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Reducing the regulatory gaps and challenges in the Ghanaian financial system through the adoption of the twin peak model



To date, Ghana’s financial regulatory approach has been closer to the traditional approach in China and Mexico where the regulatory authorities have been established alongside institutional or sector- based lines and separate regulatory authorities established to regulate and supervise the banking sector; insurance sector; securities sector and pension sector.

The current regulatory structure can be described as a sectoral regulation which maintains separate regulatory agencies across segregated institutional lines of financial services such as banking, securities, insurance and pension. The existing regulatory arrangements for financial services involve four regulators exercising jurisdiction over different sectors of the financial industry. It is fragmented with each regulatory agency being responsible for a particular segment.

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning is the apex body regulatory structure that has the overall regulatory oversight over all financial intermediaries in Ghana. This Sector Ministry has the overall responsibilities to develop, implement and supervise the financial governance structure in Ghana. The Sector Ministry is assigned the responsibility for also providing the policy framework for the financial sector while the actual regulation of the sector within the policy framework is assigned to the Bank of Ghana, Securities and Exchange Commission, National Insurance Commission and the National Pension Regulatory Authority.

The existing regulatory arrangement for financial services involve four regulators exercising jurisdiction over different sectors of the financial industry. It is fragmented with each regulatory agency being responsible for a particular segment. In many areas of financial sector operations, reasonably good laws and regulations exist. However, the difficulty has been the capacity of regulatory agencies to enforce the existing rules.

According to FINSSP 11, (2012), the search for growth and economies of scale and scope have led to a breakdown of barriers in the financial sector. Universalization of banking, for example, is reflected in the fact that banks are offering a variety of non-banking services alongside their traditional banking services.

Such services include insurance, stock brokerage, investment management, investment banking and financial advisory services. Similarly, insurance companies are offering investment related and retirement products. Ghana’s regulatory structure has not caught up with this convergence.

Fragmentation of regulation has resulted in the following anomalies: (i) Insurance companies offering investment management services and retirement plans but are not subject to the regulatory oversight of the SEC and NPRA which have regulatory responsibilities for investment advisory services and pension plans. (ii) Accountants, lawyers and banks are exempted from licensing as investment advisers while management consultants who offer the same services are not, (iii) Banks are dealers in the government securities market but are not subject to regulatory oversight by the SEC, thus leaving investors in the government securities market with less protection than what is envisaged in the Security Industry Law (FINSSP 11, 2012).

The regulatory response to this has been a trend in a number of jurisdictions towards the move to the twin peaks model of financial regulation. This allows a prudential regulator to supervise the range of activities more efficiently by taking a holistic view of the financial services market and market conduct regulator to ensure that customers and investor are well protected.

In the current regulatory framework, there are a number of regulatory authorities with responsibility for the financial sector regulation, each with substantially different powers and functions. This regulatory landscape, while largely ineffective is also fragmented and that has led to gaps in regulatory application in some instances and allowed for regulatory arbitrages in others.

The first challenge relates to the coordination mechanisms between Ghana’s key financial regulators. Although legal reforms have been made to address challenges identified through various collapses, there continues to be a preference for informal bilateral and multilateral coordination mechanisms over formal, statute-based mechanisms. Where coordination has been identified as a problem, regulators have responded by enhancing regulatory memoranda of understanding and establishing informal information-sharing measures to make sure that each regulator is aware of the role of other regulators in the system

Second, the current silo approach model of financial regulation has been a recipe for regulatory arbitrage. A potential danger with the multiplicity of agencies as experienced in the Ghanaian financial system is that overall effectiveness was impaired as financial institutions engaged in various forms of regulatory and supervisory arbitrages.

This problem has been put by Abrams and Taylor in the following way: regulatory arbitrage “can involve the placement of a particular financial service or product in that part of given financial conglomerates where the supervisory costs are lowest, or supervisory oversight is least intrusive. It has also led financial firms to design new financial institutions or redesign existing ones strictly to minimize or avoid supervisory oversight.

This has induced “competition in laxity” as different agencies compete to avoid a migration of financial institutions to the competing agencies. Mensgold saga is a case of regulatory arbitrage not regulatory failure as being paraded by some researchers and academia. There were series of institutional failures such as Economic Crime Agency, Financial Intelligence Center, Registrar General Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, Bank of Ghana, BNI and Ghana Police Service. The lack of a strong regulatory response, along with under-developed formal financial and regulatory institutions, has allowed Ponzi schemes such as Mensgold, Savanna Brokerage and Global Coin Community Help etc.

