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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • CFPB updates CID policy

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 23, the CFPB announced updates to its policy on Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs). According to the Bureau, the new policy is consistent with comments received in response to a 2018 Request for Information, which solicited public feedback on “how best to achieve meaningful burden reduction or other improvement to the CID processes while continuing to achieve the Bureau’s statutory and regulatory objectives” (previously covered by InfoBytes here). Going forward, CIDs will (i) provide additional information on potentially applicable provisions of law that may have been violated; (ii) specify business activities subject to Bureau authority; and (iii) “[i]n investigations where determining the extent of the Bureau’s authority over the relevant activity is one of the significant purposes of the investigation, staff may specifically include that issue in the CID in the interests of further transparency.”  

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB CIDs

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  • FDIC considers modifying living will requirements

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 16, the FDIC issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) and request for comment on modifications to its resolution planning framework (known as living wills) for insured depository institutions with over $50 billion in assets. According to the FDIC, the ANPR is considering three changes to streamline the process: (i) creating tiered planning requirements for living wills based on an institution’s size, complexity, and other factors; (ii) revising the frequency and required content of resolution plan submissions, including eliminating living will submission requirements for certain smaller and less complex institutions; and (iii) improving communication between the FDIC and banks on resolution planning. According to a statement issued by FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams, the ANPR also proposes two alternative concepts for consideration: “Broadly, either approach would require large, complex institutions to continue to submit periodic resolution plans, streamlined compared to the existing plans. Institutions that are relatively smaller and less complex but still subject to the rule would no longer need to submit actual plans, but would still be subject to periodic engagement and capabilities testing.” Comments on the ANPR are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve FDIC Living Wills Supervision

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  • Kraninger’s focus is preventing consumer harm, clarifying “abusive”

    Federal Issues

    On April 17, Kathy Kraninger, Director of the CFPB, spoke before the Bipartisan Policy Center where she reiterated the Bureau’s focus on prevention of harm and announced a symposium that will explore the meaning of “abusive acts or practices” under Section 1031 of the Dodd-Frank Act. In her remarks, Kraninger touched on the four “tools” the Bureau has at its disposal to execute its mission: education, rulemaking, supervision, and enforcement.

    • Education. The Bureau wants to help consumers protect their own interests and choose the right products and service to help themselves. Specifically, the Bureau is focusing on ensuring that American consumers learn to save to be able to absorb a financial shock.
    • Rulemaking. The Bureau will comply with Congressional mandates to promulgate rules or address specific issues through rulemaking, but when the Bureau has discretion, it will focus on “preventing consumer harm by maximizing informed consumer choice, and prohibiting acts or practices which undermine the ability of consumers to choose the products and services that are best for them.” In the coming weeks, the Bureau will release its proposed rules to implement the FDCPA, which will include (i) bright line limits on the number of calls consumers can receive from debt collectors on a weekly basis; (ii) clarity on how collectors may communicate through new technology such as, email and text messages; and (iii) requiring more information at the outset of collection to help consumers better identify debts and understand payment and dispute options. Kraninger stated, “the CFPB must acknowledge that the costs imposed on regulated entities absolutely affect access to, and the availability of, credit to consumers.”
    • Supervision. This tool is the “heart of the agency,” according to Kraninger, as it helps to prevent violations of laws and regulations from happening in the first place. The Bureau will keep in mind that it is not the only regulator examining most entities and will focus on coordination and collaboration with the other regulators so as not to impose unmanageable burdens in examinations.
    • Enforcement. The Bureau will continue to enforce against bad actors that do not comply with the law, as enforcement is “an essential tool that Congress gave the Bureau.” The Bureau will have a “purposeful enforcement regime” to foster compliance and help prevent consumer wrongs. Kraninger is “committed to ensuring that enforcement investigations proceed carefully and purposefully to ensure a fair and thorough evaluation of the facts and law… [and ensuring they] move as expeditiously as possible to resolve enforcement matters, whether through public action or a determination that a particular investigation should be closed.”

    Kraninger also touched on how the Bureau plans to measure success going forward. Kraninger noted that in the past, the Bureau touted its outgoing statistics as a measurement, such as amount of consumer redress and number of complaints handled. However, according to Kraninger, if the Bureau succeeds in fostering a goal of prevention of harm, certain outputs like meritorious complaints would actually be lower. Therefore, the Bureau’s success should be based on how it uses all of its tools. Lastly, Kraninger announced a symposia series that would convene to discuss consumer protections in “today’s dynamic financial services marketplace.” The first will explore the meaning of “abusive acts or practices” under Section 1031 of the Dodd-Frank Act, specifically, to address issues with the “reasonableness” standard. There are no additional details on the date for the symposium but Kraninger noted that this would be the next step in exploring future rulemaking on the issue. The series will also have future events discussing behavioral law and economics, small business loan data collection, disparate impact and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, cost-benefit analysis, and consumer authorized financial data sharing. 

