The United States Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) post-mortem assessment of Signature Bank (SBNY) revealed poor management and inadequate risk management practices as the root cause for its collapse.
Federal regulators shut down Signature Bank on March 12 to protect the U.S. economy and strengthen public confidence in the banking system. The FDIC was appointed to handle the insurance process.
On April 29, the FDIC’s report highlighted that the collapse of major U.S. banks, like Silvergate Bank and Silicon Valley Bank, caused illiquidity due to deposit runs. The regulator further stated:
“However, the root cause of SBNY’s failure was poor management. SBNY management did not prioritize good corporate governance practices, did not always heed FDIC examiner concerns, and was not always responsive or timely in addressing FDIC supervisory recommendations (SRs).”
The FDIC blamed Signature’s board of directors and management for pursuing “unrestrained growth” using uninsured deposits without implementing liquidity risk management strategies. The final nail in the coffin for Signature came when it could not manage liquidity, which was required to fulfill large withdrawal requests.
The report also revealed that Signature often denied addressing the FDIC’s concerns or implementing the regulator’s supervisory recommendations. Since 2017, the FDIC has sent numerous supervisory letters to SBNY citing regulatory, audit or risk management criticisms, as shown below.
Due to noncompliance with the recommendations, the FDIC downgraded SBNY’s liquidity component rating to “3” starting in 2019, further highlighting the need to improve its fund management practices.
Two government bodies were reportedly investigating Signature Bank for money laundering before its collapse. A report from March 15 highlighted that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating the bank for potential money laundering.
In addition, a parallel probe by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was reportedly underway. However, it remains unclear how the investigations aided the bank’s closure.