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EBA’s draft regulations on outsourcing need tighter focus
September 2018

The European Banking Authority’s (EBA) draft Guidelines on outsourcing (EBA/CP/2018/11) should give more emphasis on the role of the first and second lines of defence in the oversight of outsourced activities, ECIIA has said in its written response to the consultation.

More specifically speaking, the response continued, management should be in charge of the operational side of the outsourcing arrangements, while risk management and other compliance functions should monitor whether the process is performed properly.

“The internal audit function plays the role of being a third line of defence in such arrangements,” ECIIA Banking Committee Chair Henrik Stein said. “Internal audit must focus on the assurance of the outsourcing framework in terms of the risks that may be being taken.”

“While we believe that EBA’s revision of its guidelines are timely and important, we strongly urge it to reflect best practice by specifically including reference to the three lines of defence governance structure in its new provisions.”

In addition, ECIIA urged EBA to lighten the principles for outsourcing arrangements between different entities within a group of companies because of the lower risk exposure this creates compared to external outsourcing. Similarly, “a distinction should be made for outsourcing services within the European area for those highly-regulated services – such as IT and financial modelling – and other services,” the response to the consultation said.

The ECIIA also said that the role of a risk-based approach to internal audit should be more clearly emphasised. While the document does acknowledge the that risk-based assessment should form part of the audit planning process, it also tries to lay down some requirements in the plan in respect of outsourcing arrangements.

“The inclusion of the outsourced arrangements – or otherwise – in the audit plan should be solely dependent on the results of the risk-based assessments carried by the audit function,” Stein said. “It’s hard to see how that would be helped by prescribing in advance what should be covered.”

EBA’s draft guidelines define which arrangements with third parties are considered as outsourcing and provide criteria for the identification of critical or important functions, which have a stronger impact on the financial institution’s risk profile or on its internal control framework. It says that where such critical or important functions are outsourced, stricter and stronger requirements should apply compared to other outsourcing arrangements.

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