Note 3 - Critical estimates and assessments concerning the use of accounting principles

In the preparation of the Group accounts the management makes accounting estimates, discretionary assessments and assumptions that bear on the effect of the application of the accounting principles and hence the amounts booked for assets, liabilities, income and expenses. Estimates and discretionary assessments are evaluated continuously and are based on empirical experience and expectations of events which, as of the balance sheet date, are deemed likely to occur in the future.

Classification of financial instruments
Financial assets are classified either at fair value through other comprehensive income (OCI), at amortised cost or at fair value through profit and loss. The bank determines the classification based on characteristics of the asset’s contractual cash flows and the business model under which the asset is managed.

In order to classify a financial asset the bank must determine whether the contractual cash flows from the asset are exclusively payment of interest and principal on the outstanding amount.

Principal is measured at fair value of the asset upon first-time recognition. Interest consists of payment for the time value of money, for credit risk associated with outstanding principal in a particular period, and for other loan risks and costs, in addition to a profit margin. If the bank establishes that the contractual cash flows from an asset are not exclusively payment for interest and principal, the asset shall be classified as measured at fair value through profit and loss.

When classifying financial assets, the bank establishes the business model utilised for each portfolio of assets that are managed collectively to achieve the same business objective. The business model reflects how the bank manages its financial assets and the degree to which the cash flows are generated through collection of the contractual cash flows, sale of financial assets or both. The bank establishes the business model through use of scenarios that can with reasonable likelihood be expected to occur. Establishment of the business model requires the application of discretionary judgement and an assessment of all available information at the point in time in question.

A portfolio of financial assets is classified in a “hold to collect” business model where the bank’s primary aim is to hold these assets in order to collect their contractual cash flows rather than to sell them. Where the bank’s objective is obtained through both collecting and selling the assets, the assets will be classified in a “hold to collect and sell” business model. In such a business model, both collection of contractual cash flows and sale of assets will be integral elements for achieving the bank’s objective for the portfolio concerned.

Financial assets are measured at fair value through profit and loss if they do not fall within either a “hold to collect” business model or a “hold to collect or sell” business model.

Losses on loans and guarantees
The Bank rescores its loan portfolio monthly. Customers showing objective evidence of loss due to payment default, impaired creditworthiness or other objective criteria are subject to individual assessment and calculation of loss. Should the Bank’s calculations show that the present value of the discounted cash flow based on the effective interest rate at the time of estimation is below the book value of the loan, the loan is assigned to stage 3 and a write-down is performed for the calculated loss. A high degree of discretionary judgement is required in order to assess evidence of loss, and the estimation of amounts and timing of future cash flows with a view to determining a calculated loss is affected by this judgement. Changes in these factors could affect the size of the provision for loss. In cases where collateral values are tied to specific objects or industries that are in crisis, collateral will have to be realised in illiquid markets, and in such cases assessment of collateral values may be encumbered with considerable uncertainty.

For loans in stage 1 and 2 a calculation is made of the expected credit loss using the bank’s loss model based on estimates of probability of default (PD) and loss given default (LGD), as well as exposure (EAD). The bank uses the same PD model as in IRB, but with unbiased calibration, i.e. without safety margins, as a basis for assessment of increased credit risk. The PD estimate represents a 12-month probability.

Write-downs for exposures in stage 1 will be calculation of one-year’s expected loss, while for exposures in stage 2, loss is calculated over lifetime.

The most important input factors in the bank’s loss model that contribute to significant changes in the loss estimate and are subject to a high degree of discretionary judgement are the following: 

  • Use of forward-looking information and projection of macroeconomic variables for multiple scenarios on a probability-weighted basis
  • Establishing what constitutes a significant increase in credit risk for a loan.

Use of forward-looking information
Measurement of expected credit loss for each stage requires both information on events and current conditions as well as expected events and future economic conditions. Estimation and use of forward-looking information requires a high degree of discretionary judgement. Each macroeconomic scenario that is utilised includes a projection for a five-year period. Our estimate of expected credit loss in stage I and 2 is a probability-weighted average of three scenarios: base case, best case and worst case. The base scenario have been developed with a starting point in observed defaults and losses over the past three years, adjusted to a forward-looking estimate of the development that is slightly above the observed defaults and losses over the past 3 years.

