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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • Agencies finalize certain 2021 thresholds

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 18, the CFPB, OCC, and the Federal Reserve Board announced a final rule, which increases the TILA smaller loan exemption threshold for the special appraisal requirements for higher-priced mortgage loans (HPMLs). TILA requires creditors to obtain a written appraisal before making a HPML unless the loan amount is at or below the threshold exemption. Each year the threshold must be readjusted based on the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The exemption threshold for 2021 is $27,200, which remains at the same level it was in 2020.

    Additionally, the CFPB and the Federal Reserve Board finalized the annual dollar threshold adjustments that govern the application of TILA (Regulation Z) and Consumer Leasing Act (Regulation M) (available here and here), as required by the Dodd-Frank Act. The exemption threshold for 2021, based on the annual percentage increase in the CPI-W, remains unchanged at $58,300 or less, except for private education loans and loans secured by real or personal property used or expected to be used as the principal dwelling of a consumer, which are subject to TILA regardless of the amount.

    The final rules take effect on January 1, 2021.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB OCC Federal Reserve Regulation Z Regulation M TILA Consumer Leasing Act Mortgages

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  • OCC’s final rule amends licensing requirements

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 16, the OCC announced a final rule to update and clarify certain licensing policies and procedures for national banks and federal savings associations. (See also Bulletin 2020-100.) The final rule makes various changes to 12 CFR Part 5, “Rules, Policies, and Procedures for Corporate Activities,” to eliminate unnecessary requirements consistent with safe, sound, and fair operation of the federal banking system. The OCC originally proposed the changes in March (covered by InfoBytes here). The final rule’s changes will, among other things, (i) allow national and federal savings associations to follow the procedures applicable to state banks or state savings associations for certain business combinations; (ii) expand operating subsidiary notice and expedited review processes to include activities that are substantively the same as activities previously approved by the OCC; (iii) allow non-controlling investments and pass-through investments in non-OCC supervised entities and permit certain other investments without a filing; (iv) create procedures for citizenship and residency waivers for national bank directors; (v) redefine “troubled condition” in relation to director and senior executive officer changes “to specify that an enforcement action must require the national bank or savings association to improve its financial condition for it to be considered in ‘troubled condition’ solely as a result of the enforcement action”; and (vi) add chief risk officer to the list of positions for which a bank in troubled condition must provide notice when making a personnel change. The final rule will take effect January 1, 2021, with certain exceptions that becomes effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Licensing

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  • FHA proposes private flood insurance option

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 10, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) issued a proposed rule which would allow mortgagors the option to purchase private flood insurance on FHA-insured mortgages for properties located in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). Under the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, property owners located in an SFHA, and a community participating in the National Flood Insurance Program, are required to purchase flood insurance as a condition of receiving a mortgage backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the United States Department of Agriculture, or the FHA. The proposed rule would allow the purchase of private mortgage insurance for properties in SFHAs for the first time. Additionally, the proposed rule seeks comment on a compliance aid, which would “help mortgagees evaluate whether a flood insurance policy meets the definition of ‘private flood insurance.’” According to the FHA, between three and five percent of FHA borrowers could obtain a private flood insurance policy if the option becomes available.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FHA Flood Disaster Protection Act Flood Insurance

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  • OCC addresses CRA provisions and FAQs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 9, the OCC released Bulletin 2020-99, which discusses key provisions of the June 2020 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Rule and includes FAQs. As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, on May 20, the OCC announced the final rule to modernize the regulatory framework implementing the CRA. The final rule was technically effective on October 1, but the final rule provides for at least a 27-month transition period for compliance based on a bank’s size and business model. Large banks and wholesale and limited purpose banks will have until January 1, 2023 to comply, and small and intermediate banks that opt-in to the final rule’s performance standards will have until January 1, 2024. The Bulletin details the key provisions of the final rule, including the (i) new criteria for designating bank assessment areas, and (ii) varying performance standards by bank type. The Bulletin’s FAQs cover a range of topics including (i) the transition period; (ii) qualifying activities; (iii) activities outside bank assessment areas; (iv) examination administration; and (v) data collection and reporting.

    The Bulletin notes that the OCC is conducting outreach to provide banks with more information regarding how the agency will administer the transition to the final rule. Additionally, the Bulletin notes the OCC will issue guidance addressing how the July 2016 Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Community Reinvestment will apply to activities conducted under the final rule.

    Lastly, the Bulletin rescinds OCC Bulletin 2020-3, “Community Reinvestment Act: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” and OCC Bulletin 2020-4, “Community Reinvestment Act: Request for Public Input.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC CRA Bank Compliance

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  • OCC’s Director’s Toolkit updates corporate governance responsibilities

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 5, the OCC released updates to its Director’s Toolkit to assist directors of national banks and federal savings associations fulfill their corporate governance responsibilities. (See also OCC Bulletin 2020-97.) The revised Director’s Book: Role of Directors for National Banks and Federal Savings Associations (Director’s Book), as well as the new Director’s Reference Guide to Board Reports and Information (Director’s Reference Guide), replace and rescind previously issued OCC publications. In addition to including revisions from the “Corporate and Risk Governance” booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook (covered by InfoBytes here), the Director’s Book also (i) provides an overview of the agency; (ii) outlines responsibilities for directors as well as management’s role; (iii) “explains basic concepts and standards for safe and sound operation of banks”; and (iv) “delineates laws and regulations that apply to banks.” The Director’s Reference Guide focuses on key areas related to planning, operations, and risk management, and is structured to “provide examples of sources of information, measures, questions to consider, red flags, and references to directors.” The OCC notes that the “types, amount, and frequency of information that directors should receive to effectively perform their duties vary at each bank and continually evolve.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Corporate Governance OCC

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  • Fed report highlights banks’ Covid-19 responses

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 6, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) issued its Supervision and Regulation Report, which summarizes banking system conditions and the Fed’s supervisory and regulatory activities. The current report discusses the safety and soundness of the banking industry, especially with respect to economic and financial stresses resulting from Covid-19 containment measures. The report highlights, among other things, that Fed programs “have helped to preserve the flow of credit” and that banks have taken several actions to maintain financial and operational resiliency. These actions include providing access to substantial lines of credit for corporate borrowers and playing a significant role in supporting small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. In addition, the report notes that loan growth has grown slightly since the beginning of the year and that capital positions and liquidity conditions remain strong. However, the report cautions that while “economic indicators have shown marked improvement since the second quarter, a high degree of uncertainty persist.” The report also details the Fed’s current areas of supervisory focus and describes how banks have adapted to a largely remote working environment.

