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Fair Value Accounting (FVA) in Barclays Bank Plc

Info: 5423 words (22 pages) Dissertation
Published: 12th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Accounting

Before starting Research Methods, it is vitally important to understand the real meaning of Research in general.

'Research is a planned and methodical approach of finding answers to the questions'(R Cottrell & J F McKenzie; 2010)

It is an organized set of actions and steps which we will follow to achieve our objectives. There are many factors in Research Method which are always done to get the most precise results. Research is a pre-planned method, not a spontaneous approach. It is focused and limited to a particular scope. A good research is focused on appropriate, valuable, imperative questions and their answers. If there are no questions, there is no point of doing research and similarly finding answers to those questions is the most important. Whether its an answer to a hypothesis or even a simple question. A good research is ineffective unless we find the answers to the questions.

A good Research is a major key to complete a successful project, report or Dissertation because if the research is not professional and well organized, then it is nearly impossible to complete a Project or Dissertation.


Research methods can be categorised into two types. They are:-

Deductive Research and Inductive Research. In research methods, conclusions are based on these two methods. Both are widely used in research projects.


Deduction follows an approach which is 'top-down' or 'from general to specific. Aristotle a Greek philosopher described deduction as' Drawing conclusions by applying rules or principles; logically moving from a general rule or principle to a specific solution"(www.hubpages.com/hub/Types-of-Research Dated:03-05-2010)

It is the procedure of getting a conclusion that is certain to pursue, if the data given is factual and the analysis used to achieve the conclusion is right. In deductive method, the grounds (facts) give an assurance of 100% accurate conclusion.


  1. There are 15 packs of cigarettes on the top-shelf of the cigarette case,
  2. There are 7 packs of cigarettes on the lower-shelf of the cigarette case.
  3. There are no cigarettes anywhere on the middle-shelf cigarette case

From the above, it can be concluded that there are 22 packs of cigarettes in the cigarette case.


Induction method is from precise to general. In induction, we scrutinize some events, deduct a pattern and draw conclusion.

This method involves moving from an exact condition to a common conclusion. This method is undefined and investigative. It does not give 100% assurance of reality but a chance of being accurate.


This coffee is hot. (Specific, based on a direct observation.)

All coffees are hot. (General, can be applied to any ice)


The key objectives of this research are:-

To Critically Analyze the Role of Fair Value Accounting (FVA) in Barclay's Bank Plc. Norbury Branch, London and what are its effects on Barclay's Bank Plc. before, during and after Credit Crunch?

To Investigate whether the systematic risk is associated with the financial crises of Barclay's Bank Plc. or not?

To Highlight the impact of market to market reporting in contributing financial difficulties for Barclay's Bank Plc.

To Find out the contagion of Barclay's Bank Plc with Recommendations & Conclusion.


An efficient banking system is an indicator of sustainable economy (Imola; 2006). Banks perform fundamental roles not only in financial system of a country but also globally due to their nature of business performance and corresponding assets policy. Banks play the role of financial intermediaries in an economy (Imola; 2006)



Financial Accounting Standards define Fair Value Accounting as:' The price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date (Whittgton; 2008)


In accounting, fair value is used as an estimate of the market value of an asset or liability for which a market price cannot be determined. The measurement of assets and liabilities takes place at three levels. At the first level, the fair value of an asset or liability is calculated at quoted prices if the market is active for that asset and liability. At second level, the cost of similar assets and liabilities are taken for evaluation and at last level, the market for these assets and liabilities are not available, the standard supports to use market to model approach for valuation of assets and liabilities (MacNamara; 2009).

Evaluation of assets and liabilities at Level three is considered to be more problematic. This increases the manipulation risk because of non availability of market prices. (Penman; 2009) argue that for most of the loans, the quoted prices are not available in the markets. Even if the prices for these loans are available, they do not reflect the private information of these loans for banks. Therefore, to determine the fair value of these loans, different valuation models are used (Penman; 2007). Financial Accounting Standards (FAS) allows financial institutions to report their assets at level three but the opponents of (FAS) argue that it has forced banks to value troubled securities at lower prices (MacNamara; 2009).

