Parallel banking activities, known as shadow banking, amounted to 128 billion euros in Belgium at the end of 2016, according to a report by the National Bank of Belgium, BNB, and the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA). Shadow banking refers to credit activities outside the traditional banking framework. The BNB and FSMA noted that these activities concern mainly monetary and placement funds that are not considered equity funds. Most of these funds come under the supervision of the Belgian authorities.
The report was commissioned by Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt and the High-Level Expert Group on the Future of the Belgian Financial Sector. It is linked to the evolution towards a financial system that is more market-oriented, in which financial intermediation occurs outside the banking sector.
“This type of financing provides an alternative to credit granted by banks and helps to support the real economy,” the report stated. “On the other hand, it is liable to create systemic risks, in the same way as companies under prudential supervision.”
Thus far, however, the BNB and FSMA have not observed any significant systemic risks linked to portfolio management and parallel banking activities in Belgium, even if “attentive monitoring” of developments in these two types of activities and their links with other sectors of the economy is needed, they said.
The two institutions recommend, among other things, the collection of missing data on portfolio management and the parallel banking sector, and periodic monitoring of shadow banking in Belgium.