Newsletter – April 2020

Thinking Ahead – Accounting for Loan Losses During and After Covid-19

One of the many challenges posed by the current health crisis is the need for lenders to reassess their borrowers’ ability to repay their loans. While it may seem unfair, or even unseemly, to have to address this issue at this time, financial institutions will need to do exactly that in closing their books and reporting on the First Quarter of 2020 in their regulatory reports and (for SEC registrants) Forms 10-Q.

The accounting approach most community institutions are following, and on which we will focus here, is the traditional, probable incurred loss model. This model requires institutions to provide for losses that are probable to have been incurred under the GAAP literature in Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 450, Contingencies, and 310, Receivables. In practice, this usually involves a modeled component, based on historical write-offs over a look-back period, and a qualitative component, based on the current state and trend of economic and other factors affecting the portfolio. A good summary of the factors to be considered in this qualitative analysis are the nine points summarized in an Interagency Policy Statement issued in 2006 by federal banking agencies, which can be found at this link:

Generally, increased loss provisions are expected but likely too few facts are available to make specific loss assumptions. Measuring specific incurred losses at the end of Q1 will be difficult and most likely will be addressed through additional qualitative factors. Reserve assumptions for those credits already under analysis should be reevaluated and likely dealt with across product and delinquency categories.

Following are the nine points from the Policy Statement, in italics, followed in each case by our comments:

1. Changes in lending policies and procedures, including changes in underwriting standards and collection, charge-off, and recovery practices not considered elsewhere in estimating credit losses. This would include loan forbearance and other regulatory relief measures enacted to assist with resolution of the crisis:

2. Changes in international, national, regional, and local economic and business conditions and developments that affect the collectability of the portfolio, including the condition of various market segments. The effects of the current health crisis will be pervasive, as covered in the other points.

3. Changes in the nature and volume of the portfolio and in the terms of loans. Institutions will need to address any shifts in new lending – in some portfolio segments, new production will have stopped, and thus not be available to offset increased non-performing loans and normal amortization within those segments. Thus, looking forward and doing the math, loss rates will increase within these portfolio segments.

4. Changes in the experience, ability, and depth of lending management and other relevant staff. Will there be sufficient staff available to effectively manage the portfolio? Will remote collection efforts be as effective as prior techniques?

5. Changes in the volume and severity of past due loans, the volume of non-accrual loans, and the volume and severity of adversely classified or graded loans. A sharp increase in delinquencies can be expected, albeit delayed by the TDR forbearance mentioned above. The ultimate losses may be mitigated by any government guarantees that are available, as well as borrowers’ ability to access business interruption insurance.

6. Changes in the quality of the institution’s loan review system.
Improvements that strengthen the process of reviewing loans could be a mitigating factor. If however, the loan review process weakens, either because of staff illness or other limitations, this factor may be another reason to strengthen reserves.

7. Changes in the value of underlying collateral for collateral-dependent loans. Real estate loans will be a challenging area, as the impact of current developments on the commercial and residential real estate markets will take some time to shake out, however declines in market values seem likely.

8. The existence and effect of any concentrations of credit, and changes in the level of such concentrations. The effect of concentrations can become more severe as conditions in certain industry sectors worsen, and the relative size of concentrations can become larger as healthier loans run off in a low origination environment.

9. The effect of other external factors such as competition and legal and regulatory requirements on the level of estimated credit losses in the institution’s existing portfolio. These factors include forbearance that is enabled by legislation e.g., restrictions on foreclosure that lead to increased losses from deterioration in the physical condition of properties and/or in the property market.

Your portfolio consists of two types of borrowers: healthy and current borrowers who may be negatively affected by the duration and severity of the current crisis; and those already exhibiting financial stress (past due and delinquent accounts, businesses already under severe attack from a variety of sources including the lack of a viable internet strategy, lower cost of foreign competition, and many others) for which the current crisis may finalize their situation. Both may benefit from the governmental assistance and forbearance programs, however the exclusion from TDR accounting applies only to the former borrowers. You should track and maintain records of your borrowers’ status throughout the deferment and modification process in order to demonstrate those which are not TDRs.

We have discussed the challenge of first quarter reserving with senior representatives from several large accounting firms, and the following pieces of practical advice emerged:

* Now is not too soon to begin discussing reserving considerations with professional service providers, including auditors and consultants.

* Most institutions are targeting timely filings of their First Quarter reports, notwithstanding the grace periods being offered by regulators, including the FDIC and SEC. See the announcement of the grace periods at:

* Auditors, regulators, analysts and other interested parties will be looking for a strengthening of the environmental/qualitative reserve, along with supporting evidence that identifies the impact of current events and links to any adjustments.

* Whatever process is followed, it will be necessary to step back and consider whether the result makes sense.

* Whatever answer is arrived at for First Quarter reporting, further adjustments will undoubtedly be required in the Second and Third Quarters as more information becomes available.

We are familiar with these issues and accustomed to working remotely. Please let us know if we can help in any way.

Note on CECL: Institutions that have adopted the new Current Expected Credit Loss Model in the First Quarter will have similar considerations, but with the additional challenge of adopting the new model. They should also consider the possible impact of the CARES Act on timing of adoption, and related regulatory actions, including the Federal Institutions Letter on the interaction between timing of adoption and capital relief:

Larry Davis –
Paul Karr –
Eric Segal –