Third, the growing internationalization and regionalization of the Ghanaian financial system over the last two decades had provided the financial markets with cross border contagion issues, cross border supervisory and consolidated problems, pricing efficiency and risk dispersion and also encouraged product innovation and complexities.

Even though the Bank of Ghana since 2014 had reviewed its cross- border supervision and consolidated supervision, but other regulators such as National Insurance Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission are yet to undertake consolidated supervision despite the presence of foreign subsidiaries of insurance companies and the growing importance of financial conglomerates in Ghana.

The increasing internationalization and regionalization of the Ghanaian financial markets had also accentuated the international dimension to regulation which in turn has implications for the institutional structure of multiple agencies both at the national and international levels.

Fourth, the current fragmented approach is discredited for inefficiency, complexity, confusion and cost ineffectiveness to the regulated and government. The hallmark of fragmented regulatory regime is their inability to anticipate how to address future financial distress or crisis or adapt to market innovation and development. Additionally, it is argued that they are susceptible to capture by the regulated. Conceivably, because none of the regulators has capacity to “look at the financial market as a whole” no governmental agency commands all the necessary information to monitor systemic financial risk. The cardinal question is whether the foregoing challenges are sufficiently weighty to constitute the impetus for shift in regulatory paradigm.

Fifth, the emergence of financial conglomerates and universal banking licensing concept in 2003 had challenged the traditional demarcation between multiple regulatory agencies and had made the business of regulation more complex.

In particular, the issue arises as to whether a structure based on specialist agencies supervising different parts of the business of a financial conglomerate might lose oversight of the financial institution as a whole. According to IMF country assessment report (2011) on Ghana’s financial stability, it opined that the exact scope of financial conglomerates in the financial sector was not fully known.

However, the IMF noted that nine universal banks which accounted for about 55% of the total banking assets, had subsidiaries in securities firms as well as insurance companies. Since the banks were not supervised on a consolidated basis and there were also no mapping of shareholders and common directors.

Sixth, regulatory overlap remained another challenge in the Ghanaian financial services sector. The overlap between the regulatory objectives of financial regulators in Ghana appears to be more critical issue in a practical sense. Regulatory overlap refers to the situation where products or services, transactions and other activities undertaken in the financial services sector are subject to the regulation of two or more regulators, giving rise to potential conflict and difficulties in compliance.

Seventh, regulatory coordination has also been a major challenge for the multiple regulators in Ghana. There are no informal bilateral arrangements between each of the four regulators as well as no formal Council of Financial Regulators to facilitate coordination amongst the four Ghanaian regulators. There is a challenge of providing the effective coordination mechanisms required of a multi-agency system. It is broadly recognized that regulatory frameworks that divide authority between multiple agencies require strong coordination mechanisms to ensure that issues needing regulatory oversight do not fall through the gaps.

Therefore, the main arguments against the silo- based model included the fragmentation of regulatory arrangements, competition between regulators and confusion for the regulated population as a result of different objectives, staff, styles and information technology systems between regulators, with flow on-effects on the wider population and hence therefore a call for regulatory paradigm shift to the twin peaks model.

The twin peaks model of regulation in Ghana will seek to create a stable and more inclusive financial sector which is needed to support increased economic growth and development in Ghana.  At a macroeconomic level, a stable and well- developed financial sector will support real economic activity through the efficient channeling of savings into productive forms of investment, contributing to the country’s objectives on job creation and a more inclusive economy.

For individuals and firms, access to affordable and reliable financial products and services enables people to engage in economic transactions on a daily basis, to save for retirement and other long- term goals, to insure against varied risks and avoid an over reliance on debt and exploitative or reckless lending practices in Ghana.

Access to appropriate financial products and services in Ghana is necessary for economic growth and well -being is to be genuinely inclusive.

The rationale underpinning the adoption of the Twin Peaks model of financial regulation in Ghana can be seen in South Africa and other countries such as Australia and UK. The rationale for Twin Peaks Model reflects four primary considerations.

First, market developments in the post financial sector reform period in Ghana, increased financial conglomerates and the blurring of the boundaries between financial products and services. Second, the availability of economies of scope and the importance of allocating scare regulatory resources efficiently and effectively.

