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Article

ARRC issues updated guidance on the scope of Term SOFR

Date:
August 27, 2021
  • jimmy oboyle headshot

    Authors

    Jimmy O’Boyle

    Director

    Financial Institutions | Kennett Square, PA

  • kim johnston headshot

    Authors

    Kim Johnston

    Director
    Regulatory Advisory

    Financial Institutions | Denver, CO

The Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC) issued updated guidance regarding the scope of use for Term Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) derivatives. This is a positive development for financial institutions that intend to use Term SOFR as an alternative rate as they transition away from LIBOR.

There are various non-LIBOR rate alternatives to consider, and Chatham does not recommend a particular alternative. Each financial institution should evaluate and determine which non-LIBOR alternative is best for their institution.

On July 29, the ARRC officially recommended Term SOFR and released best practices related to its use. At that time, the ARRC stated that, pursuant to the Financial Stability Board mandate to increase robustness in the risk-free rate market, the use of Term SOFR derivatives should be limited to end-users hedging cash products. This limited endorsement raised concerns for community and regional financial institutions that could be at a competitive disadvantage if customers sought Term SOFR financing with a Term SOFR swap to fix the debt service, but the institution could not undertake an equal and offsetting hedge with a dealer.

Chatham immediately collaborated with individuals from the ARRC, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the Federal Reserve Board, and various market participants to ensure that attention was given to this lack of clarity in the endorsement and to advocate on behalf of our financial institution clients. We are pleased by this announcement and hopeful that it clears an obstacle for those institutions planning to implement Term SOFR.

The revised scope of use reiterates that end users may wish to hedge cash products that reference Term SOFR with Term SOFR derivatives and that the ARRC supports such use. Relative to this recommendation, an end user is described as any party to the underlying cash product, such as a borrower, lender, or guarantor. These parties may then enter into Term SOFR swaps, caps, swaptions, or other derivatives to hedge cash product exposure or a portfolio of exposures and may also adjust or unwind these exposures, including by way of novation. Importantly, a financial institution that is not a CFTC-registered Swap Dealer or interdealer market maker in interest rate derivatives may also offset such exposure with an upstream dealer.

The ARRC re-emphasized that it does not endorse the use of Term SOFR derivatives for most of the market, including CFTC-registered Swap Dealers, and encourages the use of derivatives based on SOFR overnight and SOFR averages where possible, even for end users. The ARRC is not a supervisory body and it is important that you remain in communication with your regulators to determine the permissible rates for your financial institution.

The ARRC previously selected the CME to be the administrator of Term SOFR, and use of Term SOFR in this manner shall also be in accordance with the CME’s licensing terms. You can find information regarding these terms here which are subject to change.

Today, it is not possible to execute a Term SOFR derivative in the marketplace. The original endorsement and this updated guidance, combined with the SOFR First Initiative, should allow for this market to develop. We cannot address, however, how quickly Term SOFR swaps will be provided by swap dealers at this time.

We will continue to advocate for our clients and assist them in the evaluation process of these alternative rates.


Contact us

Please contact us to discuss this or any other LIBOR discontinuation topic in more detail.

About the authors

  • Jimmy O’Boyle

    Director

    Financial Institutions | Kennett Square, PA

    Jimmy O’Boyle uses his over 15 years of experience in the derivatives industry to support the financial institutions team by developing managerial and administrative procedures and providing reporting structures and operational controls to the group.
  • Kim Johnston

    Director
    Regulatory Advisory

    Financial Institutions | Denver, CO

    Kim is a Director of Regulatory Advisory for Chatham’s Financial Institutions team where she advises banks and credit unions on the impacts of global derivatives regulation.

Disclaimers

Chatham Hedging Advisors, LLC (CHA) is a subsidiary of Chatham Financial Corp. and provides hedge advisory, accounting and execution services related to swap transactions in the United States. CHA is registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as a commodity trading advisor and is a member of the National Futures Association (NFA); however, neither the CFTC nor the NFA have passed upon the merits of participating in any advisory services offered by CHA. For further information, please visit chathamfinancial.com/legal-notices.

Transactions in over-the-counter derivatives (or “swaps”) have significant risks, including, but not limited to, substantial risk of loss. You should consult your own business, legal, tax and accounting advisers with respect to proposed swap transaction and you should refrain from entering into any swap transaction unless you have fully understood the terms and risks of the transaction, including the extent of your potential risk of loss. This material has been prepared by a sales or trading employee or agent of Chatham Hedging Advisors and could be deemed a solicitation for entering into a derivatives transaction. This material is not a research report prepared by Chatham Hedging Advisors. If you are not an experienced user of the derivatives markets, capable of making independent trading decisions, then you should not rely solely on this communication in making trading decisions. All rights reserved.

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