    The same day, the Fed also announced updates to the list of firms supervised by its Large Institution Supervision Coordinating Committee Program, which is responsible for supervising the largest and most complex firms. As a result, “certain foreign banks with U.S. operations that have substantially decreased in size and risk over the past decade will move to the Large and Foreign Banking Organization supervision portfolio, where they will be supervised with other banks of similar size and risk.” The Fed stresses that the “portfolio move will have no effect on the regulatory capital or liquidity requirements of any firm.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Supervision Regulation Of Interest to Non-US Persons Covid-19

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  • OCC exempts certain QFCs from express recognition requirements

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 2, the OCC issued Bulletin 2020-95, which announced a September 30 order granting an exemption from the express recognition requirements of 12 CFR 47.4 for certain categories of qualified financial contracts (QFC). According to the OCC, the order is intended to relieve the burdens faced by financial institutions and is consistent with the purpose of the express recognition requirements of 12 C.F.R. § 47.4 “in achieving uniform cross-border application of the U.S Special Resolution Regimes to contracts subject to such authorities.” Specifically, the order states that “non-U.S. non-linked contracts” that are entered into by foreign subsidiaries of covered banks—large, systemically important banks—are exempt from the express recognition requirements of 12 C.F.R. § 47.4.

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

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  • Agencies outline standards for strengthening operational resilience

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 30, the Federal Reserve Board, OCC, and FDIC (agencies) released an interagency paper describing standards and sound practices for increasing operational resilience. (See also the Fed’s release and FDIC FIL-103-2020). The paper, titled Sound Practices to Strengthen Operational Resilience, does not revise existing agency regulations or guidance, but rather provides a “comprehensive approach” for banks to strengthen and maintain operational resilience. According to the agencies, “[r]obust operational risk and business continuity management anchor the sound practices, which are informed by rigorous scenario analyses and consider third-party risks. Secure and resilient information systems underpin the approach to operational resilience, which is supported by thorough surveillance and reporting.” The paper also includes an appendix focused on sound practices for cyber risk management and cybersecurity preparedness. The appendix is aligned to the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework and is “augmented to emphasize governance and third-party risk management.” The standards set forth in the paper are intended for large, domestic banks with more than $250 billion in average total consolidated assets, or banks with more than $100 billion in total assets and other risk characteristics.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve OCC FDIC Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Operational Resilience

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  • CFPB finalizes certain debt collection rules

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 30, the CFPB issued (along with blog post from Director Kraninger) its final rule amending Regulation F, which implements the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), addressing debt collection communications and prohibitions on harassment or abuse, false or misleading representations, and unfair practices. The final rule does not include several significant provisions from the proposed rule, including those related to consumer disclosures.  The Bureau states a second “disclosure-focused” final rule will be released in December 2020. This final rule is expected to address the model debt validation notice and time-barred debt disclosures previously proposed by the Bureau. As previously covered by InfoBytes (here and here) the Bureau issued the proposed rule in May 2019 and a supplemental proposed rule in February 2020, addressing time-barred debt disclosures. The final rule is effective one year after publication in the Federal Register.

    Among other things, the final rule: (i) prohibits a debt collector from calling a consumer about a particular debt more than seven times within seven consecutive days or within seven consecutive days of having had a telephone conversation; (ii) allows consumers to set preferences with debt collectors on certain communications, including communications with third parties and allowing consumers a reasonable way to opt-out of electronic communications; and (iii) clarifies that the FDCPA’s prohibition on harassing, oppressive, or abusive conduct applies to email and text messages. Additionally, the final rule also contains the procedures for state application for exemption from the provisions of the FDCPA.

    More information from Buckley on the details of the final rule will soon be available.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB FDCPA Regulation F Debt Collection

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  • Agencies propose lowering threshold for certain fund transfers and transmittals of funds under Bank Secrecy Act

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 23, the Federal Reserve Board and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced a proposed rule that would, among other things, amend the Recordkeeping Rule and the Travel Rule under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) by reducing the data collection threshold from $3,000 to $250 for certain fund transfers that begin or end outside of the U.S. In addition, the proposed rule would set the threshold at $250 for financial institutions “to transmit to other financial institutions in the payment chain information on fund transfers and transmittals of funds that begin or end outside of the [U.S.]” The proposed rule’s $250 threshold for data collection would also apply to digital currency transactions, both for international transfers and those within the U.S. The agencies also propose to clarify the meaning of “money” as used in certain defined terms to ensure the rules apply to domestic and cross-border transactions involving convertible virtual currencies. By proposing to lower the current threshold, the agencies “specifically considered Suspicious Activity Reports filed by money transmitters, which indicate that a substantial volume of potentially illicit funds transfers and transmittals of funds occur below the $3,000 threshold.” The agencies also note that the threshold for domestic transactions would remain unchanged at $3,000. Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve FinCEN Bank Secrecy Act Of Interest to Non-US Persons Fund Transfers

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