Bank Risks 2024

In 2024, financial institutions are navigating a landscape filled with both challenges and opportunities. The financial sector, constantly adapting to new regulations, technological shifts, and global economic changes, now faces a unique blend of challenges—these range from evolving regulatory demands and the advent of AI to unpredictable global politics and economic shifts. Understanding and managing these Bank Risks in  2024 is critical for the stability and integrity of global financial systems. This post explores these risk areas, offering insights and strategies to effectively navigate them, catering to the financial world’s stakeholders, policymakers, and observers in 2024.

Compliance Challenges

In 2024, financial institutions are contending with heightened compliance risks amid an evolving regulatory landscape. The continuous accumulation of regulations, often with limited inter-regulatory coordination, complicates compliance and raises concerns about their collective impact. Banks must invest significant time and resources in system preparations and staff training to meet these demands, including adapting to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), Rule 1071, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulations.

A key focus is the Dodd-Frank Act Section 1071, finalized by the CFPB, which expands reporting and data collection from consumer credit to small business lending. Despite a delay in enforcement following legal challenges, banks still face the significant task of system and software updates for compliance, including standardized data collection for CFPB reporting. This rule is expected to alter small business lending practices substantially, influencing risk assessment and pricing.

The CRA’s final rule poses additional challenges, particularly for smaller banks in limited geographic markets, potentially increasing their credit risk due to competition from nonbank credit providers.

Additionally, the Basel III proposal, set to change how large banks manage risk-based regulatory capital, is anticipated to increase risk-weighted assets, prompting smaller institutions to enhance their risk data and technology systems.

Managing compliance risk effectively is crucial for financial institutions to navigate the complex regulatory environment and avoid potential legal and financial repercussions. Here are several key strategies:

  • Comprehensive Compliance Framework: Establish a robust compliance framework that aligns with the institution’s business model and regulatory requirements. This should include clear policies, procedures, and controls tailored to the specific risks the institution faces.
  • Regular Training and Education: Continuously educate and train employees at all levels about compliance requirements and the importance of adhering to them. This training should be updated regularly to reflect changes in laws and regulations.
  • Effective Risk Assessment: Conduct regular risk assessments to identify and evaluate compliance risks. This includes understanding how changes in the regulatory landscape might affect the institution and adjusting strategies accordingly.
  • Strong Leadership and Culture: Foster a culture of compliance within the organization, led by senior management. Leadership should emphasize the importance of compliance and ethical behaviour, setting the tone from the top.
  • Utilization of Technology: Leverage technology to streamline compliance processes. This could include automated monitoring systems, compliance management software, and data analytics tools to detect and prevent potential compliance violations.
  • Active Monitoring and Auditing: Implement ongoing monitoring and auditing mechanisms to ensure compliance measures are effective. Regular audits help identify compliance gaps and areas for improvement.
  • Effective Communication Channels: Maintain open lines of communication across the organization. Encourage employees to report potential compliance issues and ensure there are mechanisms in place for anonymous reporting.
  • Responsive Compliance Function: Ensure the compliance function is dynamic and responsive. It should be capable of adapting quickly to regulatory changes and emerging risks.
  • External Expertise and Collaboration: Engage with external experts, such as legal counsel and compliance consultants, for specialized advice. Participating in industry groups and forums can also provide insights into best practices and emerging trends.
  • Documentation and Record Keeping: Keep comprehensive records of compliance activities, including training records, audit reports, and documentation of compliance decisions. This can be crucial for demonstrating compliance efforts to regulators.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Involve all stakeholders, including employees, management, and the board, in compliance efforts. Ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities in maintaining compliance.

Interest Rate Dynamics

Interest rate risk is a major concern for financial institutions, particularly due to recent Federal Reserve actions and market volatility. A significant development is the Fed’s provision of over $100 billion in loans to mainly regional banks via its Bank Term Funding Program, initiated after the Silicon Valley Bank crisis. These banks face a crucial deadline to repay these loans, highlighting the acute interest rate risk affecting them.