Each macroeconomic scenario that is used includes a projection on a five-year period. Our estimate of expected credit loss in stage 1 and 2 is a probability-weighted average of three scenarios: Baseline, Upside and Downside. The baseline scenario has been developed with a basis in observed defaults and losses over the past three years, discretionally adjusted to an unbiased estimate of the development that lies somewhat over observed non-performance and loss over the last three years. The development in the Upside and Downside scenario is prepared with the help of adjustment factors where the development in economic situation is projected with the help of assumptions regarding how much the probability of default (PD) or loss given default (LGD) will increase or be reduced compared with the baseline scenario over a five-year period. A basis is taken in observations over the past 15 years, where Downside reflects the expected default and loss level in a crisis situation with PD and LGD levels that are applied in conservative stressed scenarios for other purposes in the bank’s credit management.

In addition, assumptions with regard to repayment profile for exposures classified to stage 2 are also employed. A lower rate of repayment is assumed in the weakest scenario than in the other two scenarios.

The scenarios are weighted with a basis in our best estimate of the probability of the various outcomes represented. The estimates are updated quarterly and were as follows as per the estimates at 31 December 2019:


Portfolio Base Case Worst Case Best Case
Retail Market 80% 10% 10%
Corporate excl. Agriculture and offshore 80% 10% 10%
Agriculture 75% 15% 10%
Offshore 70% 15% 15%

For the offshore portfolio, separate assessments are made with regard to probability of default under various scenarios and associated realisation values. In these assessments the various offshore segments – supply, subsea and seismic – have different scenario weights. Consistent assumptions are used with regard to expected developments in rates, utilisation levels and realisation values for vessels in the various scenarios where the vessels’ current and expected contractual situation is assessed.

If the downside scenario’s probability were doubled at the expense of the baseline scenario at the end of 2019, this would have entailed an increase in loss provisions of NOK 98 million for the parent bank and NOK 113 million for the group. A corresponding doubling of the upside scenario’s probability at the expense of the baseline scenario at the end of 2019 would have entailed a reduction in loss provisions of NOK 21 million for the parent bank and NOK 22 million for the group.


Portfolio Increase in
accrual for
losses when
probability for
worst case
is double
Increase in
accrual for
losses when
probability for
worst case
is 100 percent
Reduction in
accrual for
losses when
probability for
best case
is double
Reduction in
accrual for
losses when
probability for
best case
is 100 percent
Retail Market 27 mill 242 mill -3 mill -53 mill
Corporate excl. Agriculture and offshore 43 mill 393 mill -8 mill -114 mill
Agriculture 8 mill 49 mill -1 mill -14 mill
Offshore 20 mill 121 mill -9 mill -122 mill
Total Parent Bank 98 mill 805 mill -21 mill -255 mill
SpareBank 1 Finans Midt-Norge 16 mill 153 mill -1 mill -2 mill
Total Group 113 mill 958 mill -22 mill -257 mill

Determination of significant increase in credit risk:
The assessment of what constitutes a significant increase in credit risk requires a large degree of discretionary judgement. Movements between stage 1 and stage 2 are based on whether the instrument’s credit risk on the balance sheet date has increased significantly relative to the date of first-time recognition. This assessment is done with a basis in the instrument’s lifetime PD, and not expected losses. The assessment is done for each individual instrument. Our assessment is performed at least quarterly, based on three factors:

  1. The bank uses both absolute and relative changes in PD as criteria for removal to stage 2. A change of more than 150% in PD is considered to be a significant change in credit risk. In addition, the PD must at minimum be more than 0.6 percentage points.
  2. An additional quantitative assessment is made based on whether the exposure has a significantly increased credit risk if it is subject to special monitoring or forbearance.
  3. In addition, customers with payments between 30-90 days overdue will in all cases be moved to stage 2.

If any of the above factors indicate that a significant increase in credit risk has occurred, the instrument is moved from stage 1 to stage 2.

See also note 2 on accounting principles and note 7 on risk factors.