Third, the benefits of setting a twin peaks model would improve coordination and cooperation among regulators and fourth, the clarity of making both prudential regulator and market conduct regulator accountable for its performance against statutory objectives for the twin peaks regulatory model. Twin peaks model will be a comprehensive and complete system for regulating the Ghanaian financial sector.

It aims to ensure better outcomes for financial customers and the wider economy, by ensuring that customers are treated fairly, that their funds are protected against risk of institutions failing, and by reducing risk of using public funds to protect the economy from systemic failures. A twin peaks system also represents a decisive shift from the existing fragmented regulatory approach, minimizing regulatory arbitrages and overlaps or forum shopping. It will also focus on implementing a more streamlined system of licensing, supervision, enforcement, customers complain, and customer advice as well as education across the Ghanaian financial system.

The twin peaks model of financial regulation is a regulatory model which creates two regulators for the financial services sector: A prudential regulator regulating the solvency and liquidity of the financial service sectors and a market conduct regulator who regulates how financial services institutions (i.e. Banks, insurance, capital market and pension funds) conduct their business, design and how to price their products and treat their customers.

Twin Peaks Model: (i) reduces the risk of regulatory overlaps and duplication that can arise with multiple regulators and conversely, the risk of gaps in the regulatory coverage and enforcement, (ii) strengthen  the accountability of regulator (accountability does not diffuse across multiple regulators) and reduces the potential for blame shifting, (iii) increase economies of scale and scope in market supervision, potentially contributing to better use of resources, regulatory effectiveness and reduces administrative costs.

This is particularly important for small country and financial market such as Ghana, (iv) allow development and implementation of a unified and consistent approach to market conduct regulation, supervision and enforcement across the entire Ghanaian financial system reducing regulatory arbitrage, (v) allow better monitoring of issues affecting the entire financial system, as well as rapid policy responses, (vi) facilitates the regulation and supervision of financial conglomerates, where financial firms are operating in more than one segment of the financial market, and (vii) eliminates potential conflicts that can arise from different regulatory objectives between multiple regulators.

Here is a new paradigm for thinking about the way jurisdiction like Ghana can create and organize regulatory agencies.

The twin peaks model of financial regulation helps

  1. To strengthen Ghana’s approach to market conduct regulation which is non-existent in the financial services sector in Ghana thereby improve confidence and create a sustainable financial services sector.
  2. To create a more resilient, stable financial system that will help prevent distresses and crises from developing and more easily resolve those distresses and crises that occur, at a lower cost to customers, consumers and tax payers.
  3. To expand access to the financial services sector through financial inclusion and
  4. To combat financial crimes and money laundering activities in Ghana   


Four key motivations for a twin peaks model of financial regulation:

  1. The need for regulator to deal with market abuses such as insider dealings and ensure adequate investors and consumer protection in the Ghanaian financial services sector.
  2. The need for legislation when financial services institutions experiences capital, liquidity or solvency pressures
  3. Under the twin peaks model of regulation there will be consistent regulatory standards for all financial services institutions
  4. Cooperation and coordination between regulators will minimize the regulatory gaps and arbitrages


Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)

The prudential regulator’s strategic objective will be to maintain and enhance the safety and soundness of the regulated financial institutions. This will include macro and micro prudential regulation and supervision.

The prudential regulator will be responsible for assessing and addressing system risk across the financial services sectors and for the prudential regulation of banks, insurances, pension funds and capital markets. The new regulatory architecture will ensure that macro-prudential regulation of the Ghanaian financial system is coordinated effectively with the prudential regulation of individual financial firms, and that a new, more judgement focused approach to regulation of firm is adopted so that business models can be challenged, risks identified and actions taken to preserve financial stability.


Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA)

The market conduct regulations strategic objective will be to protect consumers, and customers of financial services institutions and promote confidence in the Ghanaian financial service sectors. The regulation of business conduct within the entire financial system, including the conduct of firms towards their retail customers and the conduct of participants in the wholesale financial markets will be carried out by a dedicated single body with focused and clear statutory objectives and regulatory functions.

The Government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning will therefore create dedicated consumer protection and market authority with primary responsibility to promote confidence in the financial services and markets. This objective will have two important components. First, the protection of consumer through a strong consumer regulator, and second, through promoting confidence in the integrity and efficiency of the Ghana’s financial markets.


