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Asset-liability match concerns likely to drive banks to ABS

Downtown Manhattan skyline, New York City, a view from Brooklyn

Banks need short-dated liquid paper to prevent asset-liability mismatches, says Ares exec at DealCatalyst event

The US securitization market could prove to be what banks need to prevent a mismatch of assets and liabilities in a higher rates environment, Joel Holsinger of Ares Management told delegates at DataCatalyst’s US Specialty Lender Finance conference in New York City on Monday.

More banks are in need of short-duration assets, and that is increasing the necessity for banks to turn to ABS, according to Holsinger, partner and co-head of alternative credit at Ares.

“Why is the ABS market going to get really big?” he told the audience. “They [banks] need ABS, just like the insurance market needs the ABS market.“

Holsinger said that the transition that has happened among US banks amid sharply rising interest rates would “lead to a larger ABS market”, during the keynote fireside chat about the growing role of asset-based investing.

The asset-liability mismatch has become an even more pressing concern for banks since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in March. Unlike private credit investors or insurance companies, the banking sector is the “one area [where assets and liabilities] are not matched“, said Holsinger.

“What’s their duration? If you can’t answer that you can’t match it,“ he said. “Is it a day, when $45bn ran out of SVB? Or is it seven years which is [how] they used to model it. If you’re a bank CFO, the reason you do not sleep is you have no clue what your duration is.“

In the short term, banks are carrying out capital relief trades and selling portfolios, but in the long term they could head to the ABS market.

“You [the banks] have to go more liquid [...], you have to sit there and go shorter duration cos you know you’re too long, and you have to go floating rate because you’ve just realized your liabilities are floating rate,“ he said.

Some banks still have three and half year assets with yields locked of 3%, while the cost of their liabilities is going up by 40bp-50bp a quarter, according to Holsinger.

Short duration and high yielding ABS paper could be therefore a safe haven for banks that want more liquid assets without long duration risk. Moreover, these banks may seek floating-rate paper to help deal with the floating cost of their liabilities.