Fair value of equity interests
Assets recognised at fair value through profit and loss will mainly be securities traded in an active market. An active market is defined as a market where homogeneous products are traded, where willing buyers and sellers are normally present at all times, and where prices are accessible to the general public. Shares quoted in a regulated market place fit in with the definition of an active market. A market with a large spread between bid and ask prices and where trading is quiet may pose a challenge. Some key shares will be based on in-house valuations, transaction prices or external analyses of the company. Such shares are valued using acknowledged valuation techniques. These include the use of discounted cash flows or comparative pricing where similar, listed, companies are used (multiple pricing) to determine the value of the unlisted company. Such valuations may be encumbered with uncertainty. Market values will in the main be based on valuations or the latest known trade in the share. Shares where fair value cannot be measured with reasonable security is continued at cost price.

Fair value of financial derivatives and other financial instruments
Fair value of derivatives is usually determined using valuation models where the price of the underlying, for example interest rates or exchange rates, is obtained in the market. When measuring financial instruments for which observable market data are not available, the Group makes assumptions regarding what market participants would use as the basis for valuing similar financial instruments. The valuations require extensive use of discretionary judgement inter alia when calculating liquidity risk, credit risk and volatility. Changes in these factors will affect the estimated fair value of the Group's financial instruments. For further information, see note 27 Measurement of fair value of financial instruments.

For options, volatilities will either be observed implicit volatilities or estimated volatilities based on historical movements in the price of the underlying instrument. In cases where the Bank’s risk position is approximately neutral, middle rates will be used. “Neutral risk position” means for example that interest rate risk within a maturity band is virtually zero. Where market prices that are obtained are based on transactions with lower credit risk, this will be taken into account by amortising the original price difference measured against such transactions over the period to maturity.

The Group conducts tests to assess possible impairment of goodwill annually or in the event of indications of impairment. Assessment is based on the Group's value in use. The recoverable amount from cash-flow-generating units is determined by calculating discounted future cash flows. The cash flows are based on historical earnings and expectations of future factors and include suppositions and estimates of uncertain factors. The outcome of the impairment tests depends on estimates of discount rates which are set discretionarily based on information available on the balance sheet date.

Regarding goodwill related to Romsdals Fellesbank, the portfolio is regarded as integrated in the Bank's other lending and deposit operations, and, the lowest level for the cash generating unit is the segments Retail Market and Corporate Market. Goodwill has been allocated to the segments based on their share of the loan portfolio. A net cash flow is estimated based on earnings in the Bank's loan and deposit portfolio. A five-year cash flow prognosis have been developed using expected growth, and a terminal value without growth thereafter. Cash flows are discounted with a discount rate (before tax rate) of 2 per cent.

Calculations show that the value of discounted cash flows exceeds recognised goodwill by an ample margin.

Other goodwill in the Group is calculated based on average earnings in the market area and is discounted at the risk-free interest rate + the risk premium for similar businesses (12-14 per cent).

Acquisition of another company is accounted for by the acquisition method. This method requires a full purchase price allocation (PPA) in which the purchase price is allocated to identified assets and liabilities in the acquired company. Excess values beyond those allocated to identified assets and liabilities are booked as goodwill. Any deficit values are, after careful assessment, recognised as income through profit/loss in the year of the acquisition (badwill). The analyses contain both concrete calculations and use of best judgement in arriving at the fairest possible value of the acquired companies at the time of acquisition. While some uncertainty invariably attends estimation items, they are supported by determinations of expected cash flows, comparable transactions in previous periods etc. See also note 40 on business acquisitions/business combinations.

Companies held for sale
SpareBank 1 SMN's strategy is that ownership resulting from defaulted exposures should at the outset be of brief duration, normally not longer than one year. Work on selling such companies is continuously ongoing, and for accounting purposes they are classified as held for sale. See also note 39 on investments in owner interests.

Sale of loan portfolios
In the sale of loan portfolios to Eksportfinans, SpareBank 1 Boligkreditt and SpareBank 1 Næringskreditt, the Group considers whether the criteria for derecognition under IAS 39 are met. At the end of the accounting year all transferred portfolios were derecognised from the parent bank’s balance sheet. See also note 10 on derecognition of financial assets.

Classification of hybrid capital
SpareBank 1 SMN has issued two hybrid capital instruments where the terms satisfy the requirements of CRD IV for inclusion in common equity tier 1 capital. As from 2017 these instruments are classified as equity in the financial statements since they do not meet the definition of financial liabilities under IAS 32. The instruments are perpetual and SpareBank 1 SMN is entitled not to pay interest to the investors. The interest is not presented as an expense in the income statement, but as a reduction in equity.

Annual report and notes

© SpareBank 1 SMN