A quick introduction into mortgage banks and covered bonds

Issuing covered bonds differs quite a lot from traditional banking. By Finnish law, the organisation that can issue covered bond is called mortgage bank and mortgage banks often form their own separate companies in the organisation of banks. Banks in Finland can also begin issuing covered bonds by having their existing licence extended to mortgage banking.

In Finland, mortgage banks even have their own legislation (Act on Mortgage Credit Banks 688/2010). According to the Act, a mortgage credit bank is a credit institution in the form of a limited company, the purpose of which is to grant mortgage credits and public-sector credits as well as to issue bonds with mortgage collateral and bonds with public-sector collateral as referred to in the Act. Bonds with mortgage collateral and bonds with public-sector collateral are also simply referred to as covered bonds. This law will actually be renewed soon because of the harmonisation of the EU covered bond framework. The new law is currently going through the ratification process in the Finnish Parliament.

To begin covered bond issuing requires that the bank or financial organisation has a sufficient amount of mortgage-backed consumer or housing company loans. Mortgage banks issue covered bonds which are secured by mortgage loans that meet business criteria (mores specifically, collateral is formed by the interest cash flows of the loans and by repayments of principal), which are offered to the financial markets as an investment target.

In practice, then, covered bonds are a means of raising funds for retail banks, enabling the bank to borrow funds from the financial markets (investors) more cheaply, in other words, at a lower margin than by using other types of collateral. Raising funds in this way is affordable because a covered bond is a highly reliable and safe investment for the investor. Normally, only institutional investors such as pension insurance companies and governments (e.g. the Bank of Finland) can invest in covered bonds. Private investors are able to participate in the investments mainly through trust funds. When the bonds are issued, the bank applies for a credit rating for the investment instrument from a credit rating agency. The received rating is typically very good.

A bank can either have a deposit surplus or a deposit deficit. Finnish banks mainly have deposit deficits, meaning that the difference between their retail deposits and loans to the public is negative. Covered bonds do not offer any notable benefits for a bank with a deposit surplus, since such a bank doesn’t necessarily have the need to seek funding from the market or have anything to gain from it. If there are enough of appropriate mortgage loans, covered bonds are by far the most profitable means of raising funds for banks which are showing a deposit deficit.

Developed by Evitec, Evitec Covered Bonds automates complex processes

The systems used to maintain the covered bond pool have typically been the banks’ own. Normally, they’ve been based on solutions such as reporting systems which are difficult to develop and maintain. In addition, these internal systems often turn the issuance of bonds and the maintenance of the pool into laborious tasks with a poor degree of automation. These manual processes are time-consuming and prone to error. When it comes to covered bond-related things, especially, drawing up reports for various parties, such as credit rating institutions and the financial supervisory authority, can be cumbersome and time-consuming.

Evitec Covered Bonds is a customised ERP system, designed to facilitate the mortgage bank’s maintenance tasks and automatically handle most of their work steps. Among other things, our product automates the regulatory assessment of loans, calculation and analysis of pooling and cash flows, alerts in problem situations and creates reports for business, authorities and credit rating institutions.

The advantage covered bond has over other bank funding instruments is clear: according to one of our clients’ calculations, the decreased costs of raising funds means that our system paid for itself in no more than 18 months.

Evitec Covered Bonds is Finland’s market leader in covered bond pooling systems. Over 40 per cent of Finland’s covered bond base is processed in our system. Financial sector institutions such as S-Pankki, Hypo, Oma Säästöpankki and OP are already using our product. In addition, we are running several sales processes at different phases of the cycle, both in Finland and abroad.

We haven’t rested on our laurels: we are currently modernising our system in order to be able to offer our covered bond pooling system also as a cloud-based SaaS service in the future. Earlier this year, OP issued Finland’s first green covered bond. Our covered bond pooling system ensures that the bond has a sufficient amount of green collateral on a daily basis. The Evitec Covered Bonds product can thus also be used in the pooling of collateral for green bonds, as long as the bank’s reasoning about the greenness of the loan collateral is correct. OP has done great pioneering work in Finland by analysing the greenness of housing collateral, and the results of this analysis are now being used in the pooling system. In the coming years, ESG will be a major theme in the financial sector, so it’s wonderful to be involved in promoting this important issue.

How did we get here and what have we learnt?

The idea of Evitec Covered Bonds saw the light of day in 2010 when the mortgage bank OP-Asuntoluottopankki (OPA) needed a new system for issuing covered bonds. The implementation of the system took a couple of years, and in 2013 OPA introduced the versatile new system which adapted to the intermediate loan model pursued by OP. When it comes to issuing covered bonds, OP is a different type of financial group, as it consists of independent member banks and the group’s central organisation with its subsidiaries.

Initially, the system was supposed to be customised for a specific need OP had, but it didn’t take long for us to realise that there could be a broader demand for the system in Finland. At the time, Finland still had many banks which had a deposit deficit, but which did not have a system for issuing covered bonds. We decided to invest in product development, and in 2016 the Mortgage Society of Finland (Hypo) became Evitec’s second covered bond pooling system client. Hypo was also our first customer to use the so-called own balance sheet model. Hypo extended the bank’s licence to mortgage bank operations and didn’t establish a separate mortgage bank.

After the implementation of Hypo’s covered bonds system, we carried out several implementation projects in a short period of time. The implementation project of Oma Säästöpankki was completed in 2017, and S-Pankki’s system was introduced in 2019.

The hectic years we spent working on the product managed to make the system the market leader in Finland. Simultaneously, the size of Evitec Covered Bonds team has grown from a development team of a couple of people to a financial organisation of more than ten experts. Evitec Covered Bonds’ development team is very familiar with issuing covered bonds, giving us a competitive edge in this business area, which is clearly different from traditional banking. Along the way, we’ve learnt a lot about bank financing and covered bonds.

