4 questions to explain the Asset-Liability Mismatch

Jun 22, 2021

An Asset Liability Mismatch, or ALM, is what led to the downfall of IL&FS. More recently, it has been discussed with relation to PMC Bank.

Which begs the question: Why do Financial Institutions (FIs) use short-term funds to give long-term loans? This asset-liability mismatch does not bode well for the company and increases insolvency risk.

Maintaining continuously effective ALM operations is challenging and requires a dynamic paradigm. FIs have to account for cash flow streams, liquidity management, credit risk, market risk, interest rate risk, balance sheet profitability, and capital planning.

(FI = banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), micro-finance institutions).  

Dr Vijay Malik explains by addressing four pertinent questions.

1. Why does an asset-liability mismatch happen?

To lend for the long term, a FI should ideally have long-term sources of funds.

In situations where a FI has to give out long-term loans by using money raised from short-term sources like commercial paper (CP) or current and savings account (CASA), exposes itself to risk.

The risk is that the counterparties that lent it the money in the first place (short-term funds) may demand it back anytime. Money may be pulled out of savings accounts. Bank deposits mature and the money has to be returned. In such a situation, the FI may not have the funds to do so, as they are all locked up in long-term loans.

This is the scenario which has played out for many NBFCs including IL&FS and is called an asset-liability mismatch.

2. How should the asset-liability mismatch be tackled?

  •  Use equity as the long-term source.

In an ideal situation, FIs should fund their long-term loans with long-term sources of money. This would eliminate an asset-liability mismatch. If this is implemented, all the long-term loans would be funded by equity. Using 100% equity for giving out long-term loans limits its growth prospects. Raising equity whenever a long-term loan has to be sanctioned is inconvenient, costly and time-consuming. In doing so, the FI will lose out on the business when compared to its competitors. This is because the competitors would give out loans faster and cheaper using money raised from debt rather than equity.

  • Use long-term debt as the long-term source.

Long-term sources of funds are costlier than short-term sources. This is simply because the probability of anything going wrong with the FI is greater over the longer term. As a result, the providers of money will ask for a higher return than they would for short-term debt. Giving loans to its customer by using long-term debt/long-term sources would be costlier than giving loans using short-term sources of funds.

3. How do financial institutions balance the above?

The stability/risk-lessness in giving out long-term loans and the cost of these long-term loans varies on a spectrum but moves in the opposite direction.

  • To have the highest level of stability, FIs should fund all the long-term loans by equity/long term sources. However, this makes lending a very costly affair as long-term sources of money are costlier than short-term sources. This, in turn, decreases the profits.
  • If the FI uses cheaper short-term funds to give out long-term loans, then it increases returns/profits because the short-term sources of money are cheaper than the long-term sources of money. However, when the FI uses short-term sources of money to give long-term loans to its client, it exposes itself to the risk where providers of short-term money may ask their money back and it will not be able to repay them. This is called asset-liability mismatch or solvency/liquidity risk.

Therefore, the final decision is a tricky one. And, they end up using a mix of long-term and short-term funds, depending upon their ability to convince the short-term fund (CPs and CASA) providers to give them cheaper money and keep rolling it over and over again. This rolling-over facility provides an opportunity to the FI to give long-term loans at a lower cost and in turn, increase its profits.

However, if a FI is unable to instill confidence in short-term fund providers about its ability to repay them whenever they call their money back, then these short-term fund lenders will stay away. As a result, the FI will have to rely on costlier long-term funds and give loans at lower profits.

As the aim of all the FIs is to generate maximum profit, they tend to use cheaper short-term funds as much as possible whether by way of CP or CASA. However, they also need to give the assurance that they are financially stable and can repay the amount whenever asked. The ability of best performing banks to repay the short-term fund providers (CASA) at any time, is reflected in their ability to improve the stickiness of such customers.

This best performing image for high CASA banks is not permanent and if there is any doubt on the ability of the bank to repay CASA at short notice, then banks also face the same fate as that of IL&FS. It is called “Run on the Bank”.

4. How must investors view this?

Instead of looking it as a bank vs. NBFC prism, investors should look at it from the confidence level provided to the short-term fund providers. If any FI provides high confidence to CP/CASA providers, then it will want to and it will be able to fund its long-term loans from short-term funds and in turn, generate high profits for itself/its shareholders. If this confidence ceases to exist, the FI, will eventually face a run on it and eventually bankruptcy.