Wall Street Journal claims that the reporting of assets and liabilities on Fair Value Accounting (FVA) causes financial institutions and banks to write down their mortgage backed securities (Gold, 2008). However, most of accountants, regulators and investors defend this by arguing that it provides more accurate and transparent reflection of a company‘s position (MacNamara; 2009). Kurt N. Schacht managing director of CFA (Institute of Chartered Financial Accountants) argues that fair value measurement is only relevant information under the prevailing circumstances (Gold; 2008).


Many Banks around the world have started revising their estimates of credit losses. Several parties blame FVA for the sub prime crisis (G.Ryan; 2008). The controversy has been observed during the discussion paper on Statements of Financial Accounting Standards (SFAS 2006) that the interpretations made by Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) about fair value ignored the transaction costs and entity‘s specific assumptions (Whittington; 2008).

However, the advocators of FVA argue that FVA is not responsible for crisis. It is just a reporting and measurement system of assets and liabilities (Christian Laux; 2009). Wallace (2009) suggests that the fair value accounting is not the main cause of current financial crisis. He names it as a messenger of current crisis and advocates that FVA has helped us to recognize the problem earlier otherwise the situation would be much worse as compare to its current position (Wallace; 2009).

Moreover, the advocators argue that the accounting rules contradict with framework of institutions. They point out that sometime managers make deviations from market prices due to their own interests (Christian Laux; 2009). Singleton (2006) argues that historical cost accounting is out of date and there is a strong possibility that management manipulate it. In modern era, the current values based reporting (e.g. market based) are more relevant and reliable. Henceforth, the supporters suggest that it is difficult to say that FVA is responsible for the current crisis (Singeton; 2006). The supporters further assert that under FVA, assets and liabilities are recorded at the price, at which these assets and liabilities can be sold (Gold; 2008). Thus, FVA represents the current market condition and provides accurate financial information of an entity. (Stephen; 2006).

In support of FVA, Stephen Penman (2006) mentions the following points. Firstly, inventors are more interested in value not in cost. Secondly, in prevailing situations the historical prices are not relevant to provide up to date financial position of a business. Thirdly, the fair value is based on reality of assets and liabilities actual financial position. Further, it reflects the true economic substance. Finally, as markets are efficient, they are not influenced by a single firm or business. Therefore, the information based on market prices is more relevant (Stephen; 2006). Finnegan (2009) concludes that FVA is suitable to apply in both periods e.g. when market prices are available as well as when markets are inactive and market prices are not available (I.Victor; 2009).

However, the opponent asserts that FVA is irrelevant and misleading especially for those assets and liabilities which are held for long term (held to maturity).They further argue: firstly, as efficient market hypothesis theory does not always true in real life. It fails in some situations. Therefore, in the situation of inefficient market FVA provides wrong information to investors and creates liquidity problems. Secondly, FVA measurement model are not reliable and finally, FVA contributes pro cyclicality in the financial system (Mary E. Barth; 1995).

In spite of all criticism, The FASB & IASB believe that fair value measurement of financial assets is more relevant in producing useful financial position of firm as compare to historical cost based measurements. They argue that fair value shows the current cash equivalent of the business‘s financial instruments rather than the price of acquisition of financial instruments (Benston; 2008). Further, supporting FVA, the former chairman of SEC Mr. Breeden, suggests that all financial institutions like banks as well as publicly held companies should report their financial position on market based because market based information are most relevant to financial attributes (Mary E. Barth; 1995).

Allen and Carletti (2008) assert that banks may become insolvent with the effect of market to market prices. The valuation based on market prices creates instability in market prices that affect the value of banking assets and this leads to ruin banking portfolio and contagion (Mahan, 2009). However, the advocators of FVA assert that it has provided early warning of current crisis and asked banks to take corrective actions (Wallance; 2009). Mahan (2009) points out that the fair value is not a single reason of the current crisis the other factors, for example, inadequate risk management, poor lending requirements, the assessment of rating agencies and insufficient capital requirements are also contributors of these crisis.

