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Basel III Accord - Basel 3 Norms

Contributed by  :

Rajesh Goyal,



What is Basel iii or What is Basel 3 Accord or Meaning and Definition of Basel III Accord:-


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Basel III or Basel 3 released in December, 2010  is the third in the series of Basel Accords.  These accords deal with risk management aspects for the banking sector.   In a nut shell we can say that Basel iii is the global regulatory standard (agreed upon by the members of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision)  on bank capital adequacy, stress testing and market liquidity risk.   (Basel I and Basel II are the earlier versions of the same, and were less stringent)


What does Basel III is all About ?


According to Basel Committee on Banking Supervision "Basel III is a comprehensive set of reform measures, developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, to strengthen the regulation, supervision and risk management of the banking sector".


Thus, we can say that Basel 3 is only a continuation of effort initiated by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision to enhance the banking regulatory framework under Basel I and Basel II.   This latest Accord now seeks to improve the banking sector's ability to deal with financial and economic stress, improve risk management and strengthen the banks' transparency.



What are the objectives / aims of the Basel III  measures ?


Basel 3 measures aim to:

  • →  improve the banking sector's ability to absorb shocks arising from financial and economic stress, whatever the source

  • →  improve risk management and governance

  • →  strengthen banks' transparency and disclosures.


Thus we can say that Basel III guidelines are aimed at to improve the ability of banks to withstand periods of economic and financial stress as the new guidelines are more stringent than the earlier requirements for capital and liquidity in the banking sector.



How Does Basel III Requirements Will Affect Indian Banks :


The Basel III which is to be implemented by banks in India as per the guidelines issued by RBI from time to time, will be challenging task not only for the banks but also for GOI.  It is estimated that Indian banks will be required to rais Rs 6,00,000 crores in external capital in next nine years or so i.e. by 2020 (The estimates vary from organisation to organisation).   Expansion of capital to this extent will affect the returns on the equity of these banks specially public sector banks.  However, only consolation for Indian banks is the fact that historically they have maintained their core and overall capital well in excess of the regulatory minimum.



What are Three Pillars of Basel II Norms or What are the changes in Three Pillars of Basel iii Accord ?


Basel III: Three Pillars Still Standing :  


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Any one who has ever heard about Basel I and II,  is most likely must have heard about Three Pillars of Basel.   Three Pillar of Basel still stand under Basel 3.  

Basel III has essentially  been designed to address the weaknesses that become too obvious during the 2008 financial crisis world faced.   The intent  of the Basel Committee seems to prepare the banking industry for any future economic downturns.. The framework enhances bank-specific measures and includes macro-prudential regulations to help create a more stable banking sector.



The basic structure of Basel III remains unchanged with three mutually reinforcing pillars.


Pillar 1 : Minimum Regulatory Capital Requirements based on Risk Weighted Assets (RWAs) : Maintaining capital calculated through credit, market and operational risk areas.

Pillar 2 :  Supervisory Review Process : Regulating tools and frameworks for dealing with peripheral risks that banks face.

Pillar 3: Market Discipline :   Increasing the disclosures that banks must provide to increase the transparency of banks



What are the Major Changes Proposed in Basel III over earlier Accords i.e. Basel I and Basel II?

What are the Major Features of Basel III ?



(a) Better Capital Quality :   One of the key elements of Basel 3 is the introduction of  much stricter definition of capital.  Better quality capital means the higher loss-absorbing capacity.   This in turn  will mean that banks will be stronger, allowing them to better withstand periods of stress.


(b) Capital Conservation Buffer:    Another key feature of Basel iii is that now banks will be required to hold a capital conservation buffer of 2.5%.  The aim of  asking to build conservation buffer is to ensure that banks maintain a cushion of capital that can be used to absorb losses during periods of financial and economic stress.


(c) Countercyclical Buffer:   This is also one of the key elements of Basel III.   The countercyclical buffer has been introducted with the objective to increase capital requirements in good times and decrease the same  in bad times.  The buffer will slow banking activity when it overheats and will encourage lending when times are tough i.e. in bad times.  The buffer will range from 0% to 2.5%, consisting of common equity or other fully loss-absorbing capital.


(d) Minimum Common Equity and Tier 1 Capital Requirements :   The minimum requirement for common equity, the highest form of loss-absorbing capital, has been raised under Basel III from  2% to 4.5% of total risk-weighted assets.  The overall Tier 1 capital requirement, consisting of not only common equity but also other qualifying financial instruments, will also increase from the current minimum of 4% to 6%.   Although the minimum total capital requirement will remain at the current 8% level, yet the required total capital will increase to 10.5% when combined with the conservation buffer.


(e) Leverage Ratio:     A review of the financial crisis of 2008 has indicted  that the value of many assets fell quicker than assumed from historical experience.   Thus, now Basel III rules include a leverage ratio to serve as a safety net.  A leverage ratio is the relative amount of capital to total assets (not risk-weighted).   This aims to put a cap on swelling of leverage in the banking sector on a global basis.   3%  leverage ratio of Tier 1 will be tested before a mandatory leverage ratio is introduced in January 2018.


(f) Liquidity Ratios:  Under Basel III, a framework for liquidity risk management will be created. A new Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) and Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR) are to be introduced in 2015 and 2018, respectively.


(g) Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI) : As part of the macro-prudential framework, systemically important banks will be expected to have loss-absorbing capability beyond the Basel III requirements. Options for implementation include capital surcharges, contingent capital and bail-in-debt.



Comparison of Capital Requirements under Basel II and Basel III :


Requirements Under Basel II Under Basel III
Minimum Ratio of Total Capital To RWAs 8% 10.50%
Minimum Ratio of Common Equity to RWAs 2% 4.50% to 7.00%
Tier I capital to RWAs 4% 6.00%
Core Tier I capital to RWAs 2% 5.00%
Capital Conservation Buffers to RWAs None 2.50%
Leverage Ratio None 3.00%
Countercyclical Buffer None 0% to 2.50%
Minimum Liquidity Coverage Ratio None TBD (2015)
Minimum Net Stable Funding Ratio None TBD (2018)
Systemically important Financial Institutions Charge None TBD (2011)



Click Here for:  TimeLine For Implementation of Basel III ( Phase in Arrangement for Basel III )


Click Here for:  Basel iii Accord for Capital Adequacy - Summary



The Central banks of individual countries, which decide to implement Basel III norms, will issue their own norms and timeframes for implementation of the above broad goals to be achieved.   In India the same are issued by Reserve Bank of India.  Originally, RBI had issued draft guidelines. However, now final guidelines have been issued in May 2012, and banks have been asked to implement the same as per schedule given by RBI. 



Click Here to View : RBI Guidelines for Implementation of Basel III Guidelines - An overview


Click Here For :   News For Basel III Implementation  / News for Basel 3 Implementation