When I was watching the excellent Adam McKay film The Big Short originally released back in 2015, the first thought to pop into my head was: “Finally a movie that will explain to my parents why we make these systems for banks!” In the film, the actress Margot Robbie, soaking in a bubble bath, explains how the derivatives that launched the financial crisis in the U.S. in 2007 were based on covered bonds. The scene was an ironic take on the fact that few people would normally have the patience to listen to long winded explanations riddled with financial terminology. The product structure was so complex that it concealed as well as concentrated the underlying risks of the housing market.
In Finland, the situation has been better, but the fundamental mechanism is still the same. Our mortgages are mainly financed by foreign investors, not deposits. These investors receive mortgages as collateral for the money they lend. The interest rate on the money provided by the investors depends on the quality of the collateral. The better the collateral, the lower the interest rate. The quality of Finnish housing collateral has been good, but recently a noticeable risk has arisen especially in regions experiencing net outflows. This calls for transparency also in Finland in order to ensure that the collateral meets the investors’ and credit rating institutions’ criteria. At best, the nearly one hundred reports targeted at different agencies are generated automatically, at worst by dozens of people manually typing them into Excel spreadsheets.
The required transparency and quality of reporting is one of the reasons why the process needs a separate system. Another one concerns daily optimisation: Collateral is mobile by nature, as homes are sold and purchased and loans are paid back every day. Insolvency and credit losses are part of the lenders’ daily life. The handling of hundreds of thousands of collateral assets requires that the bank have a safety margin to ensure the availability of collateral. The smaller this safety margin can be made, the more the bank is able to obtain external funding.
Our Evitec Covered Bonds is an Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP system for a bank issuing covered bonds. According to our estimate, our system processes over 40 per cent of Finnish mortgages as it optimises collateral for covered bonds. Our users include OP, the recently listed OmaSp, S-Bank and Hypo (The Mortgage Society of Finland), the only credit institution in Finland specialising in housing. The reliability of the system and service thus has a great social importance, as is the case with Profit Software’s products more broadly. We have comprehensive expertise in mortgage bank IT systems that meet legal requirements. We are happy to help you launch or automatise your business or modernise your existing system.
Perttu Heinonen, SVP Consulting Financial Services, Evitec