Mahan (2009) claims that the banking regulation, especially the capital requirement is also one of major reason in failure of banks. However, the logic behind the capital requirement of regulators and central bank is the same as the secured loans issue by banks to creditors to protect market from financial distress and keep insurance of market discipline.

Recently, the London based International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) declared that they are going to change the market to market rule and will follows the United States Standard. Recently, the US companies are reporting their assets under level three categories (Morgan; 2009).


Barclay's explain the following reasons for rejection of FVA during financial crises.

Firstly, they argue the FVA is irrelevant for investors. It does not communicate the rationality (Christian Laux; 2009). Critics of FVA have accused it of pouring fuel on the fire rather than simply measuring the flame (Morley; 2008). Secondly, it is not suitable for banking industry and finally, they said fair value is inappropriate for those assets which are held for long term (i.e. held to maturity) and the assets which have no active market (i.e. for illiquid assets).

In the mid of 2008, when the crisis reached at its maximum point, the bank started blaming FVA and their main focus of criticism was the valuation of liquid assets. Barclay's argue that FVA has played an effective role in creating these crises.

On the other side of the coin, (Ball; 2000) & (Leuz; 2003) suggested that investors, and other interested groups e.g. Accountants and customers have opposite opinion. These interested groups are against the suspension of FVA standards. For example, during November 2008, the joint letter to SEC the Consumer Federation of America, Centre for Audit Quality, Council of Institutional Investors, Investment Management Association, and CFA Institute assert that investors are more confident on the standards (i.e. FVA) which are more transparent and report current and relevant information for valuation of financial instruments regardless of the direction of markets (Christian Laux; 2009).

Nicolas (2008) argues that the illiquidity criticism spots light at the market conditions for many financial instruments. These instruments were imbalanced from August 2007 and were not reporting the true prices in markets on the basis of demand and supply principle. Most of prices did not reflect the potential to generate the future cash flows associated with an assets or investment. Nicolas (2008) further argues that fair value compelled Barclay's Bank Plc. to record assets and liabilities on the value which is unjustified by economic conditions. Resultantly, Barclays Bank Plc. was forced to raise new capital under depressed valuation conditions to meet the legal solvency requirements which resulted in reduction in the equity value of existing shareholders.

The pro-cyclicality criticism of fair value is based on the idea that when there is boost in market prices it apparently strengths the balance sheet of Barclays Bank. However, in the time of reduction in market prices, it damages the economic position of the bank more severely (Amola; 2006). Futher, Nicolas ( 2008) argues that as the studies support that markets do not work efficiently during the time of crisis when every participant is in the condition of uncertainty and market information are disordered. Therefore, the accounting standards which rely on market‘s information, damages the decision of it‘s users. Additionally, he argues that criticism of pro-cyclicality of FVA is not only when markets are inactive for securities but also in the normal conditions of economy (Nicolas; 2008).

Regardless of criticism of FVA, Wallace (2009) suggests that elimination of fair value standards is not solution to the problem. The government should focus on stabilizing the financial markets, rebuilding investors confidence by promoting liquidity conditions in markets and improving regulations (Wallace; 2009).

Barclays Bank can overcome the shortcomings of historical cost accounting. Reporting at FVA standards, the bank can record their financial instruments including loans at fair value (market based price). Buckland (2005) also argues that for the purpose of monitoring and supervision, the supporters of FVA consider it more reliable source of information.


During existing literature review, I observed that mostly, the underlying subject has been discussed working papers, reports, conferences and general argumentations.

The following literatures give the guidelines to understand the issues related to financial crisis, systemic risk and FVA standards. I went through the following literature to understand my topic of research.

