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Tier 1 Leverage Ratio


The Tier 1 Leverage Ratio is a financial metric used by regulators to determine the capital adequacy of a bank. It is calculated by dividing Tier 1 capital (which includes common equity and disclosed reserves) by the bank’s total consolidated assets. A higher ratio indicates a bank’s better financial health and ability to meet its financial obligations.


The phonetics for “Tier 1 Leverage Ratio” is: “Tear One Leh-vuh-rij Ray-shio”

Key Takeaways


  1. Definition: The Tier 1 Leverage Ratio is a measurement used by regulators to evaluate a bank’s core capital against its total assets. It shows how much of the bank’s capital comes from its equity and indicates how much risk is associated with the bank’s assets.
  2. Importance: The ratio is of great importance for indicating the bank’s ability to meet its financial obligations. A higher ratio signifies greater financial stability and less risk of insolvency for the bank, thus assuring investors, creditors, and consumers of the bank’s financial health.
  3. Regulation: The Tier 1 Leverage Ratio is regulated by banking authorities globally to ensure that banks maintain an adequate level of capital relative to their overall risk profile. Banks with a low tier 1 leverage ratio can face restrictions or requirements to raise more capital to ensure financial stability.



The Tier 1 Leverage Ratio is an important financial metric used by regulators and investors to evaluate a bank’s capital adequacy and financial stability. This ratio measures a bank’s core capital against its total exposures, which include on-balance sheet liabilities, off-balance sheet exposures and derivatives. A high ratio indicates that a bank has a considerable amount of capital to cover its potential losses, hence is more capable of enduring financial distress. On the other hand, a low ratio suggests that the bank could be vulnerable to financial stress. Therefore, maintaining an acceptable Tier 1 Leverage Ratio is critical for banks not only to meet regulatory requirements but also to assure investors and customers of their financial health and resilience.


The Tier 1 Leverage Ratio is a key financial metric used to evaluate a bank’s financial health, mainly its capital adequacy and ability to meet its financial obligations. This ratio provides insight into the bank’s leverage, which is the extent to which it uses debt to fund its operations. Banks with a high Tier 1 Leverage Ratio are considered more capable of withstanding financial distress and adverse market conditions. It is primarily used by regulators, analysts and investors to assess a bank’s risk exposure and financial resilience, contributing significantly to the stability and safety of financial systems globally.The Tier 1 Leverage Ratio was introduced as part of Basel III, an international regulatory framework developed to ensure the stability of the banking system. The aim was to limit the excessive growth of banks and prevent the riskiness of their activities. The Tier 1 Leverage Ratio promotes transparency regarding a bank’s on- and off-balance sheet exposure. By enforcing a minimum requirement, it helps prevent the accumulation of excessive leverage, thereby reinforcing the bank’s shock absorption capacity.


1. JP Morgan Chase – As of the end of 2020, JP Morgan Chase & Co reported a Tier 1 leverage ratio of approximately 9%. This suggests that for every $100 in its exposures, the bank has around $9 held in Tier 1 capital. This ratio plays a crucial role in mitigating risks and maintaining the bank’s stable financial position.2. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) – RBC announced a Tier 1 leverage ratio of 5.1% in its 2020 Annual Report. This was above the minimum required ratio of 3%, indicating a healthy financial position. RBC’s reported ratio reflects the bank’s focus on maintaining high-quality capital to absorb any potential losses.3. Wells Fargo & Co – Wells Fargo reported its Tier 1 leverage ratio as almost 9% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Despite some financial challenges faced by Wells Fargo, this ratio indicates that the bank has a fairly strong leverage position when compared to the general threshold of a 4-5% Tier 1 leverage ratio applied by regulatory authorities.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Tier 1 Leverage Ratio in finance?

The Tier 1 Leverage Ratio is a measure used in the finance industry to evaluate a bank’s capital adequacy. It compares a bank’s core capital against its total exposures.

How is the Tier 1 Leverage Ratio calculated?

The ratio is calculated by dividing a bank’s Tier 1 capital by its consolidated total assets. It’s usually expressed as a percentage.

What is considered a good Tier 1 Leverage Ratio?

Generally, a Tier 1 Leverage Ratio above 6% indicates a healthy financial institution, but the regulatory minimum differs from country to country.

What does a low Tier 1 Leverage Ratio indicate?

A low Tier 1 Leverage Ratio might indicate that a bank is potentially unable to absorb losses without going bankrupt. This could signal a risk for investors and depositors.

What is the difference between Tier 1 Leverage Ratio and Tier 1 Capital Ratio?

While both ratios are used to measure a bank’s capital adequacy, the Tier 1 Capital Ratio is calculated by dividing the bank’s Tier 1 capital by its risk-weighted assets whereas the Tier 1 Leverage Ratio is calculated by dividing the bank’s Tier 1 capital by its consolidated total assets.

How often is the Tier 1 Leverage Ratio reviewed?

To ensure financial stability, banks conduct internal reviews regularly and regulatory bodies also conduct periodic audits. It is analyzed both quarterly and annually.

What is included in Tier 1 Capital?

Tier 1 capital is the core capital and includes the highest quality capital a bank possesses, such as equity capital and disclosed reserves.

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