    Additionally, on April 9, acting Deputy Director, Brian Johnson, spoke at the George Mason University Law & Economics Center's Ninth Annual Financial Services Symposium. In his prepared remarks, Johnson emphasized that regulatory rules should be “as simple as possible” when dealing with complex markets as they are easier for a greater portion of actors to understand and adapt to and also promote compliance, “which has the ancillary benefit of making it easier for consumers (not to mention regulators) to distinguish between good and bad actors.” Johnson argued that regulators should not try and dictate specific outcomes in rulemaking. Instead, Johnson stated that “financial regulators should recognize that complex market systems are not a means to accomplish their specific goals” and should “narrowly-tailor rules to address a discrete market failure.” Johnson also touched on the Bureau’s new Office of Innovation, noting that the Bureau’s proposed No Action Letter Program and Product Sandbox will offer firms “the opportunity to expand credit while still preserving important consumer protections,” while assisting the Bureau in learning about new technologies and potential consumer risks. As for the Bureau’s cost-benefit analysis, Johnson said that this activity will not be limited to future actions, but will also be used for “periodic retrospective analysis” because financial markets are “constantly changing, requiring constant reappraisal and verification of the rules that govern the system.”

    Federal Issues CFPB Supervision Enforcement Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Consumer Education Examination FDCPA Abusive UDAAP

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  • OMB requires review of all regulatory materials, including guidance

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 11, acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Russel Vought, sent a memorandum to the heads of all executive agencies announcing that on May 11, agencies will be required to submit all regulatory guidance materials to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review prior to publication. The memo asserts that the Congressional Review Act (CRA) “applies to more than just notice-and-comment rules; it also encompasses a wide range of other regulatory actions, including, inter alia, guidance documents, general statements of policy and interpretive rules” and therefore, agencies should not publish a regulatory action in the Federal Register without first submitting the document to OIRA to determine whether it is considered a “major rule” under the CRA. The CRA defines a “major rule” as one having (i) an annual effect on the economy of at least $100 million; (ii) a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, or federal and state governments; or (iii) significant adverse effects on competition, employment, and U.S.-based enterprises. Should OIRA consider the regulatory action to be a “major rule,” the rule will be submitted to Congress with OIRA’s report and will not become effective sooner than 60 days after its submission. The memo instructs agencies to provide OIRA a quantitative analysis, which includes costs, benefits, and transfer impacts relative to a baseline, “when reasonably possible.” Additionally, the agency’s analysis should include whether the regulatory action would impose a disproportionate cost on a particular group or place a significant burden on the economy.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues OIRA OMB Congressional Review Act

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  • Federal Reserve seeks comments on capital framework for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign banks

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 8, the Federal Reserve Board announced a notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comment (NPRM) seeking to modify its regulation of the regulatory capital requirements for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign banking organizations. Chairman Jerome Powell referred to a proposal issued last fall for refining regulations for domestic banking firms based on risk profiles (previously covered by InfoBytes here), and noted that “because the U.S. operations of most foreign banks tend to have a larger cross-border profile, greater capital markets activities, and higher levels of short-term funding, they often present greater risk than a simpler, more traditional domestic bank.”

    The NPRM builds upon the Federal Reserve’s framework for U.S. firms announced last fall, and states that foreign banking organizations with $100 billion or more in U.S. assets would be assigned to one of three categories based on the size of their U.S. operations as well as the following risk-based indicators: “cross-jurisdictional activity, nonbank assets, off-balance sheet exposure, and weighted short-term wholesale funding.” Under the proposal, foreign banking organizations would be classified into the following three categories: (i) Category II: foreign banking organizations with U.S. assets exceeding $700 billion or $75 billion in cross-border activity; (ii) Category III: foreign banking organizations with more than $250 billion in U.S. assets that also exceed certain risk thresholds; and (iii) Category IV: foreign banking organizations with U.S. assets between $100 billion and $250 billion and minimal risk factors. Category I would be reserved for U.S.-based global systemically important banks.

    A second proposal issued the same day by the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, and the OCC (collectively, the “Agencies”) requests comment on, among other things, whether the Agencies should extend standardized liquidity requirements to foreign banking organizations’ U.S.-based branches and agency networks as well as approaches for doing so.

