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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • FDIC releases comprehensive report on international, systemically important banks

    On April 10, the FDIC released a report on the FDIC’s plans and readiness to step in as a receiver for a financial company under Title II of the Dodd-Frank Act. The FDIC Chairman said this report was the “most detailed description to date of the FDIC’s preparedness to use its Title II resolution authority.”

    The report provided background on resolution-related authorities under Dodd-Frank, highlighted key measures that provided readiness of resolution under Title II authority, reviewed strategic decision-making for the use of such authority, and explained how the Commission expects to undertake a Title II resolution of a Global Systematically Important U.S. Bank (GSIB) using a Single Point of Entry (SPOE) resolution strategy. FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said that such a resolution “will be a challenging process under any circumstance, with a number of steps that need to be taken quickly and in close coordination with a range of stakeholders.”

    Under the SPOE resolution strategy, the FDIC would place only the holding company of the GSIB into receivership. The FDIC then would establish a bridge financial company under its control and would transfer the operating subsidiaries to the bridge institution. The bridge institution and its subsidiaries would remain operating while the FDIC performed its receivership duties, including the claims process. The final stage of GSIB receivership would be the implementation of a restructuring and wind-down plan that would aim to maintain value, address the causes of the failure, and transition operations. Chairman Gruenberg also noted that orderly resolution of a GSIB has not been executed before, “so there will be questions on whether it can be done.”

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues FDIC Liquidity

  • FDIC releases bank report on its past discriminatory lending practices

    On April 3, the FDIC made public for the first time its Community Reinvestment Act Performance Evaluation for a bank from September 2022. The bank focused on residential and commercial lending and had $1.15 billion in assets at the time of the review. During its supervision window from 2019 to 2022, the FDIC rated the bank’s CRA rating as “Needs to Improve,” which was a downgrade from its previous rating of “Satisfactory.” Although the FDIC found that the bank “demonstrated satisfactory performance” under the Lending and Community Development Tests, it was found to have violated ECOA and FHFA. Specifically, the FDIC found that the bank engaged in discriminatory lending through alleged redlining practices, the FDIC deemed. The FDIC noted that these violations occurred due to a lack of sufficient oversight and appropriate policies and procedures. 

    Bank Regulatory Discrimination Fair Lending Supervision ECOA FHFA CRA

  • Fed releases enforcement action against Wyoming-based bank holding company

    On April 4, the Federal Reserve released an enforcement action against a Wyoming-based bank holding company as part of a September 2023 inspection that found alleged deficiencies related to the “fintech business strategy, board oversight, capital, earnings, liquidity, risk management, and compliance.” The consent order with the bank holding company requires the holding company to: (i) serve as a source of strength to its bank subsidiary; (ii) submit a written plan to strengthen board oversight, including a staffing assessment and succession plan; (iii) submit a written plan to strengthen its risk management program, including adopting written policies and procedures to manage compliance and fraud risks; (iv) submit an enhanced liquidity risk management program, a capital plan, and a written business plan to improve earnings; and (v) ensure compliance with regulations governing affiliate transactions. The consent order additionally placed limits on the holding company’s fintech activities and required the holding company to submit a wind-down plan for fintech-related business. According to the consent order, following the September 2023 inspection, the holding company had voluntarily stopped pursuing its fintech business strategy and had been winding down all related activities.

    Bank Regulatory Federal Reserve Enforcement Wyoming Liquidity

  • FDIC’s Gruenberg speaks on FDIC’s plans for economic inclusion

    On April 4, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman, Martin J. Gruenberg, delivered a speech on the FDIC’s economic inclusion strategy. The speech highlighted the FDIC’s commitment to economic inclusion, efforts to understand the size and characteristics of the unbanked market, and past FDIC economic inclusion efforts.