The mandate for Financial Sector Conduct Authority will: –

  1. Promote the fairly treatment of financial services customers
  2. Protect and enhance the efficiency and integrity of Ghanaian financial markets, and
  1. Contribute to the financial sector’s policy objective of financial stability, financial inclusion and combating financial crimes and money lending.
  2. Perform the duties impartially and professionally will be funded through government subvention and levy- based system on the regulated financial firms.
  3. Provide financial customers and potential financial customers with financial education programs and otherwise promoting financial literacy and financial capability.


In summary, the move in Ghana towards a “twin peaks model” of financial regulation will be significant reform that will promote financial stability and strengthen Ghana’s ability to manage and mitigate the effects of financial crises. The most compelling argument for the twin peaks model is to enhance the effective management of systemic risks and consumer protection.

For instance, if entities are conglomerates covering banking, insurance, securities and pension then it may be difficult for a particular regulator for a particular sub-sector to draw a view of the overall risks facing the entity. A unified regulator under the twin peaks model, on the other hand would be able to understand and monitor risks across the sub-sectors and develop policies to address the risks facing the entire conglomerates.

The experiences of UK, South Africa and Kenya will provide some insights into the challenges that this model presents, particularly in the areas of coordination and the various ways in which these challenges might be overcome. One of the key lessons suggested by the South Africa experience will be legislative and regulatory framework which will be necessary- but of itself insufficient -element in terms of achieving the desired outcome, of equal importance will be the “culture of coordination” under which the main will be regulatory performance rather than regulatory structure.

There are two main features which stands out as being critical to the effective operation of the Twin Peaks model of financial regulation in Ghana. The first is clarity in terms of responsibilities and objectives of each regulator, which requires a clear demarcation between the roles of regulators and the minimization of regulatory overlaps and arbitrages.

The second, which is closely related to the first, is a framework of coordination that encourages both regulators to share information proactively and cooperatively in the performance of their supervisory and enforcement functions.


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The Changing face of Banking in Ghana: Is our Central Bank (Bank of Ghana) a good or bad leader?



“In character and temperament, the typical African of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person, lacking in self-control, discipline, and foresight. Naturally courageous, and naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity, with little sense of veracity, fond of music and loving weapons as an oriental love jewellery.  His thoughts are concentrated on the events and feelings of the moment, and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future or grief for the past.

His mind is far nearer to the animal world than that of the European or Asiatic, and exhibits something of the animals’ placidity and want of desire to rise beyond the state he has reached.  Through the ages the African appears to have evolved no organised religious creed, and though some tribes appear to believe in a deity, the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic animalism and seems more often to take the form of a vague dread of the supernatural.

He lacks the power of organisation, and is conspicuously deficient in the management and control alike of men or business.  He loves the display of power, but fails to realise its responsibility.  He will work hard with a less incentive than most races.  He has the courage of the fighting animal – an instinct rather than a moral virtue

        (The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa, (1962, Page 69)) 

One may interpret the quote above in an indifferent way.  Whichever way you do, it is history.  Rather, let us be guided by the history.

Management is more than just a word; but a full-fledged science.  Management requires varied options to resolve different challenges as it evolves.  Each challenge may differ in origination and growth. The application of management methodology (as science) means same methodology may apply in various scenarios such as politics, sports, corporate environments, family settings, and even personal relationships.  Underpinning the science of management is the art of leadership, team work and delegation.

Currently, Ghana’s banking system is undergoing an enormous and very significant change; which, in the end, will define what our commercial banks in Ghana are made of.  We are witnessing spate of merges and acquisitions.  From a neutral point of view, this can be seen as a natural transformation cycle in industrial growth; when entities within the industry has to respond to environmental and global market changes.  So, one may be right to conclude that these changes would continue unabated.

Honestly, the Ghanaian society opinion is visibly split into three (3) groups which can be classified into The Haves, The Stimulus and The Have Nots.

The Haves

The first group are those who believe that the Central Bank is in the right direction inter alia doing the right thing.  By proportion, they are mainly characterised by highly learned academicians, professionals and educated aristocrats of the society.  A minor proportion of this group may not have long corporate practical experience, by exception.

