Polish Bank Association’s Banking Forum 2024

The Banking Forum is one of the most important annual events in the industry, and cannot be missed by representatives of top management and executives of Polish and international financial institutions. This is where current issues and challenges, opportunities and prospects for banks, insurers, investment companies and FinTechs are discussed. This is where new ideas, initiatives and concepts are born. It is here that decisions are made that affect the shape and landscape of the Polish financial sector. That is why, for many years now, we have been a partner and an active, committed facilitator of the debates and discussions that take place here. This year, they were particularly heated.

What does the future hold for bank housing loans

Will it still make sense to offer these types of loans in the next 5 or 10 years, given the legal and economic risks and how dramatically the terms can change during the life of the agreement? What does the future hold for WIBOR-based mortgages and how can we ensure that all mortgage agreements remain unchallenged in the long term? These were the questions pondered by participants in a panel discussion on the future of housing finance, which, in addition to Andrzej Pałys, included Bożena Graczyk (Vice-President of the Management Board of ING Bank Śląski), Agata Chrzanowska (President of the Management Board of Millenium Bank Hipoteczny), Rafał Litwińczuk (Vice-President of the Management Board of Alior Bank) and Paweł Preuss (Partner at EY Polska). The panel was chaired by Agnieszka Wachnicka (Vice-President of the Management Board of the Polish Bank Association).

Andrzej Pałys spoke about the future of the WIBOR benchmark, emphasising its key role in real estate lending and responding in detail to allegations of possible manipulation.

The co-head of our Disputes of Financial Institutions Practice made it clear that there was no evidence that WIBOR was determined in a way that was incompliant with the EU’s Benchmark Regulation (BMR). He also pointed out that both the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection and Polish case law confirmed that the process complied with the law, and that this provided a solid basis for rejecting the allegations of manipulation. He also pointed out that the allegation of unclear rules for determining the benchmark was unfounded, as the underlying methodology is transparent and based on EU regulations, which is monitored by the independent GPW Benchmark administrator registered with the European Securities and Markets Authority.

Andrzej Pałys also emphasised that the system of cascading WIBOR ends with binding quotes, which prevents manipulation, and that the Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) has confirmed that the methodology for the provision of WIBOR complies with the BMR, which further strengthens its position as a reliable market indicator.

In the ensuing discussion, Andrzej highlighted the importance of the stability of loan agreements, which are vital to the health of the entire banking sector. In his view, the indisputability of agreements is crucial, particularly in the context of the challenges that have arisen following the Swiss franc mortgage crisis. He also spoke of the need to develop mechanisms to maintain reliability of transactions, such as the recording of information sessions with customers, the use of comprehension tests and visualisation. These could help in communicating complex financial information.

Andrzej Pałys also identified potential solutions that could strengthen the legal and financial stability of the mortgage market. These included the introduction of a standard loan agreement template, which would be the result of cooperation between key market institutions and regulators. This would aim to minimise legal risks and increase transparency for borrowers.

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Andrzej Pałys

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