Accounting and margin for repurchase and resale agreements

Type: Rules Notice> Guidance Note
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Member Regulation Policy

Executive Summary

Effective Date: December 31, 2021

IIROC is publishing guidance to highlight those areas concerning the accounting and margin calculations for repurchase and resale agreements.

Table of contents
  1. What is the purpose of repurchase agreement transactions?

Repurchase agreements or "repos" are one of the principal financing techniques used to finance debt inventory positions that primary and secondary dealers purchase at auction and through other trading activities.

Repurchase agreements are two-legged transactions that involve the "sale" of a security at a specified amount with a simultaneous agreement to "repurchase" the security at the same amount plus finance costs at a specified future date. An interest rate is negotiated and interest expense is accrued by the seller-borrower over the life of the contract.

  1. What is the purpose of reverse repurchase agreement transactions?

In a reverse repurchase agreement or "reverse repo", the purchaser of securities agrees to resell the securities, usually within a specified time, at a specified amount. This transaction is the opposite of a repurchase transaction. Instead of assuming the perspective of a seller-borrower, it takes the view of a buyer-lender.

Banks and other financial institutions mainly lend money to bond dealers and receive as collateral Treasury Bills or other Government debt securities as an integral part of their secured lending or reverse repo activities. However, brokers may also enter into reverse repos to meet delivery for a Dealer's short positions or assist institutional clients finance their investments.

  1. What is a "matched book" transaction and how does it involve "playing the spread"?

Many Dealer Members (Dealers) enter into simultaneous repurchase and reverse repurchase agreements with different counterparties, using the same quantity of the underlying securities for the same time period. This "matched-book" transaction is an effort by a Dealer to profit by obtaining a positive interest spread - that is, a higher rate on the reverse repurchase transaction than the rate paid on the repurchase transaction.

To the extent that the dates of maturity do not match, sometimes referred to as a "miss-matched book", then the risk in a changing interest rate environment is that the expiration of one side of the transaction will force a new spread which may be disadvantageous due to the impact of market conditions. This is in effect a speculative position on the funding rate of the underlying securities and as with any unhedged position, losses will be incurred if interest rates go against the speculator.

  1. What is the pricing and interest rate mechanism for repos and reverse repos?

The cash transferred in a repo (i.e. the "sale" price) is generally the current market value of the securities including accrued interest serving as collateral, which may be reduced by a discount or margin. Buyer-lenders often require margins to protect themselves from a decline in market value of the collateral during the term of the agreement, since the actual market value of the collateral may be less than the collateral value assigned to the securities at inception. The size of the margin depends on many factors, including credit risk of the client and market risk of the security. Margins generally range from 1% to 5% of the security's market value.

When the "repurchase" price is the same as the "sale" price, the interest or repo rate on the repo is generally specified in the agreement and paid separately. In other agreements, the repurchase amount may be higher than the initial sale amount and have no stated rate of interest. The interest factor or yield in these instances is built into the repurchase amount. For maturities of one day, the repo rate is generally slightly lower than money market call loan rates offered by the chartered banks. Maturities may range from as long as 30 to 90 days, and in some cases longer. These transaction with a fixed maturity are referred to as "term repos" or "term reverse repos". When the maturity date of the transaction is designed to conform to the maturity of the underlying security, this is known as "repo-to-maturity".

  1. How should "repo" transactions be reported for regulatory accounting purposes?

The terms of virtually all repo and reverse repo agreements do not transfer the risks and the rewards of ownership of future economic benefits of the underlying securities to the buyer-lender at the time of transfer. One of the terms is that the interest charged by the buyer-lender on this transaction is calculated on the amount of the cash proceeds remitted to the seller-borrower. It is not equivalent to the interest earned on the face value of the securities themselves during the period held by the buyer-lender. Any coupon interest earned during this period is forwarded to the transferor (seller-borrower) who is considered to be the owner of the securities.

Although the legal form of this transaction is a sale and repurchase, in substance, the seller-borrower borrows the proceeds of the sale from the buyer-lender for a brief period and in turn transfers an equivalent amount of securities (collateral) to the transferee. The transferor agrees at the time of transfer to repurchase the securities at a predetermined amount, not the market price. Had the market price been used and the gain or loss accrued to the transferee (buyer-lender), this would support the argument for treating the transfer as a sale. However, since this is not the case, repo and reverse repo transactions must be accounted for as financings.

For regulatory reporting purposes, a repurchase agreement is not accounted for as a sale, even though the confirmation sent to the contra-party will read that the transaction is a sale subject to an agreement to repurchase the same or substantially identical securities. Securities owned that are sold by the Dealer subject to a repurchase agreement are treated as collateral for financing transactions (similar to a call loan) and not as sales of trading or inventory positions. Therefore, for securities owned, they should continue to be reported as inventory, of the Dealer at market value, with the amount of the repurchase agreement reflected as a liability. Financing costs should be accrued over the life of the contract.

A reverse repurchase agreement is the purchase of a security at a specified amount with an agreement to resell the same or substantially identical security at a definite amount at a specific future date. For financial reporting purposes, the transaction involving the same or substantially identical securities is treated as a receivable collateralized by the security purchased, not as part of the buyer's trading or inventory account. See Appendix A for detailed examples of repurchase and reverse repurchase accounting entries and margin calculations.