Higher interest rates have increased deposit costs, narrowing bank profit margins and potentially leading to greater losses, especially if fixed-income investments are not held to maturity. This has also impacted banks’ deposit management strategies, with some opting to let deposits run off due to the higher costs, which poses operational challenges.

Additionally, the financial landscape has experienced significant interest rate volatility, with frequent fluctuations in the 10-year Treasury bond rate. This has prompted many banks to seek asset-liability risk management advice and adopt strategies like pay-fixed swaps to mitigate various market risks.

These conditions, combined with the increased deposit costs, present unique challenges for banks. They affect their ability to originate loans and share credit risks, as seen during the financial uncertainties of the previous year.

Interest rate fluctuations can impact an institution’s earnings and the economic value of its assets and liabilities. Therefore, it is vital for financial institutions to hedge against this risk effectively. Here are some strategies that institutions can employ:

  • Interest Rate Swaps: These are contracts in which two parties exchange cash flows based on different interest rates. For instance, a bank can swap its variable-rate interest payments for fixed-rate payments, thus stabilizing cash flows and reducing exposure to interest rate fluctuations.
  • Asset and Liability Management (ALM): This involves managing the gap between assets and liabilities to minimize the risk of loss from changing interest rates. ALM strategies include matching the durations of assets and liabilities, diversifying the types of interest rates (fixed vs. variable) in the portfolio, and changing the composition of assets and liabilities.
  • Duration Gap Analysis: This technique measures the sensitivity of the value of assets and liabilities to changes in interest rates. Financial institutions can manage their exposure to interest rate changes by adjusting the duration gap.
  • Diversification of Loan Portfolios: By diversifying their loan portfolios across different types of loans with varying interest rate sensitivities, banks can reduce their overall risk exposure to interest rate movements.
  • Regular Monitoring and Adjustments: Continuously monitor market conditions and adjust hedging strategies accordingly. This involves staying informed about economic forecasts, central bank policies, and other factors that can influence interest rates.
  • Strategic Use of Core Deposits: Utilize core deposits, which are typically less sensitive to interest rate changes, to fund lending activities. This can provide a more stable funding source compared to market-based deposits.

Credit Risk Outlook

In the challenging economic climate of 2024, credit risk is a growing concern for financial institutions, with banks facing narrower margins and declining loan quality. Leading economists from major North American banks predict a further deterioration in credit conditions. Despite currently low delinquency rates for consumer and commercial debts, an upward trend is evident, particularly in the commercial real estate (CRE) sector, which is undergoing significant changes.

The consumer shift to online shopping, exacerbated by the pandemic-induced remote work trend, has heavily impacted retail spaces like malls. A critical issue for banks is the high vacancy rates in office buildings. Industry analysis shows about $1.5 trillion in CRE loans maturing soon, with the potential devaluation of office buildings, possibly by 30% or more, due to low rental incomes. This situation poses difficult choices for banks regarding foreclosures or loan modifications.

Financial reports from various banks reflect this trend, with some reporting decreased net income due to higher deposit costs and write-downs of nonperforming CRE loans. Moreover, a rise in nonperforming loans, driven mainly by CRE, is observed, despite a decrease in consumer nonperforming loans.

While large banks hold most CRE loans, regional and community banks are more affected by the deteriorating CRE credit, as it represents a higher proportion of their business. This suggests that smaller banks might face more significant challenges in managing CRE credit risk.