Magnan (2009) provides general overview of FVA on financial statements. He briefly explains the origins of FVA, its applications and role in the financial crisis. He believes that FVA has contributed in acceleration of financial crisis especially in banks and financial institutions (Magnon; 2009).

Magnan (2009) explains, how fair value has contributed and created financial crisis? He describes that at the start of 2007, some of the financial institution‘s (including Barclay's Plc.) assets and liabilities drop in value and this drop in value forced these institutions to report assets and liabilities lower at their balance sheets. This reporting at lower value negatively affected their capital adequacy ratios (Magnan; 2009)

Morley (2008) discusses the role of accounting standard setters and their comments about the FVA. Further, spotting light at the problems of FVA they argue that the sharp fall in market values of many financial instruments adversely affect the market price of these instruments. Additionally, they point out the challenges IASB is facing after the recent financial crisis. They state that the political threat to IASB‘s independence and credibility is continuously growing. Moreover, the headlines such as, Bank‘s accounting gets murkier (Wall Street Journal, November, 11, 2008). The third quarter reports of banks provide evidence that bank‘s accounting system get murkier e.g. The Royal Bank of Scotland is said to have avoided booking ₤1.4 billion of losses as a result of the rule change, and Deutsche Bank, Lloyds TSB and HSBC collectively are said to have avoided booking losses of €1.5 billion (Morley; 2008).


The banking regulations were introduced in the system to avoid systemic risk in the sector (Allen; 1995). The regulators of prudential law are fully aware of the danger that systemic risk can produce in the banking sector. Systemic risk is the risk that can breakdown an entire system (Acharya; 2002). Kaufman (2003) founded that there is high correlation between systemic risk and failure of banking system in a country, a number of countries or throughout the world. Sohnke. M (2005) defines systemic risk as ' The risk of a failure of the global banking system resulting from a failure of the global inter-bank payment system' (Sohnke M; 2005).


In the case of the banking industry, all banks are connecting to each other due to inter-banking transactions (Sohnke M; 2005). They have common deposits, loans, payment systems and other different indirect services to other financial institutions. Inter-banking system works within a country as well as across countries. Therefore, the adverse shock that effects on a bank in a system damages the entire system. Thus, the insolvency of one bank transforms the insolvencies of other banks in the system. The theory and evidence advocate that the danger of contagious systemic risk in the banking industry is faster and stronger as compare to any other industry (Kaufman & Scott, 2003).

Additionally, Kaufman (2003) suggests that the initial failure of a bank starts knock on reaction in the system. However, at the start of this shock, the other banks do not expect its transmission to them. Kaufman (2003) explains that if a bank has smaller capital to assets ratio, this means that the bank is highly leveraged. Therefore, this set of banks transfer their insolvency to other banks in a system (Khan; 2009). Moreover, Kaufman (2003) suggests that in banks, the downward trend in the credit market affects the quality of private and public information. This information also increases the uncertainty in the credit market and badly affects these market conditions. In such situations of uncertainty no participant wants to take risks. Therefore, investors quickly transfer their funds to a safer place (Kaufman & Scott; 2003).

Cifuentes, Ferrucci, and Shin (2005) argue that when assets and liabilities are reported on market to market basis and there are also external solvency requirements (e.g. prudential regulation), these situations lead to increase of risk in the financial system. They further argue that when the prices of assets are falling, these assets disrupt the solvency ratio of firms. Prudential regulations in banking system demand banks to maintain capital reserves for their solvency in estimation of risk associated with institutions (Khan; 2009). Plantin (2008) has observed that banks sell their assets when prices of assets were falling and purchased assets when prices were rising. Such acts of banks increased the volatility in market prices which increased the probability of rise in the systemic risk in banking sector.


Plannutin (2008) suggest that when markets are inactive, FVA becomes more inefficient as compare to historical based accounting (Plannutin G; 2008). As market to market accounting increases the probability of pro-cyclical trades that creates the illiquidity situation in markets. The logic behind is that when the market is illiquid for particular assets as compare to other assets which have active market, the sale of assets adversely affects the price of assets and firm for whom there is no seller or buyer ( Khan; 2008). Therefore, it can be argued that under the FVA reporting (which is based on market to market), prices of assets and liabilities further decline prices of assets and liabilities for which no markets exist.

