Wednesday 23 May 2018 by FIIG Securities window Education (advanced)

BBSW changes complete

This week the ASX began calculating the Bank Bill Swap Rate (BBSW) using real transactions at traded prices. This is an important benchmark used in pricing and revaluing a wide range of financial instruments including mortgages, corporate bonds and derivatives

Just a few weeks ago CBA was fined $5m for rigging BBSW, it rounded out the top four banks, with all now charged with interest rate rigging. Changes to BBSW have been progressing over the last few years to strengthen the calculation to “ensure BBSW remains a trusted, reliable and robust benchmark”. 

As of 1 January 2017, AFMA handed over responsibility for calculating BBSW to the Australian Stock Exchange. The process has been evolving and last Monday was confirmed in a new paper ASX BBSW Trade and Trade Reporting Guidelines.

In an ASIC media release dated Monday 21 May, they commented:

The bank bill swap rate (BBSW) rate is a major interest rate benchmark for the Australian dollar and is widely referenced in many financial contracts. Previously, BBSW was calculated from the best executable bids and offers for Prime Bank securities. A major concern over recent years has been the low trading volumes during the rate-set window, the period over which the BBSW is measured.

The new BBSW methodology calculates the benchmark directly from market transactions during a longer rate-set window and involves a larger number of participants. This means that the benchmark is anchored to real transactions at traded prices. ASX, the administrator of BBSW, has consulted market participants on this new methodology. In addition, the ASX has recently conducted a successful parallel run of the new methodology against the existing method.

RBA Deputy Governor Guy Debelle said, ‘The new methodology strengthens BBSW by anchoring the benchmark to a greater number of transactions. This should help to ensure that BBSW remains robust.’

Key points to note

  • Prime Banks are required to show two way markets throughout the Rate Set Window on recognised

    Approved Trading Venues (ATVs) from 8:40:00am till 10.00:00am in accordance with the ASX Prime Bank Conventions

  • Internal Trades of Market Participants must not be reported for the purpose of BBSW calculation
  • For the purpose of BBSW calculation eligibility, the minimum parcel size is $10m
  • The Administrator will, in respect of Eligible Trades reported to the Administrator during the Trade Reporting Window on a day, calculate and publish the BBSW for that day by 10:30:00am on that day
  • When determining an outright rate (including the rate of a bid or offer entered on an ATV) a Market Participant should have regard to its genuine business purposes. This may involve taking into account factors such as: -
    • its genuine business purposes to buy or sell Bank Paper
    • underlying liquidity
    • investment demand to buy or sell Bank Paper
    • ovolume of Bank Paper to be traded
    • size of flow or enquiry
    • consistent pricing relativities to other related financial instruments
    • market environment 
  • Market Participants should ensure that they generate, or have access to, a timely and accurate record of transactions undertaken (and of executable quotes posted by them on ATVs) to ensure effective monitoring and to meet internal audit requirements
  • Market Participants that are unable to achieve segregation of duties should ensure that they maintain a record of decision making by an employee in line with their internal policies
  • A record should be kept of the rationale for any transaction at a price which is materially different from the current market price

For more information, see ASX and ASIC websites.