    When Chairman Gruenberg highlighted previous FDIC inclusion efforts, he noted that the unbanked rate fell from 8.2 to 4.5 percent during the decade ending in 2021, with even steeper decreases for some minority populations. He also announced a new economic inclusion strategic plan to expand customers’ participation in the banking system and help households achieve greater financial security. The plan would intend to help customers build credit, including through small-dollar lending programs with affordable rates, and calls for specific steps to encourage bank lending and investments in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

    Bank Regulatory FDIC CRA

  • Fed’s Bowman speaks on bank liquidity a year after banking crises

    On April 3, Fed member Michelle Bowman delivered a speech on “Bank Liquidity, Regulation, and the Fed’s Role as Lender of Last Resort.” Her speech highlighted three points: first, she discussed how the Fed supported liquidity in the banking system; second, she discussed the broader framework that supported bank liquidity, including regulatory requirements, bank supervision, and deposit insurance; and third, she discussed the challenges the Fed faced in implementing liquidity tools. On the Fed’s role in banking system liquidity, Bowman mentioned how the banking system was stronger today than before the 2008 financial crisis due to having more capital and more liquidity, as well as new stress testing requirements. The Fed’s emergency lending authority also changed to be broad-based, as opposed to having designed it for individual companies, and now required approval by the Secretary of the Treasury. On challenges, Bowman highlighted how to reduce the stigma associated with discount window borrowing by mandating that banks “pre-position collateral” and “periodically borrow from the discount window.”  

    Bank Regulatory Liquidity Regulation Stress Test

  • OCC releases March CRA evaluations for 19 banks

    On April 1, the OCC released its Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) performance evaluations for last March. The OCC evaluated 19 national banks, federal savings associations, and insured federal branches of foreign banks with a rubric that included four possible ratings: Outstanding, Satisfactory, Needs to Improve, and Substantial Noncompliance. Of the 19 evaluations reported by the OCC, two Midwest banks received the lowest rating, which was “Needs to Improve.” Most entities were rated “Satisfactory,” and four entities were rated “Outstanding.” A full list of the bank evaluations is available here. In an OCC FAQ regarding the implementation of the CRA, the OCC detailed how it evaluated and rated financial institutions by reviewing both the institution itself (such as its capacity, constraints, business strategies, competitors, and peers) and the community the institution serves (such as its demographics, economic data, and its lending, investment, and service opportunities). 

    Bank Regulatory OCC Bank Supervision CRA Supervision FAQs

  • FDIC’s Consumer Compliance report outlines most frequently cited violations and observations

    On March 28, the FDIC released its March 2024 version of the Consumer Compliance Supervisory Highlights from the previous year, a report that enhanced transparency regarding the FDIC’s consumer compliance supervisory activities. The FDIC reported 16 formal enforcement actions and another 16 informal enforcement actions to address consumer compliance examination findings. The report highlighted how the FDIC conducted almost 900 consumer compliance examinations. The top five most frequently cited violations of moderate severity (levels two and three out of five of supervisory concern), which represented 74 percent of the total violations, included, in order from most frequently cited to least: TILA, and its implementing regulation, Regulation Z; the Flood Disaster Protection Act (FDPA) and its implementing regulation, Part 339; EFTA, and its implementing regulation, Regulation E; TISA, and its implementing regulation, Regulation DD; and Section 5 of the FTC Act. The report noted how Section 5 of the FTC Act dropped from the second most frequently cited to the fifth.

    The FDIC’s report outlined the most significant consumer compliance examination observations including the misuse of the FDIC’s logo, advertising of credit builder products, electronic fund transfer (EFT) error resolutions by third parties, mortgage broker relationships, and fair lending compliance. On the misuse of the FDIC’s logo, the FDIC found “a number of third parties” misrepresented the FDIC’s deposit insurance in violation of Section 18(a)(4) of the FDI Act. On substantiating claims in the advertising of credit builder products, the FDIC found that institutions collaborated with fintech companies on credit builder products and falsely advertised “these products would improve” one’s credit score, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. On EFTs handled by third parties, the FDIC identified an issue with a security program in validating customer transactions in violation of Regulation E of EFTA. On payments for mortgage brokerage services, the FDIC found RESPA Section 8 violations involving mortgage broker relationships. On oversight of third parties, the FDIC identified issues with an institution that partnered with third-party lenders to offer unsecured consumer loans, finding the institution violated Section 39 of the FDI Act. Last and on fair lending, the FDIC found that most of the DOJ’s referral matters pertinent to discrimination related to redlining, automobile financing, and credit underwriting.