For us, one of the biggest learning points has been the realisation that if you want to succeed, you need to trust your own vision and not be afraid of embracing new ideas. There was a market gap for covered bonds in Finland. There was no good system in place but at the same time there were several banks which were starting to realise the benefits of using covered bonds for financing. If Evitec had not filled the gap in the market, it would have been filled by someone else. In Finland, as elsewhere, significant system investments are often snatched by large international players, which does not benefit the Finnish economy in the long run. However, we have already set the ball rolling in Europe and have plans of launching Evitec Covered Bonds in the international market.

To learn more about Evitec Covered Bonds, please contact:

Tino Silfver

Financial & Industry Solutions

+358 40 828 9963

Suomen vanhin yksityinen luottolaitos, Hypo, panostaa vahvasti sähköisten palveluiden kehittämiseen. Viime vuonna markkinoille tuotu taloyhtiöiden lainalaskuri palvelee taloyhtiöitä ja isännöitsijöitä. Nyt lanseerattu Hypo Kotibongari yhdistää talouden lainankantokyvyn arvioinnin ja unelmakohteiden listaamisen muutamalla klikkauksella.

Kuvassa vasemmalta Sami Vallinkoski ja Pekka Turunen

Reilu vuosi sitten Hypo pohti uusia keinoja, joilla sen tunnettuus ja kiinnostavuus paranisi. Lähes 160-vuotias asumisen rahoituksen asiantuntijayritys päätti panostaa asunnon vaihtamiseen ja hankkimiseen liittyvään sovellukseen, jollaista ei markkinoilla vielä ollut.

-Otimme työskentelyssä ennen kaikkea markkinoinnillisen näkökulman. Pohdimme, mitä kilpailijamme eivät ole tehneet ja erinäisten aihioiden kautta päädyimme palveluun, joka yhdistää eri kohteet ja lainansaannin. Käydessään asuntonäytössä käyttäjä voi tehdä tarvittavat muistiinpanot ja ottaa valokuvat suoraan sovellukseen, kertoo Hypon pankinjohtaja Sami Vallinkoski.

Alusta alkaen lähtökohtana oli ulottaa sovellus lainanhakuprosessissa siihen vaiheeseen, kun kohdetta halutaan käydä katsomassa tai kierretään näyttöjä. Aiemmin Hypo on tullut mukaan kuvioon siinä kohdin, kun kohteelle tarvitaan rahoitus.

-Kukaan ei halua täyttää pitkiä lainahakemuksia. Sovelluksella täytät vaivihkaa hakemuksen perustiedot ja pääset liikkeelle yhdellä klikkauksella, jatkaa Hypon ICT-päällikkö Pekka Turunen.

Tuttu kumppani uuden haasteen edessä

Toteutus tehtiin monitoimittajaympäristössä, mikä karsi muutamia toimijoita heti alussa pois. Ratkaiseva tekijä toimittajavalinnassa oli lopulta Hypon aiempi kokemus Profit Softwaresta ja luottamus osaamiseen.

-Profit Softwarella oli tästä osa-alueesta kevyimmät referenssit, mutta oikeita kysymyksiä esittämällä asiat vietiin oikeaan suuntaan. Meidän toiveemme ohjasivat tekemistä, toteaa Vallinkoski.

-Kehitys tapahtui yhdessä keskustelun ja luottamuksen kautta. Suurin keskustelu käytiin varmasti liiketoimintakonseptin ja käyttökokemuksen lisäksi teknisestä ympäristöstä. Toki meidän olemassa oleva teknologiamme määritti tekemistä, jatkaa Turunen.

Frontend-toteutuksessa käytettiin Reactia, Reduxia, D3.js:ää, Material-UI:ta, Webpackia ja Apache Cordovaa. Backend-toteutuksessa käytettiin .NET Web API 2:sta ja SQL Serveriä.

Palvelua voi käyttää monipuolisesti rekisteröitymättä. Rekisteröitymisen jälkeen sovelluksella voi mm. jakaa kohdetietoja muille ja ottaa valokuvia. Hypon Kotibongari löytyy mobiilisovelluksena sekä App Storesta että Google Play Storesta. Sitä voi käyttää myös selaimella.

-Yhteistyömme Profit Softwaren kanssa on sujunut kautta aikojen hyvin. Asioita tehdään tehokkaasti ja osaamista on. Tekijöillä oli can do -asenne, mitä ei kaikilla toimittajilla ole, tiivistää Turunen.

Profit Software teki Hypolle mobiilisovelluksen, jossa käyttäjä voi arvioida lainansaantimahdollisuuksiaan ja muodostaa listaa unelmakohteistaan omaa vertailua varten. Projekti toteutettiin monitoimittajaympäristössä kuuden (6) kuukauden aikana.

Suomen Hypoteekkiyhdistys
Hypo on ainoa asumiseen keskittynyt valtakunnallinen luottolaitos Suomessa. Se tarjoaa asiakkailleen (henkilö- ja yritysasiakkaat sekä taloyhtiöt) kaikkia asumisen rahoittamiseen tarvittavia lainapalveluja. Suomen Hypoteekkiyhdistys perustettiin 1860. Se työllistää noin 60 henkilöä.

Profit Software
Profit Software on finanssialalle järjestelmäratkaisuja ja konsulttipalveluita toimittava yritys. Yritys perustettiin vuonna 1992. Toimistot sijaitsevat Espoossa, Tampereella, Porissa, Lahdessa, Tallinnassa ja Tukholmassa. Työllistämme lähes 230 henkilöä.