Low credit risk operational simplification
IFRS 9 contains an important simplification that, if a financial instrument has low credit risk, then an entity is allowed to assume at the reporting date that no significant increases in credit risk have occurred. The low credit risk concept was intended, by the IASB, to provide relief for entities from tracking changes in the credit risk of high quality financial instruments. Therefore, this simplification is only optional and the low credit risk simplification can be elected on an instrument-by-instrument basis.
This is a change from the 2013 ED, in which a low risk exposure was deemed not to have suffered significant deterioration in credit risk. The amendment to make the simplification optional was made in response to requests from constituents, including regulators. It is expected that the Basel Committee SCRAVL consultation document will propose that sophisticated banks should only use this simplification rarely for their loan portfolios.
For low risk instruments, the entity would recognise an allowance based on 12-month ECLs. However, if a financial instrument is not considered to have low credit risk at the reporting date, it does not follow that the entity is required to recognise lifetime ECLs. In such instances, the entity has to assess whether there has been a significant increase in credit risk since initial recognition that requires the recognition of lifetime ECLs.
The standard states that a financial instrument is considered to have low credit risk if: [IFRS 9.B5.22]
- The financial instrument has a low risk of default
- The borrower has a strong capacity to meet its contractual cash flow obligations in the near term
- Adverse changes in economic and business conditions in the longer term may, but will not necessarily, reduce the ability of the borrower to fulfil its contractual cash flow obligations Low credit risk operational simplification
A financial instrument is not considered to have low credit risk simply because it has a low risk of loss (e.g., for a collateralised loan, if the value of the collateral is more than the amount lent (see collateral) or it has lower risk of default compared with the entity’s other financial instruments or relative to the credit risk of the jurisdiction within which the entity operates.