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues FDIC Enforcement FTC Act TILA

  • FDIC issues February enforcement action against New York bank for lack of effective third-party oversight

    On March 29, the FDIC released its list of February 2024 enforcement actions, which included a consent order against a New York digital bank in which the FDIC alleged a lack of sufficient oversight of the bank’s third-party relationships. According to the consent order, the bank allegedly engaged in unsafe and unsound banking practices due to a lack of internal controls appropriate to the bank’s size and risk of its third-party relationships, and weaknesses in board oversight of asset growth and management, among other issues. The FDIC further alleged that the bank violated several laws including BSA, EFTA, and TISA.

    The FDIC ordered the bank’s board to increase its oversight of the bank’s management and the bank’s financial condition commensurate with the size of the bank and the risk of its third-party relationships. Further, the FDIC ordered the board to correct or eliminate any unsafe banking practices or violations of the law. On data and systems, the FDIC ordered the bank to conduct a data and systems review and develop a written action plan to address any deficiencies or weaknesses. Notably for the bank’s third-party relationships, the FDIC ordered that the bank’s procedures, data, and systems include “clear lines of authority” responsible for monitoring bank procedures and effective risk assessments. Finally, among other things, the FDIC ordered the bank to implement look-back reviews and have its board review the bank’s program to ensure compliance with consumer-related laws. 

    Bank Regulatory Enforcement FDIC Third-Party Bank Secrecy Act EFTA New York

  • OCC’s Hsu discusses bank fairness and effective compliance risk management

    On March 25, the Acting Comptroller of the Currency, Michael J. Hsu, released a transcript of a speech on fairness and effective compliance risk management in banking, delivered at a banking association meeting. The speech focused on how bank fairness can be used as a “guide and input to effective compliance risk management,” and how Hsu believed banks could develop more fairness in banking. Hsu noted that deploying more resources and adopting modern technologies will be only part of the challenge in improving a bank’s compliance risk programs; the other part of the challenge is “adapting and anticipating” where compliance risks could arise.

    While speaking on the challenges of bank consumer compliance, Hsu discussed rapid changes in product offerings, such as the growth of credit cards, BNPL products, and Earned Wage Access. Hsu discussed how the increase in the digitalization of banking has aligned with third-party arrangements, fraud, and cyber risks in finance. On fairness, Hsu discussed the increased prevalence of overdraft charges and how a “well developed sense of fairness” can guide banks in connection with such areas. Hsu stated that fairness is not unidimensional, and when a bank develops an internal sense of fairness, it should be aware of how multiple notions of fairness interact. For example, he noted that “disparate treatment and disparate impact” provide the foundations for fair lending laws, and to comply with fair lending laws, a bank must mitigate both disparities.

    Bank Regulatory OCC Fair Lending Compliance Risk Management

  • FDIC OIG confirms board oversight and liquidity issues led to a bank’s failure

    On March 25, the Office for the Inspector General (OIG) for the FDIC issued a report on a 2023 bank failure, finding that the bank’s failure netted a $14.8 million estimated loss to the Deposit Insurance Fund (“DIF”), but that the failure did not warrant a formal evaluation of the FDIC’s supervision of the failed bank in the form of an In-Depth Review. As defined by the FDIC, the DIF was created to ensure deposits, protect depositors, and resolve failed banks. Any DIF loss incurred under $50 million would require the OIG to review and determine if any unusual circumstances exist that may warrant an In-Depth Review; the OIG did not find any unusual circumstances here.

    In November 2023, the FDIC was appointed as a receiver of a bank after its closure by the Iowa Division of Banking. The OIG noted that the bank failed after “significant deterioration” of the bank’s loan portfolio and operating losses stressed its liquidity as a result of bank board issues and management lax lending practices, as well as the failure to properly administer large commercial trucking relationships.

    While conducting the bank review, the OIG considered four factors. First, the OIG considered the magnitude of the DIF loss in relation to the total assets of the failed bank. The OIG found the relative loss was 23 percent (noted as consistent in the last five years). Second, the OIG reviewed how effective the FDIC’s supervision addressed the issues. The OIG found the FDIC’s supervision “identified and effectively addressed” the issues that led to the bank’s failure. Third, the OIG considered any indicators of fraudulent activities that contributed to the DIF loss. The OIG found that while the examiners identified conflicts of interest in bank loans, they did not “significantly contribute” to the DIF loss. Last and fourth, the OIG reviewed any other relevant conditions contributing to the bank’s failure and found none. 

    Bank Regulatory OIG FDIC Iowa Liquidity


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