ALLL update: When is a loan modification a "Troubled Debt Restructuring"?

One of the ways the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses (ALLL) is impacted is when a financial institution grants a concession through modification of the terms of a loan due to the financial difficulty of the borrower. This is called a Troubled Debt Restructure (TDR).

Understanding whether a particular concession is material enough to qualify the loan as a TDR, or whether the cause of the concession is truly the financial difficulty of the borrower, is critical in determining the appropriate balance for the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses.

And since that balance determines the expense, ‘Provision for Loss’, which determines profits for the period, which determines capital levels…the cascading impact of the wrong decision on a TDR can be significant.

Further, if an examiner or outside auditor does not think your bank or credit union is getting this right, it reduces confidence in the entire ALLL and in other major judgement areas as well…another cascading impact.

Two elements

Concession

Just changing terms does not mean you have made a concession. If your financial institution renegotiates to a lower interest rate because you want to keep the customer who could get that lowered rate elsewhere, that is not a concession. That is just good business.

But if you drop the interest rate or extend payments or allow interest-only for a short period which results in terms so favorable the borrower could not get them elsewhere, that is a concession.

But wait, there is more…

Financial Difficulty

If you make a concession just to keep a customer because you don’t want to lose their business, but they are not in financial difficulty, then it is not a Troubled Debt Restructure.

Some of the indicators that a borrower may be in financial difficulty even though they are currently paying your loan as agreed include

  • they are out of compliance with another loan
  • you have updated your cashflow forecast and it does not appear they will be able to continue paying your loan as agreed
  • they have filed for bankruptcy
  • their CPA-prepared financial statements indicate in the CPA letter that there is substantial doubt that the company is a going concern

So what’s a financial institution to do?

Make sure you are current on the rules for TDRs. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued an update, Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2011-02, Receivables (Topic 310): A Creditor’s Determination of Whether a Restructuring Is a Troubled Debt Restructuring, that is effective for nonpublic entities for annual periods ending on or after Dec. 15, 2012.

Be sure your software solution for the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses (ALLL) handles TDRs correctly. (I like Sageworks Surety.) Identify correctly which impaired loans should be selected for TDR status. Document your thinking on why, or why not, you will treat that loans as a TDR.

The more transparent your thought process and decision-making, particularly if the examiners and outside auditors agree with your findings, the better.

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