The Stimulus

This second group are those who believe that the Central Bank is not totally wrong but are managing the events poorly.  This group holds a partial view that the actions of the regulator (Bank of Ghana) are compellingly undermining the confidence in our financial system, resulting in collapses of the banks and unemployment. This group holds the view that eventually the actions of the regulator may impact adversely on the Ghanaian economy.  This group are highly characterised by successful businessmen and women, literate and learned scholars with good track record in corporate and business affairs.

The Have Nots

The third group are those who turn to have no self-opinions by themselves.  This is mainly because this group has no deeper understanding of economics and finance.  Therefore, they turn to rely on information thrown to them by the social communication networks such as the media and the social networks– being tossed to and fro by social media and politics.

The central bank is an independent institution or establishment mandated to achieve the goals of stabilizing a nation’s currency, regulates banks, help keep low unemployment, and manage macro and fiscal policies in such a way as to prevent inflation in the country.

Why the need for a Central Bank?

We need to understand why the Central Bank was established to guide our understanding of their operations

Manage the nation’s currency –has the sole responsibility to oversee to the issuing and reprinting of notes and currencies to use by the country at all times.

Manage the supply of money – Acts as the manager responsible for the increase and decrease of the quantity of money in circulation within the society at any given point in time.

Manage the interest rates – Be able to hold the interest rates of the nation at a desired level conducive for the society and businesses.

Oversee the commercial banking system – Act as a supervisor (referee) to the commercial (retail) banks to ensure fairness, professionalism, and robustness.

Act as a “lender of last resort” to the banking sector – Be responsible as a banker to the commercial banks.  As the name implies, be the lender of last resort (Fall-back) to ensure the retail banks do not run out of liquidity in times of financial crisis.  In effect, the central bank performs a supervisory and regulatory role to ensure the solvency of the banks, and to prevent bank runs, and prevent reckless or fraudulent behaviour by banks.

Managing the banking crisis requires leadership

From the science of management comes out the word strategy.  The art of strategy originates from the military.  Strategy is derived from the word “strategos” meaning the “the art of the general”.  Implicitly, the art of leadership requires one to be a visionary, courageous, decisive, and yet humane.

There is no better time for our central bank to require more leadership than now.  Like parents, when parents are serious about their children future success they do deal with them seriously from beginning.  Such parents are firm in actions and do teach their children how to respect in society, and teach them how to develop acceptable behaviours.

The Central Bank has to show to the whole nation and its global partners that it possesses the capability and capacity to foresee ahead the impact of the changes for the next 20 years or more.  Where required, the Central Bank would have to delegate to its appointed agencies to handle the required tasks economically, efficiently and effectively.

In handling the unforeseen challenges, the Bank of Ghana, our central bank has to show a daring attitude; to make the necessary changes required.  The Central Bank is the leader in the banking and finance industry in Ghana.  It has to hold the ball and make the necessary cut where, when, and how it wants the future banking industry in Ghana to shape up to with others in the global market.  Furthermore, the Central Bank has to make these decisions timely; so as to achieve the required impact.

The success of a strategy depends on the timely implementation of the strategy.  A bad strategy which is implemented timely can yield better results than good strategy implemented late that yields bad result.

The Ghanaian banking sector is facing its most critical time in the global competition.  To quote Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (My Vision: Challenges in the Race for Excellence,2014) he wrote: “With each new day in Africa, a gazelle wakes up knowing he must outrun the fastest lion or perish”.  The same situation is facing our banking and finance industry now.  We must either outrun the looming global competitive or regulatory threats or perish.

As Ghanaians, we have to join the race to be guaranteed success.  We cannot sit on the pew and yet complain for improvement all the time.  We are all soldiers in the development of our country Ghana.  Teamwork is obviously the major driving force.  At this juncture, we need all hands and minds to be on same wave length.  So, all Ghanaians, whether you are a labourer, farmer, trader, teacher, journalist, lecturer, professional, politician or unemployed, the onus is on us to be of one mind and support our central bank to get us safely through this turbulence.

In equating my thoughts on the ongoing challenges in our Ghanaian banking and financial system to any game of sports with a referee or umpire, whom do supporters blame for a bad game (full of injuries and casualties)?  A Ghanaian author, Israelmore Ayivor, once wrote, “You may regret for messing up on few occasions, but you need to appreciate the fact that blames don’t clean the mess; they only smear the blame on your face. Let us make changes!”  All said and done, I wish it all ends like this latin phrase: Dei gratia problemur rebus – meaning By the Grace of God, let us be judged by our deeds.

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