Silicon Valley Bank Crisis: Identifying Key Lessons That Can Be Drawn From It


The SVB Bank Crisis was a significant event that unfolded in the financial sector on 10 March 2023, causing widespread repercussions and raising questions about risk management practices within the banking industry. This research paper aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the SVB Bank Crisis, examining its causes, consequences, and lessons that every nation can learn from the incident.  The paper begins by exploring the factors that contributed to the crisis, including the bank’s decisions to convert short-term deposits into long-term investments and the lack of transparency and accountability within the organization. It highlights the departure of the Chief Risk Officer(CRO) and the absence of risk analysis for an extended period as significant indicators of potential vulnerabilities. Furthermore, the research paper delves into the regulatory framework surrounding the banking sector, discussing how certain actions, such as exemptions from stress tests and the rolling back of post-financial crisis banking rules, could have impacted the risk landscape and contributed to the crisis. Drawing from the SVB Bank Crisis, the paper identifies several key lessons that all the stakeholders like banks, central banks, central governments, depositors and investors can learn to. These lessons encompass areas such as robust risk assessment, effective governance, and risk culture, strengthened regulatory compliance, comprehensive risk management policies and procedures, robust internal controls, ongoing monitoring and reporting, talent management and training, scenario analysis and stress testing, effective risk communication, and the importance of continuous improvement. Through a thorough analysis of the SVB Bank Crisis and the subsequent discussion of preventive measures, this research paper aims to contribute to the understanding of risk management practices in the banking industry and provide insights for policymakers, regulators, and banking professionals to prevent similar crises in the future.


Bank failures are not unfamiliar occurrences, and each time people hear news of a bank experiencing losses or collapsing, They become concerned about the potential impact. The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank marked the second-largest bank failure in American history, following the 2008 collapse of Washington Mutual Bank, which had significant repercussions on the global economy. On March 10 2023, Silicon Valley Bank of California collapsed after a series of events, and shortly after, another bank, Signature Bank, faced a similar fate, sending shockwaves across the world. While many bank failures are often associated with fraudulent activities, SVB’s crisis did not involve any scams or misappropriation of funds. Instead, the crisis stemmed from incorrect decision-making by the bank and a failure to grasp market dynamics, which would have been evident to anyone with basic knowledge of the economy. Notably, there were lapses in responsibility, not only from the bank itself but also from regulatory bodies such as The Federal Reserve System, FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), and OCC (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency).


SVB, also known as Silicon Valley Bank, was established in 1983 by Bill Biggerstaff and Robert Medearis. Bill Biggerstaff, a former executive at Wells Fargo, and Robert Medearis, a professor at Stanford University, founded the bank in Santa Clara, California. SVB quickly rose to become the 16th largest bank in the United States, specializing in serving the unique needs of startups, technology-based companies, and venture capitalists. During its early years, SVB placed significant emphasis on investing in real estate ventures. In the early 1990s, SVB’s investment portfolio heavily relied on real estate, accounting for approximately 50% of its holdings. However, the bank faced a significant setback in 1992 when the California real estate market experienced a burst, resulting in substantial losses for SVB. This downturn led to an annual loss of $2.2 million for the bank, highlighting the vulnerability of its assets to market fluctuations and the risks associated with concentrating investments in a single sector. In response to the real estate crisis, SVB implemented strategic measures to diversify its investment portfolio. By 1995, real estate investments comprised only around 10% of the bank’s overall holdings. This shift in strategy allowed SVB to reduce its exposure to the volatile real estate market and redirect its focus toward other sectors, fostering a more diversified and resilient investment approach. The challenges faced by SVB in the early 1990s provided valuable lessons in risk management, emphasizing the importance of diversification and adaptability. However, despite the lessons learned, the crisis that unfolded in 2023 presented a similar situation, albeit on a much larger scale. Unfortunately, the challenges proved insurmountable for the bank, leading to its eventual collapse.

Click Here To Download The Paper

Author : Bhavna Aggarwal