energy label or for the ones that are located in a flood-prone area. Participating banks agreed that in theory, price differentiation makes sense and most of them are investigating this option as a risk mitigating strategy. Nevertheless, some participants noted that, even if they would be able to perfectly quantify these risks in terms of price add-ons, they were not sure if and how (e.g., for which risk drivers and which portfolios) they would implement this. Other mitigating measures are also available, such as providing construction deposits to clients for making their homes more sustainable.


Most participating banks have made efforts to include ESG risk factors in their credit risk management processes. Nevertheless, many efforts are still required to comply with all regulatory expectations regarding this topic. Not only efforts by the banks themselves but also from researchers, regulators, and the financial market in general.

Zanders has already supported several banks and asset managers with the challenges related to integrating ESG risks into the risk organization. If you are interested in discussing how we can help your organization, please reach out to Sjoerd Blijlevens or Marije Wiersma.

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