    Comments on both proposals are due June 21.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve FDIC OCC Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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  • CFPB and Federal Reserve update HMDA examination procedures; CFPB updates ECOA baseline review procedures

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 1, the CFPB and the Federal Reserve Board (Federal Reserve) issued revisions to the HMDA examination procedures covering data collected since January 1, 2018, under the HMDA amendments issued by the Bureau in October 2015 and August 2017, as well as section 104(a) of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (implemented and clarified by the 2018 HMDA Rule, which was covered by InfoBytes in August 2018 here.) According to the Federal Reserve’s CA 19-5, the HMDA examination updates include, (i) Narrative, Examination Objectives, and Examination Procedure sections that were developed by the Task Force on Consumer Compliance of the FFIEC; (ii) Review of Compliance Management System, Examination Conclusions and Wrap-Up, and Examination Checklist sections that were developed in consultation with the FDIC and the OCC; and (iii) sampling, verification, and resubmission procedures. With regard to HMDA data collected prior to January 1, 2018, institutions will continue to be examined according to the interagency HMDA examination procedures “transmitted with CA 09-10 and the HMDA sampling and resubmission procedures transmitted with CA 04-4.”

    Additionally, in April, the CFPB also released updated ECOA baseline review procedures. The procedures consist of five modules: (i) Fair Lending Supervisory History; (ii) Fair Lending Compliance Management System (CMS); (iii) Fair Lending Risks Related to Origination; (iv) Fair Lending Risks Related to Servicing; and (v) Fair Lending Risks Related to Models. According to the Bureau, all exams will cover the Fair Lending CMS module and additional modules will be assigned depending on the scope of examination.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Federal Reserve HMDA ECOA FFIEC Compliance Supervision Examination EGRRCPA

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  • Federal agencies propose rule to reduce impact of large bank failures

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 2, the FDIC, Federal Reserve Board, and the OCC (together, the “Agencies”) released a joint statement announcing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) to limit the “interconnectedness” of large banking organizations and reduce systemic risk resulting from the failure of global systemically important bank holding companies (GSIBs), certain intermediate holding companies, and GSIB foreign banking organizations. Among other measures, the NPR proposes that, to discourage GSIBs and advanced approaches banking organizations (generally firms with total consolidated assets of $250 billion or more or at least $10 billion in on-balance sheet foreign exposure) from purchasing large amounts of unsecured debt issued by GSIBs, the Agencies propose to subject these investments “to deduction from the . . . organization’s own regulatory capital.” This debt, the Agencies note in the statement, is used to recapitalize the GSIB during bankruptcy or resolution as a result of failure, and the proposal is intended to reduce both interconnectedness within the financial system and systemic risk. Comments on the NPR are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve FDIC OCC Supervision Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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  • Federal Reserve amends payment system risk policy applicable to foreign banking organizations

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 1, the Federal Reserve Board published a revised policy statement on payment system risk (PSR policy) in connection with procedures used to determine the “net debit cap and maximum daylight overdraft capacity” of U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banking organizations (FBO). Among other things, the amended PSR policy (i) removes references to the Strength of Support Assessment ranking, citing the ranking is an “inefficient use” of supervisory resources; (ii) removes references to a FBO’s financial holding company status, since that status has limited ability to measure the health of a FBO; and (iii) adopts alternative methods for determining a FBO’s “eligibility for a positive net debit cap, the size of its net debit cap, and its eligibility to request a streamlined procedure to obtain maximum daylight overdraft capacity.” The Board adopted the changes substantially as proposed, following a notice and request for comment period at the end of 2017. The revisions are effective April 1, 2020.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Payments Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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  • FDIC proposes changes to record keeping requirements for deposit insurance determinations

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On March 29, the FDIC Board of Directors approved proposals to amend two rules, which would simplify the process for making deposit insurance determinations in the event a bank enters receivership. The first proposal amends Part 370 of the FDIC’s Rules and Regulations for “Recordkeeping for Timely Deposit Insurance Determination,” to address issues raised during implementation of the final rule adopted in November 2016 (covered by InfoBytes here). Among other things, the proposal provides an optional one-year extension of the rule’s compliance date of April 1, 2020. The second proposal amends Part 330, which would allow satisfaction of proof of co-ownership for deposits of a joint account to be insured separately from deposits in respective individual accounts, to be established by other information contained in deposit account records, and not solely by signed signature cards of each co-owner. Comments on each proposal will be due within 30 days of publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC Bank Compliance Deposit Insurance

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  • OCC announces interagency examination procedures for prepaid accounts rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On March 26, the OCC released Bulletin 2019-16, which announces that the FFIEC Task Force on Consumer Compliance developed new interagency examination procedures to reflect the amendments to Regulations Z and E under the CFPB’s Prepaid Accounts Rule (covered by InfoBytes here), which go into effect on April 1. Specifically, the examination procedures reflect (i) Regulation E requirements covering disclosures, limited liability and error resolution, periodic statement, and posting of account agreements; and (ii) Regulation Z requirements covering overdraft credit features with prepaid accounts.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Supervision FFIEC Examination Prepaid Rule CFPB

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