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Kenney Rule


The Kenney Rule is a financial metric used by banks and financial institutions to assess operational efficiency. It calculates a bank’s income from operations (income earned from its core business activities) as a percentage of its total overhead expenses (such as salaries, office expenses, and other operating costs). A higher percentage indicates better operational efficiency, while a lower percentage signifies the need for improvements in managing expenses and generating revenue.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Kenney Rule” is: /ˈkɛni ruːl/

Key Takeaways

  1. Kenney Rule is an industrial safety guideline aimed at reducing the risks associated with working on high-voltage electrical equipment.
  2. The rule entails the following measures: locking out and tagging electrical equipment when being serviced, ensuring workers have sufficient protective equipment, and verifying the absence of voltage before working.
  3. Using Kenney Rule has resulted in a reduction of accidents and improved workplace safety practices, contributing to a culture of safety in industries working with high-voltage equipment.


The Kenney Rule is an important concept in business and finance as it serves as a valuable guideline for determining the ideal amount of cash reserves a bank should maintain to sustain its operations securely and efficiently. Formulated by Wall-Street executive, Robert Kenney, the rule assesses the proportion of loans to deposits, ensuring that banks have sufficient liquidity to meet their financial obligations, protect investors’ interests, and maintain the overall stability of the financial system. Adhering to the Kenney Rule promotes prudent lending practices, reduces the risk of bank failures, and helps prevent a ripple effect throughout the economy in times of financial stress, ultimately contributing to a more robust and resilient banking sector.


When it comes to managing the business of insurance organizations, particularly those dealing with property and casualty insurance, the Kenney Rule serves as an essential measure to maintain solvency and stability. The primary purpose of the Kenney Rule is to ensure that these insurers maintain a healthy ratio between their premiums and the overall amount of surplus in the company. By doing so, the rule aims to safeguard companies against unexpected financial strains that may arise due to excessive business growth and large losses from catastrophic events, which could potentially jeopardize their ability to pay policyholders when claims are made.

The Kenney Rule is utilized as a tool for assessing and managing an insurance company’s capacity for underwriting business without incurring the risk of financial distress. More specifically, it prescribes a target ratio that should be established between the company’s net written premiums (NWP) and its policyholders’ surplus (PHS). This target ratio enables insurance firms to adequately monitor and control their business growth, ensuring that they underwrite a reasonable amount of premiums as compared to their surplus. By adhering to this principle, companies can uphold their financial solvency and meet regulatory guidelines while also mitigating the risk exposure that comes with accepting new business.


The Kenney Rule is a financial metric that’s often used in the insurance industry to determine the level of an insurer’s reserves and capital in relation to its net premium income. It is also known as the two-to-one rule, which suggests that insurance companies should maintain assets or reserves that are twice the level of their annual premiums. Here are three real-world examples of how the Kenney Rule has been applied in the business and finance realm:

1. Example 1 – Insurance Company A: Insurance Company A has annual net premiums of $1 million. According to the Kenney Rule, the company should maintain at least $2 million in reserves and capital to maintain a healthy balance and cover potential claims. If the company finds that their capital is below this threshold, they may decide to raise more capital, restructure their investments, or increase premiums to meet the Kenney Rule.

2. Example 2 – Insurance Regulators: Insurance regulators in various jurisdictions may use the Kenney Rule as a benchmark when assessing the financial health of insurance companies operating in their region. If a company consistently falls short of the recommended reserves and capital as per the Kenney Rule, regulators may impose corrective actions or stricter oversight to ensure that the company maintains adequate financial resources to cover its obligations.

3. Example 3 – Investment Analysis: Investors and financial analysts may use the Kenney Rule as a tool to evaluate the financial health of insurance companies before making investment decisions. If a particular company consistently meets or exceeds the Kenney Rule’s suggested financial ratios, it may be perceived as a more stable and well-capitalized company, potentially leading to increased investor confidence and higher stock prices. On the other hand, insurance companies with financials that don’t meet the Kenney Rule may be seen as less attractive investment options due to concerns about their ability to cover potential claims.

In summary, the Kenney Rule serves as a guiding principle for insurance companies on maintaining adequate reserves and capital, provides a benchmark for regulators to assess the financial health of insurers in their jurisdiction, and offers a tool for investors to analyze the financial stability of insurance companies.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Kenney Rule?

The Kenney Rule, sometimes spelled “Kenny Rule,” is a financial principle used by banks to measure their exposure to risk. Named after Richard Kenney, the rule provides a guideline for banks to maintain a maximum ratio of loans to capital assets, thereby ensuring they have sufficient capital to cover potential losses.

How is the Kenney Rule calculated?

The Kenney Rule is calculated by taking the bank’s total loans and dividing them by the bank’s total capital assets. Typically, the Kenney Rule requires a ratio of no more than 6 to 1, meaning a bank cannot have more than six times the amount of loans as it has capital assets.

Why is the Kenney Rule important?

The Kenney Rule is important because it helps maintain the financial stability of banks by limiting their exposure to risk. By adhering to the rule, banks ensure they have enough capital assets to cover potential losses from bad loans, which reduces the likelihood of bank failures and helps maintain confidence in the financial system.

What happens if a bank does not follow the Kenney Rule?

If a bank does not follow the Kenney Rule, it increases the risk of insolvency and could potentially face regulatory penalties or restrictions. In extreme cases, violating the Kenney Rule could result in the bank’s failure or intervention by regulators to prevent further damage to the financial system.

Are there any criticisms of the Kenney Rule?

Critics argue that the Kenney Rule can be overly conservative, which could limit a bank’s ability to make loans and engage in other activities that may provide economic value. Additionally, the rule may not always provide an accurate measure of a bank’s risk, as some assets deemed “low risk” might ultimately pose a greater threat to financial stability than the rule suggests.

Do all banks follow the Kenney Rule?

While not all banks strictly adhere to the Kenney Rule, many banks use the concept as a guideline when managing their risk exposures. Further, some countries and financial regulatory bodies enforce similar rules or capital adequacy requirements to maintain the stability of their financial systems.

How does the Kenney Rule relate to financial regulations like Basel III?

The Kenney Rule serves as a precursor to more modern financial regulations like Basel III, which establishes more comprehensive and complex capital adequacy requirements. Both the Kenney Rule and Basel III aim to ensure banks have enough capital to withstand financial shocks and stresses, but Basel III is considered more sophisticated and tailored to modern banking practices.

Related Finance Terms

  • Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR)
  • Loan Underwriting
  • Commercial Real Estate Lending
  • Net Operating Income (NOI)
  • Debt Yield Ratio

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