Further, in such situations of uncertainty, the management of these firms sell these assets at lower prices. In reaction to this, pro-cyclical trades starts which increase the overall risk especially in the banking sector. Therefore, we can understand that during the recent financial crisis, how the FVA is associated with the systemic risk of banking system? As the market for banking assets became illiquid during the financial crisis and sale of assets of other firms increased pressure on bank‘s management to sell their asset at lower prices (Pollock A 2008).


Why I have chosen the role fair value accounting in Barclay's Bank Plc.?

Being a student of MBA Banking and finance, this topic will give me a unique opportunity to cover both fields of my MBA in one research i.e Banking as well as Finance. Fair value accounting will help me to learn about the finance and financial crises while FVA's role in Barclay's Bank Plc. will give me a chance to understand more about UK Banking system. This topic will also provide me empirical evidence about the role of fair value accounting in Barclay's Bank Plc. I have a strong desire to built my career in Banking or Finance sector in future as those two fields are of my interest so definitely, this topic will be help me to achieve my future goals. It is also pertinent to mention here that three of my close friend's working in Barclay's Bank Plc. (two of them working in the same branch i.e.Norbury, london) which will give me an easy access to the data to complete my research methods/dissertation without any hurdles.


To make an assumption or prediction about any research is not an easy thing to do but on the basis of literature review, I can predict that the role of Fair Value Accounting (FVA) in Barclay's Bank Plc. has a positive effect on UK Banking industry as (Nicolas; 2008) argues that Fair Value Accounting compelled Banks to record assets and liabilities on the value which is unjustified by economic conditions and it has played an important role in Barclay's Bank Plc. success during credit crunch. I can also predict that the systematic risk is not associated with the financial crisis of Barclay's Bank Plc. and by highlighting the impact of market to market reporting in financial difficulties for Barclay's Bank Plc, It is assumed that its contribution for the banking industry was vital during financial crisis.


Research methodology consists of two types of research. They are:-

Primary Research.

Secondary Research.


Primary Research is research which is used to gather statistics for a precise task. Types of primary data collection methods include:-

Personal Observation: The observation of the respondent by a skilled observer or by electronic tools e.g camera, video. The aim is to observe customer response and activities to a product or consumer service.

Personal Interviews: Face to face interview between an interviewer and the respondent.


In detail answers achievable.

Qualitative statistics can be obtained from small sample.

Observation improves precision.

Understanding leads to less refusals.


Costs qualified Interviewer expensive.

Interviewer bias.

Difficult to get an appointment if the interviewer is a busy person.

Invasion of privacy.



To collect the primary data for my qualitative analysis, I'll develop questionnaires to identify answers of the research questions in the dissertation. I'll follow (B Healey; 2005) approach who developed close ended questionnaires with check boxes to answer these questions. Gannon (2001) asserts that amongst all the other research techniques, the questionnaires have been given high priority due to negligible cost and scope for easy evaluation they offer. Close ended questionnaires are one of the most common used tools for getting opinions ( L H Wang; 2006).

Further, it is an adequate way to get the opinion of experts from the relevant field of research that has good representation of practical experiences and expert knowledge. Underneath this logic, most of companies, Banks and government agencies use this method to collect information.


Gannon (2001) critics that the information gathered as the results of questionnaires are limited because mostly questions ask in questionnaire allow only positive or negative response. Additionally, it is pragmatic that sometime the respondents refuse to answer certain questions or giving their answers in hazel and even sometime do not read the questions (Sproull; 2001). Chambers and Pretty claim that in spite of problem with answering the questionnaires, it was considered that it is time consuming, expensive and not suitable for reaching at conclusion ( Marslan; 2001) .