It is the market perception of the stability of a FI that lets it use short-term funds to fund long-term loans. The sources of money are cheaper, which increases profits. However, whenever any FI overuses short-term funds, then it faces stability (liquidity) risk and results in its bankruptcy. 

You can access more information on Dr Vijay Malik.com and follow him on Twitter.

Disclosure: Dr Vijay Malik is registered with SEBI as a Research Analyst. He does not own any financial interest in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

Add a Comment
Please login or register to post a comment.
ninan joseph
Jun 26 2021 12:40 PM
Continuation of below email

Are you also telling me that the PMC downfall was due to ALM mismatch.

As per Mink

PMC Bank’s collapse and the subsequent revelations have once again laid bare the extent of misgovernance in co-operative banks. The sector needs a quick regulatory fix.

The Hindu
The virtual collapse of Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank following grave financial irregularities has left thousands of depositors in distress. Gautam S. Mengle reports on the crisis and the ongoing fight for justice

Business Today
For the first time the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has admitted that it has noticed three major irregularities in the operations of multi-state Maharashtra & Punjab Co-operative (PMC) Bank that necessitated immediate action under the Section 35A of the RBI Act.

These three violations include major financial irregularities, failure of internal control and systems, and wrongdoing and under-reporting of its (lending) exposure.

Not one soul has written that the downfall of PMC bank was due to AML mismatch.

Just curious, do these articles which are written and posted pass through an "Editor" or is it that all are freelance guys sitting there and posting just like I post in facebook. Dont you have a brand name to protect?

ninan joseph
Jun 26 2021 12:31 PM
Morningstar - Are you sure of this statement
ALM is what led to the downfall of IL&FS.

From what I read in various newspapers and articles it was not as simple as ALM led to the downfall of IL&FS. If this was the case why would I read this

A special court has remanded Ravi Ramaswami Parthasarathy to a three-day police custody in the Rs 1-lakh crore Infrastructure Leasing and Finance Limited (IL&FS).

Extract from Money Life
According to a report from Times of India, the economic offences wing (EOW) contended that the IL&FS group has defaulted in payments to various creditors through a calculated fraud and the total default caused to the entire creditors is approximately a mind-boggling figure of Rs1 lakh crore.

"Making a very hard-hitting statement, the remand note from EOW pointed out that the Union government had to intervene since the activities of the IL&FS group affected the interests of the economy of India. The companies were set up as a vehicle of fraud and innocent depositors were cheated and their livelihood taken away by virtue of the fraud committed by Mr Parthasarathy, who it termed 'kingpin and mastermind'.

In 2019, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) bench at Mumbai had taken note of key findings of the SFIO interim report about the way the IL&FS group conducted its affairs contrary to public interest.

It observed that the committee of directors (COD) from among the now suspended board of directors of IL&FS group abused their powers. Through various acts, including circuitous transactions increased the debt burden across the IL&FS Group.

When major publications have written about this, how could you make a simple, childish statement that IL&FS downfall was due to mismatch in ALM. Are you kidding us or is it June Fool Joke.

In case you are finding it difficult to find out details of IL&FS debacle, please type "IL&FS downfall" in something called "Google" instead of testing our intelligence.

I really wish you would clarify.
© Copyright 2024 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use    Privacy Policy
© Copyright 2024 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. Please read our Terms of Use above. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
As of December 1st, 2023, the ESG-related information, methodologies, tools, ratings, data and opinions contained or reflected herein are not directed to or intended for use or distribution to India-based clients or users and their distribution to Indian resident individuals or entities is not permitted, and Morningstar/Sustainalytics accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for the actions of third parties in this respect.
Company: Morningstar India Private Limited; Regd. Office: 9th floor, Platinum Technopark, Plot No. 17/18, Sector 30A, Vashi, Navi Mumbai – 400705, Maharashtra, India; CIN: U72300MH2004PTC245103; Telephone No.: +91-22-61217100; Fax No.: +91-22-61217200; Contact: Morningstar India Help Desk (e-mail: helpdesk.in@morningstar.com) in case of queries or grievances.