  1. What is the purpose for written agreements for repos and reverse repos?

Any legal recourse for a Repurchase or Reverse Repurchase financing transaction would be better defined if the transaction is supported by a written agreement. It is recommended that as a minimum, any such agreement contain provisions which allow parties to maintain the required margins and default remedies. These provisions in a Repo or Reverse Repo agreement provide protection to either party to act immediately in the event of adverse market movements for securities pledged as collateral and sets out an agreed upon course of action in the event of default by either party. The Capital Markets Committee of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada (a predecessor policy advisory committee to the FOAS Capital Formula Subcommittee of IIROC) developed a master industry Repurchase/Reverse Repurchase Transaction Agreement for Dealers to use and IIROC has subsequently updated it.

The master repurchase/reverse repurchase agreement further provides that all repo transactions with the same counterparty conducted under the auspices of the agreement constitute a single business and contractual relationship. This entitles the Dealer and the counterparty to the repo transactions to net obligations of all such transactions against each other in the event of default by either party. For regulatory accounting and margining, this provision in the agreement would allow Dealers to net the margin requirements and money balances for all outstanding repo and reverse repo transactions with the same counterparty.

  1. What are the risks and margin requirements for repos and reverse repos?

  2. Market risk and inventory margin

All securities are subject to market risk in that their market prices are subject to change. Security holdings of Dealers are marked to market and unrealized gains and losses in respect to these holdings are accounted for in the profit and loss calculations of the Dealer. To the extent that a Dealer enters into a financing transaction by selling securities owned, subject to repurchase at a predetermined amount and not the prevailing market price in the future, does not absolve the Dealer from market risk as it remains the beneficial owner of the securities. Securities owned that are used as collateral in a repo financing transaction remain subject to market price changes and must continue to be accounted for as securities owned by the Dealer and margined according to the rates prescribed in Series 5000.

In the case of securities borrowed and used as collateral in a repurchase transaction, the Dealer is not the beneficial owner of the securities and is thereby not subject to market risk for any principal position. The same applies to securities purchased subject to resale, or reverse repos. On a trade date basis, the Dealer has no principal security position and is considered "flat" the security. As there is no principal security position subject to market risk, no inventory margin is required.

  1. Term risk and margin

Term risk relates to the risk associated with a Dealer locking into a financing position at a fixed interest rate for a specified term. Entering into a financing transaction for a predetermined fixed period of time without the ability to adjust the financing interest rate during the term is analogous to owning or selling short an interest bearing security having the same term to maturity and being exposed to interest rate movements until maturity.

Section 5903 deals with the concept of term risk for repurchase/reverse repurchase transactions by equating the term and amount of cash payable or receivable on the financing transaction to the margin otherwise required in owning or selling short Canadian sovereign debt of the same amount and maturity. Term risk margin applies only to financing transactions with a fixed interest rate and term greater than five business days. For example, if a financing transaction having a remaining term of 28 days and a repo balance payable in the amount of $480,500, the term risk margin required for the repo would be calculated as $369 [480,500 x 1% x 28/365].

In order to recognize the hedging of term risk, such as in a "matched book" repo/reverse repo transaction, term risk margin offsets for the repo balance payable and reverse repo balance receivable are calculated on a basis consistent with the margin offset rules allowed for long and short government debt securities having the same market value and margin rate category which allows the netting of the margin.

Margin calculated for term risk should be disclosed as part of margin required for securities owned and sold short on Schedule 2 of Form 1.

  1. Counterparty risk and margin

Counterparty risk is the risk associated in the event that a borrower may not repay the loan. There is a risk that a buyer-lender who has sold or otherwise transferred the securities to third parties will not have sufficient resources at the maturity of the agreement to regain possession of the securities. There is also a risk that the seller-borrower will not have sufficient funds to repay the loan (repurchase the securities).

The notes and instructions to Schedules 1, 5 and 7 of Form 1 set out the counterparty margin requirements for all financing transactions. These margin rules differentiate between a repo transaction that is supported by a written repurchase/reverse repurchase agreement and one that is not. A written agreement must set out the legal remedies in the event of default and the right of margin maintenance should the price of the collateral increase or decrease thereby resulting in over/under collateralization of the loan.

IIROC implemented amendments to Schedules 1 and 7 on September 1, 20201 to allow Dealer Members to treat certain agency tri-party securities repurchase and reverse repurchase arrangements, for margin purposes, as if the arrangement was an equivalent principal arrangement executed between a Dealer Member and the agent.

  1. Applicable Rules

IIROC Rules this Guidance Note relates to:

  • Series 5000,
  • Rule 4600,
  • section 5903,
  • Notes and Instructions to Schedule 1 of Form 1,
  • Notes and Instructions to Schedule 2 of Form 1,
  • Notes and Instructions to Schedule 5 of Form 1, and
  • Notes and Instructions to Schedule 7 of Form 1.
  1. Previous Guidance Note

This Guidance Note replaces C-77 - Accounting and Margin for Repurchase and Resale Agreements.

  1. Related documents

This Guidance Note was published under Notice 21-0190 - IIROC Rules, Form 1 and Guidance.

  1. Appendices

Appendix A - Example of Repurchase and Reverse Repurchase Transactions

  • 1. Notice 20-0179 – Amendments to Notes and Instructions to Schedules 1 and 7 of Form 1 regarding agency tri-party arrangements