Effective credit risk management and assessment are crucial for financial institutions to maintain financial stability and minimize potential losses. Here are some best practices in this area:

  • Risk Identification and Measurement: Establish a comprehensive process for identifying and measuring credit risk. This includes analyzing the creditworthiness of borrowers, understanding the nature of collateral, and assessing the impact of economic and market conditions on credit risk.
  • Credit Scoring and Rating Systems: Implement robust credit scoring and rating systems to assess borrowers’ risk levels systematically. These systems should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the economic environment and borrower circumstances.
  • Diversification of Credit Portfolio: Diversify the credit portfolio across various sectors, geographies, and borrower types to spread risk. This helps in reducing the impact of a downturn in any specific sector or region on the overall credit portfolio.
  • Setting Credit Limits and Terms: Establish clear guidelines for setting credit limits and terms based on the borrower’s risk profile. This includes setting appropriate interest rates, repayment schedules, and covenants based on the level of risk.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Review: Regularly monitor and review the credit portfolio to identify potential issues early. This should include tracking the performance of individual loans and the overall portfolio, as well as monitoring for signs of deteriorating credit quality.
  • Stress Testing and Scenario Analysis: Conduct stress tests and scenario analyses to understand the potential impact of adverse economic conditions on the credit portfolio. This helps in preparing for and mitigating the effects of economic downturns.
  • Compliance with Regulatory Standards: Ensure adherence to all regulatory requirements related to credit risk management. Stay updated with regulatory changes and incorporate them into the credit risk management framework.
  • Integration of Technology: Utilize advanced analytics, AI, and machine learning tools to enhance credit risk assessment and monitoring. These technologies can provide deeper insights into borrower behaviour and improve the accuracy of risk predictions.
  • Training and Development of Staff: Regularly train staff involved in the credit process on risk management practices and changes in the regulatory environment. This ensures that they are equipped to make informed lending decisions.
  • Transparent Reporting and Communication: Maintain transparent reporting and communication practices regarding the credit portfolio to internal and external stakeholders, including regulators and investors. This builds trust and aids in informed decision-making.

Confronting the New Wave of Cyber Threats in Financial Institutions

The financial sector is significantly impacted by fraud, specifically the rise of AI-enhanced fraud, which presents unique challenges that require innovative responses. As AI technology advances, so do fraudsters’ tactics, necessitating heightened vigilance and adaptation from financial institutions.

This form of fraud manifests in various ways, from AI-generated phishing schemes that convincingly imitate legitimate sources to algorithms mimicking customer behaviour for unauthorized transactions. These sophisticated techniques can easily bypass traditional security measures. A major concern is AI-driven identity theft, where fraudsters use AI to create realistic fake identities to open fraudulent accounts or conduct illegal transactions.

Additionally, AI-powered social engineering attacks are becoming more prevalent. These attacks use AI to collect personal information for targeted, convincing scams.

In response, financial institutions are increasingly relying on AI and machine learning to identify unusual transaction patterns or behaviours indicative of fraud. These systems can process vast data sets in real time, detecting anomalies that human analysts might miss.

Despite advancements in fraud detection, the battle against AI-enhanced fraud is ongoing, with fraudsters continually evolving their tactics. This situation demands constant innovation and diligence in fraud prevention.

Beyond technological measures, educating customers about the risks and prevention of AI-enhanced fraud is crucial. Financial institutions must guide customers in protecting their personal information and recognizing fraudulent schemes.

Collaboration within the financial industry and with regulatory bodies is key to staying ahead of emerging threats. Sharing information on threats and interventions, along with adhering to regulatory standards for data security and fraud prevention, is vital for shaping effective industry practices.

To safeguard against AI-enhanced fraud, financial institutions need to adopt a multi-layered approach that combines advanced technology, employee training, and customer awareness. Here are several strategies to effectively counter this evolving threat:

