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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FSOC highlights potential risks in 2021 annual report

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Bank Regulatory Federal Issues FDIC OCC Climate-Related Financial Risks Fintech Digital Assets LIBOR Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On December 17, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) released its annual report highlighting significant financial market and regulatory developments, potential financial risks, and recommendations for promoting U.S. financial stability. The report focused on several recommendations that FSOC member agencies should take to mitigate systemic risk and ensure financial stability.

  • Climate-related Financial Risk. FSOC advised financial regulators to “promote consistent, comparable, and decision-useful disclosures that allow investors and financial institutions to take climate-related financial risks into account in their investment and lending decisions.” Taking these steps, FSOC noted, will enable financial regulators to promote resilience within the financial-sector and help support an orderly, economy-wide transition to net-zero emissions. FSOC also recognized the importance of incorporating climate-related risks into risk management practices and supervisory expectations for regulated entities. The same day, acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu issued a statement supporting FSOC’s new Climate-Related Financial Risk Committee, which was announced in October (covered by InfoBytes here). “The CFRC will play an important role in identifying priority areas for assessing and mitigating climate-related risks to the financial system, coordinating information sharing, aiding in the development of common approaches and standards, and facilitating communication across FSOC members and interested parties. Addressing climate-related risks to the financial system requires the collaboration of multiple parties and partnerships, using many strategies and mechanisms.”
  • Digital Assets. FSOC recommended that federal and state regulators continue to examine financial risks posed by emerging uses of digital assets and coordinate efforts to address potential issues arising in this space. FSOC advised member agencies to consider the recommendations in the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets’ “Report on Stablecoins” (covered by InfoBytes here), which was published in coordination with the FDIC and the OCC.
  • LIBOR Transition. FSOC commended the Alternative Reference Rates Committee’s efforts to facilitate an orderly transition from LIBOR to alternative reference rates, and advised member agencies to “determine whether regulatory relief is necessary to encourage market participants to address legacy LIBOR portfolios.” Additionally, member agencies should “continue to use their supervisory authority to understand the status of regulated entities’ transition from LIBOR, including their legacy LIBOR exposure and plans to address that exposure.”
  • Cybersecurity. FSOC advised federal and state agencies to “continue to monitor cybersecurity risks and conduct cybersecurity examinations of financial institutions and financial infrastructures to ensure, among other things, robust and comprehensive cybersecurity monitoring, especially in light of new risks posed by the pandemic, ransomware incidents, and supply chain attacks.”

While noting that financial conditions have normalized since spring 2020, FSOC noted that “risks to U.S. financial stability today are elevated compared to before the pandemic” and that “the outlook for global growth is characterized by elevated uncertainty, with the potential for continued volatility and unevenness of growth across countries and sectors.”

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