Basel Committee on Banking Supervision: Basel III reforms

05 January 2018

The Committee’s Basel III reforms complement the initial phase of the Basel III reforms announced in 2010. The 2017 reforms seek to restore credibility in the calculation of riskweighted assets (RWAs) and improve the comparability of banks’ capital ratios. RWAs are an estimate of risk that determines the minimum level of regulatory capital a bank must maintain to deal with unexpected losses. A prudent and credible calculation of RWAs is an integral element of the risk-based capital framework.

Standardised approach for credit risk
Credit risk accounts for the bulk of most banks’ risk-taking activities and hence their regulatory capital requirements. The standardised approach is used by the majority of banks around the world, including in non-Basel Committee jurisdictions. The Committee’s revisions to the standardised approach for credit risk enhance the regulatory framework by:

  • improving its granularity and risk sensitivity. For example, the Basel II standardised approach assigns a flat risk weight to all residential mortgages. In the revised standardised approach mortgage risk weights depend on the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of the mortgage;
  • reducing mechanistic reliance on credit ratings, by requiring banks to conduct sufficient due diligence, and by developing a sufficiently granular non-ratings-based approach for jurisdictions that cannot or do not wish to rely on external credit ratings; and
  • as a result, providing the foundation for a revised output floor to internally modelled capital requirements (to replace the existing Basel I floor) and related disclosure to enhance comparability across banks and restore a level playing field.

The revisions to the standardised approach for credit risk, relative to the existing standardised approach, are outlined in Table 1. In summary, the key revisions are as follows:

  • A more granular approach has been developed for unrated exposures to banks and corporates, and for rated exposures in jurisdictions where the use of credit ratings is permitted.
  • For exposures to banks, some of the risk weights for rated exposures have been recalibrated. In addition, the risk-weighted treatment for unrated exposures is more granular than the existing flat risk weight. A standalone treatment for covered bonds has also been introduced.
  • For exposures to corporates, a more granular look-up table has been developed. A specific risk weight applies to exposures to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In addition, the revised standardised approach includes a standalone treatment for exposures to project finance, object finance and commodities finance.
  • For residential real estate exposures, more risk-sensitive approaches have been developed, whereby risk weights vary based on the LTV ratio of the mortgage (instead of the existing single risk weight) and in ways that better reflect differences in market structures.
  • For retail exposures, a more granular treatment applies, which distinguishes between different types of retail exposures. For example, the regulatory retail portfolio distinguishes between revolving facilities (where credit is typically drawn upon) and transactors (where the facility is used to facilitate transactions rather than a source of credit).
  • For commercial real estate exposures, approaches have been developed that are more risk-sensitive than the flat risk weight which generally applies.
  • For subordinated debt and equity exposures, a more granular risk weight treatment applies (relative to the current flat risk weight).
  • For off-balance sheet items, the credit conversion factors (CCFs), which are used to determine the amount of an exposure to be risk-weighted, have been made more risk-sensitive, including the introduction of positive CCFs for unconditionally cancellable commitments (UCCs).

This note summarises the main features of the finalised Basel III reforms
The standards text, which provides the full details of the reforms, is published separately and is available on the BIS website at
The Basel III framework is a central element of the Basel Committee’s response to the global financial crisis. It addresses a number of shortcomings in the pre-crisis regulatory framework and provides a foundation for a resilient banking system that will help avoid the build-up of systemic vulnerabilities. The framework will allow the banking system to support the real economy through the economic cycle. The initial phase of Basel III reforms focused on strengthening the following components of the regulatory framework:

  • improving the quality of bank regulatory capital by placing a greater focus on going-concern loss-absorbing capital in the form of Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) capital;
  • increasing the level of capital requirements to ensure that banks are sufficiently resilient to withstand losses in times of stress;
  • enhancing risk capture by revising areas of the risk-weighted capital framework that proved to be acutely miscalibrated, including the global standards for market risk, counterparty credit risk and securitisation;
  • adding macroprudential elements to the regulatory framework, by: (i) introducing capital buffers that are built up in good times and can be drawn down in times of stress to limit procyclicality; (ii) establishing a large exposures regime that mitigates systemic risks arising from interlinkages across financial institutions and concentrated exposures; and (iii) putting in place a capital buffer to address the externalities created by systemically important banks;
  • specifying a minimum leverage ratio requirement to constrain excess leverage in the banking system and complement the risk-weighted capital requirements; and
  • introducing an international framework for mitigating excessive liquidity risk and maturity transformation, through the Liquidity Coverage Ratio and Net Stable Funding Ratio.

The Committee’s now finalised Basel III reforms complement these improvements to the global regulatory framework. The revisions seek to restore credibility in the calculation of risk-weighted assets (RWAs) and improve the comparability of banks’ capital ratios by:

  • enhancing the robustness and risk sensitivity of the standardised approaches for credit risk, credit valuation adjustment (CVA) risk and operational risk;
  • constraining the use of the internal model approaches, by placing limits on certain inputs used to calculate capital requirements under the internal ratings-based (IRB) approach for credit risk and by removing the use of the internal model approaches for CVA risk and for operational risk;
  • introducing a leverage ratio buffer to further limit the leverage of global systemically important banks (G-SIBs); and
  • replacing the existing Basel II output floor with a more robust risk-sensitive floor based on the Committee’s revised Basel III standardised approaches.


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