The future of stress testing

An integrated framework aligned to risk appetite


Stress testing processes and results can help financial institutions refine risk strategies.

Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) frameworks have, in less than a decade, become an essential tool for financial institutions. And now this evolution is coming full circle, as firms work to integrate CCAR analyses into enterprise risk appetite, capital and performance management strategies. Initially, stress testing performance metrics were not aligned with corporate strategy in these areas—but that is changing, as firms strive to capture efficiency gains and boost return on investment.

Aligned decision-making processes, a common set of key performance indicators (KPIs) and integrated monitoring, analytics and reporting are all essential in helping the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Risk Officer shape an institution’s risk profile and financial performance to meet regulators’ expectations. Stress testing processes and results can help cultivate and refine these resources, and also support enterprise-wide management of balance sheet and capital actions.


When an integrated approach is working, a financial institution’s capital needs are linked to its strategic plan and to its risk appetite targets.

In an integrated state, there is no need for institutions to view their risk and capital management programs as separate efforts. Instead, they can explore ways to strategically integrate these programs. While the processes for CCAR and economic capital management follow different paths, they can be bridged.

The framework requirements for CCAR focus on providing and consolidating end-to-end data, methodology and forecasting components from all lines of business (LOBs) and relevant functions across the enterprise. Capital forecasts for portfolios, LOBs and for the enterprise are based on the institution’s business and risk strategy, tested under stressed conditions.

Economic capital processes, by contrast, exclude such stressed forecasts, with planning typically housed within a centralized operating model. Results do not provide insights into the consequences of specific stress scenarios or events.

CCAR stress tests and scenario analysis at the LOB and enterprise level can complement economic capital results—for a more holistic view of capital and risk appetite impact.



Components of an integrated framework include continuous alignment and rebalancing of balance sheet, risk and capital decisions in these four areas:
  • Growth strategies and corporate RA that impact the availability and deployment of capital

  • Business plans linked to capital strategies including capital allocation, risk-adjusted performance and incentives

  • Dynamic monitoring and recalibration of RA targets and thresholds

  • Identification and assessment of all material risks

  • Risk management policies and procedures linked to capital adequacy levels

  • Stress scenarios that impact liquidity, capital access and funding requirements

  • Dynamic management of balance sheet composition for risk-weighted assets improvement and resilience to external shocks

  • Determining “strategic buyer” capital levels accounting for cyclicality

  • Enhanced asset-liability management (ALM) capabilities linked to stress scenarios

  • Improvement in the sources vs. uses of funds and capital targets formulation

  • Refinement of capital distribution plans (dividends, repurchases)

  • Capital contingency plans, KRIs and triggers


The intense focus on CCAR framework requirements in the post-crisis era has overshadowed the importance of sound economic capital management practices and past achievements.

Now it’s time for these areas to converge. To accomplish this, the offices of the CEO, the CFO and the CRO should collaborate in instituting an integrated framework, accounting for the strengths and limitations of previously separate and stand-alone capital planning approaches. When they are combined, CCAR and economic capital can realize significant improvements in risk and capital management.



About the authors

 About the authors

Luther Klein

Luther Klein

Managing Director 
Finance & Risk Analytics Lead
North America


Connect with Luther Klein's Profile on LinkedIn. This opens a new window.
Mail to Luther Klein. This opens a new window.
Michael Jacobs Jr., Ph.D., CFA

Michael Jacobs Jr., Ph.D., CFA

Principal Director 
Finance & Risk Analytics
North America


Connect with Michael Jacobs Jr., Ph.D., CFA's Profile on LinkedIn. This opens a new window.
Mail to Michael Jacobs Jr., Ph.D., CFA. This opens a new window.
Akber Merchant

Akber Merchant

Senior Manager 
Finance & Risk
North America


Connect with Akber Merchant's Profile on LinkedIn. This opens a new window.
Mail to Akber Merchant. This opens a new window.

On our blog

 On our blog

Stay in touch via our Blog. This opens a new window.


On LinkedIn

 On LinkedIn

Connect with us on LinkedIn. This opens a new window.