Secondary research is the most general research method engaged in the every field today. It involves dealing out facts & figures that has already been collected by a different party. With this research, researchers will check with previous studies and findings such as reports, press articles and earlier market research projects in order to come to a conclusion. This has comparatively low cost in comparison to primary research.


There are different types of resources offered for secondary research. The most well-known are:

Published statistics: survey, housing and social security statistics

Published texts: abstract work, secondary analysis by experts and reports

Media: documentaries as a source of information

Personal documents: diaries


  • Economical and reachable especially at University/College Library.
  • Often the only source, for example historical documents & Books.
  • Only way to look at major trends.


  • Lack of stability of perception.
  • Biases and inaccuracy can not be checked
  • Available data often increase more questions than they answer.
  • The worry over whether any statistics can be completely detached from the perspective of its gathering or not.



Prior to 2004, UK firms and Barclay's Bank Plc. were preparing their financial statements according to UK GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). 2005 was the first year when International Accounting Standard Board (IASB) and UK Accounting Standard Board asked UK firms & Banks including Barclay's Bank Plc. to prepare and report their financial statements at IFRS. (Ormrod; 2007). Additionally, Gannon and Ashwal claim that more than hundred countries worldwide use International Accounting Standards on either a compulsory or on a permitted basis and more countries are expected to follow in the near future.(Ormrod; 2007).

I'll consider year 2005 when Barclay's Bank Plc. adopted IFRS as start of FVA regime. Henceforth, year 2005 to date, I'll take as my sample period for quantitative testing. I'll use secondary data sources to gather information for quantitative analysis eg Barclays website, Journals, Books. I'll collect the details of assets and liabilities which are reported at fair value of different banks from the web sites of these banks and then I'll compare them with Barclay's Bank Plc. This study will provide me evidence that the difference between reporting assets and liabilities at fair value and book value on investment securities explains the share prices of insurance companies and banks as (Penman; 2007) described.


Mirosevich (2008) argues that most of quantitative methods are based on classical tests which produce correct results only when underlying assumptions are fulfilled. These tests produce incorrect P-values, effect sizes and confidence intervals when they violate the key assumptions to calculate P- values. Therefore, the evaluations of these results mislead the research objectivity (Mirosevich; 2008). The researchers observed that the assumptions made under quantitative methods to test hypotheses are mostly not correct in real life. Many factors are to be considered constant or assumed not affecting the dependent variables. Therefore, the results obtain from such tests are sometimes misleading the research goals (Mirosevich; 2008).


The debate of costs and benefits of fair value will go on and the analyses conducted in this study are considered to be a new addition to literature which addresses important and complex issues of FVA in current debate of accounting usefulness.

These issues require further investigative studies. The financial crisis has made clear that the financial statements organizers need additional guidance to calculate fair values in illiquid markets. Users of these financial reports need better disclosures of financial information especially at the critical level 3 inputs. The users of financial information are interested to analyse the sensitivity of fair value measurements and its influence on the Barclay's Bank Plc. Accounting standard-setters need to consider the demands of interested parties and issue guidance and disclosures accordingly. Preparers need to provide these disclosures in an informative fashion, and users must analyze them carefully and dispassionately. Additionally, accounting researchers and teachers can contribute to all of these processes. Indeed, for all of us who care about accounting and its role in the economy, there is much work need to be done (G.Ryan; 2008).

Further, I believe that more time and research is required to determine reality that whether FVA has played its role in failure of Barclay's Bank Plc. or not? To understand the role of FVA seems vital for future developments and implementations of accounting standards in Barclay's Bank Plc. Additionally, future studies of FVA will give new shape and directions to financial reporting framework. I hope that over next few years, most likely the conduct of lot of empirical studies will give us a distinct answer to the question about the role of FVA in Barclay's Bank Plc. during financial crisis.

The debate of FVA mainly revolves around the issues cost and benefit of reporting assets and liabilities at fair value and its role during financial crisis. The researchers such as Penman (2007) Simatupang

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