  • Advanced AI and Machine Learning Tools: Implement AI and machine learning algorithms to detect and prevent fraudulent activities. These tools can analyze large volumes of transactions in real-time, identify patterns, and flag anomalies that could indicate fraudulent behaviour.
  • Enhanced Verification Processes: Strengthen identity verification processes using biometric authentication methods like facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, and voice recognition. These methods are harder to replicate and provide an additional layer of security.
  • Employee Training and Awareness: Regularly train employees on the latest fraud trends and techniques. Ensure that staff members are aware of the potential ways fraudsters might exploit AI and are vigilant in monitoring and reporting suspicious activities.
  • Real-Time Transaction Monitoring: Employ real-time monitoring systems to track and analyze transaction patterns. This allows for the immediate detection of unusual activities, enabling prompt action to prevent fraud.
  • Secure Data Management Practices: Adopt robust data management and encryption practices to protect sensitive customer information from being accessed by unauthorized parties, thus reducing the risk of data being used for fraudulent purposes.
  • Customer Education Programs: Educate customers about the risks of AI-enhanced fraud. Provide them with resources and tips on how to protect their personal information and recognize potential scams.
  • Collaboration and Information Sharing: Collaborate with other financial institutions, technology providers, and regulatory bodies to share information about emerging threats and best practices in fraud prevention.
  • Regular System Audits and Updates: Conduct regular audits of security systems and update them to address new and emerging threats. This includes updating AI algorithms to recognize the latest fraudulent tactics.
  • Incident Response Plan: Develop a comprehensive incident response plan to address any breaches or instances of fraud quickly and effectively. This should include protocols for investigation, customer communication, and remediation.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensure that all anti-fraud measures are compliant with relevant laws and regulations. This includes staying updated with regulatory changes and incorporating them into the institution’s fraud prevention strategy.

Geopolitical Turbulence

In 2024, the financial sector is increasingly alert to the unpredictable nature of geopolitical shocks, as evidenced by the unexpected emergence of COVID-19 and recent banking crises. These events highlight the impact of unforeseen risks on the global economy and financial systems, prompting caution among bankers.

A key concern is the direction of the global economy, influenced by factors like Federal Reserve policies, including interest rate hikes and liquidity measures. These actions could result in either a gradual or abrupt economic adjustment, each with significant implications for financial institutions.

Macroeconomic strategists speculate that the Federal Reserve may lower rates as the economy slows, possibly diverging from other central banks’ actions. Such a scenario could redirect foreign capital away from the U.S., impacting capital inflows and potentially increasing capital costs for regional and community banks.

Inflation trends are also crucial, with high inflation enabling uniform price increases across companies. However, decreasing inflation could expose weaknesses in certain businesses, leading to higher delinquencies and defaults among less robust entities.

Moreover, geopolitical tensions, such as the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza and tensions with China, add to the uncertainty. These situations, along with other unforeseen events, can significantly influence the global financial landscape.

In response to these unpredictable risks, regulatory bodies emphasize the importance of robust geopolitical risk management. This expectation extends even to community banks, which are now required to have frameworks in place to assess and mitigate both domestic and international geopolitical risks. This mandate reflects the growing understanding that geopolitical events, irrespective of their origin, can have cascading effects on the global financial system. Strategies financial institutions can adapt to prepare for the worst include:

  • Scenario Planning and Stress Testing: Engage in regular scenario planning and stress testing. Financial institutions can better understand potential vulnerabilities and develop contingency plans by considering a range of possible events, from economic downturns to military conflicts.
  • Strong Compliance and Monitoring Systems: Maintain robust compliance systems to stay abreast of and adhere to international regulations, such as those related to sanctions and anti-money laundering. Implement advanced monitoring tools to detect and respond quickly to geopolitical changes that could affect the institution.
  • Dynamic Liquidity Management: Ensure flexible liquidity management to respond to sudden changes in market conditions. This includes maintaining adequate liquid assets and access to emergency funding sources.
  • Regular Review of Business Continuity Plans: Regularly update and test business continuity and disaster recovery plans to ensure they are equipped to handle the disruptions caused by geopolitical events. This includes ensuring the resilience of IT systems and supply chains.


2024 poses diverse challenges for financial institutions, including compliance risks, interest rate fluctuations, credit instability, AI-enhanced fraud, and geopolitical shocks. A proactive and strategic approach is crucial to navigate this complex landscape successfully.

Recognizing the unique nature of each institution’s challenges, personalized guidance is key. For specialized strategies and insights to address these issues, click here to schedule a consultation with me and learn how we can help your institution thrive amidst 2024’s financial challenges.