Structured finance is a sector of finance — specifically financial law — that manages leverage and risk. Strategies may involve legal and corporate restructuring, off balance sheet accounting, or the use of financial instruments.

Securitization provides $15.6 trillion in financing and funded more than 50% of U.S. household debt last year. Through securitization and structured finance, more families, individuals, and businesses have access to essential credit, seamlessly and at a lower price.[1]

With more than 370 member institutions, the Structured Finance Association (SFA) is the leading trade association for the structured finance industry. SFA’s purpose is to help its members and public policymakers grow credit availability and the real economy in a responsible manner. [2]

ISDA conducted market surveys of its Primary Membership to provide a summary of the notional amount outstanding of interest rate, credit, and equity derivatives, until 2010. The ISDA Margin Survey is also conducted annually to examine the state of collateral use and management among derivatives dealers and end-users. End-User Surveys are also conducted to collect information on usage of privately negotiated derivatives.



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Structured finance utilizes securitization to pool assets, creating novel financial instruments to enable better use of available capital or serve as a cheaper source of funding, especially for lower-rated originators

Other uses include alternative funding (ture), reducing credit concentration and for risk transfer[3][better source needed] and risk management interest rates and liquidity.


Tranching refers to the creation of different classes of securities (typically with different credit ratings) from the same pool of assets. It is an important concept, because it is the system used to create different investment classes for the securities. Tranching allows the cash flow from the underlying asset to be diverted to various investor groups. The Bank for International Settlements Committee on the Global Financial System explains tranching as follows: "A key goal of the tranching process is to create at least one class of securities whose rating is higher than the average rating of the underlying collateral pool or to create rated securities from a pool of unrated assets. This is accomplished through the use of credit support (enhancement), such as prioritization of payments to the different tranches."[4]

Credit enhancement

Credit enhancement is key in creating a security that has a higher rating than the underlying asset pool. Credit enhancement can be created, for example, by issuing subordinate bonds. The subordinate bonds are allocated any losses from the collateral before losses are allocated to the senior bonds, thus giving senior bonds a credit enhancement. As a result, it is possible for defaults to occur in repayment of the underlying assets without affecting payments to holders of the senior bonds. Also, many deals, typically those involving riskier collateral, such as subprime and Alt-A mortgages, use over-collateralization as well as subordination. In over-collateralization, the balance of the underlying assets (e.g., loans) is greater than the balance of the bonds, thus creating excess interest in the deal which acts as a "cushion" against reduction in value of the underlying assets. Excess interest can be used to offset collateral losses before losses are allocated to bondholders, thus providing another credit enhancement. A further credit enhancement involves the use of derivatives such as swap transactions, which effectively provide insurance, for a set fee, against a decrease in value.[citation needed]

Monoline insurers play a critical role in modern-day Credit Enhancements; they are more effective in (a) off-balance-sheet models creating synthetic collateral, (b) sovereign ratings' enhancement with built-in asset derivatives and (c) cross border loans with receivables and counterparties in the domain and jurisdiction of the monoline insurer. The decision whether to use a monoline insurer or not often depends upon the cost of such cover vis-a-vis the improvement in pricing for the loan or bond issue by virtue of such credit enhancement.[citation needed]

Ratings play an important role in structured finance for instruments that are meant to be sold to investors. Many mutual funds, governments, and private investors only buy instruments that have been rated by a known credit rating agency, like Moody's, Fitch or S&P Global Ratings.[citation needed] New rules in the U.S. and Europe have tightened the requirements for ratings agencies.[5]


Further information: Structured product

There are several main types of structured finance instruments.[according to whom?]

See also


  1. ^ "About Securitization". Structured Finance Association. Retrieved 2022-01-04.
  2. ^ "About Us". Structured Finance Association. Retrieved 2022-01-04.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The role of ratings in structured finance: issues and implications" (PDF). Bank for International Settlements. January 2005. Retrieved November 5, 2008.
  5. ^ "Rating Agencies - European Commission". Archived from the original on 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
  6. ^ Lemke, Lins and Picard, Mortgage-Backed Securities, §§4:14 - 4:20 (Thomson West, 2014 ed.).
  7. ^ Lemke, Lins and Picard, Mortgage-Backed Securities, §5:16 (Thomson West, 2014 ed.).
  8. ^ Lemke, Lins and Picard, Mortgage-Backed Securities, §5:17 (Thomson West, 2014 ed.).