The death knell for the global benchmark interest rate LIBOR has rung, and the impact of its demise will be widely felt. The time to prepare for the switch to alternative risk-free rates has arrived; the back book will need to be transitioned, and products based on the new rates will need to be launched. What are the three main risks during this period, and what is the major opportunity?
The London Inter-bank Offered Rate, LIBOR, has for 50 years served as one of the most widely used benchmark interest-rate indexes. But its reputation has been tarnished by concerns that it has been manipulated by banks, and the United Kingdom’s FCA has pulled the plug on LIBOR submissions after 2021. Its successors—risk-free rates—are lining up to take over, but the transition is definitely not guaranteed to be smooth.
Interbank offered rates, the interest rates at which banks lend and borrow in the interbank market, are being replaced by risk-free rates, partly due to past rate-rigging scandals. In Europe, what is in itself a tricky conversion has been made even more complicated by the implementation of the wider EU Benchmark Regulation. Market participants must not delay in preparing to meet the transitional challenges as the deadline draws nearer.