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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • OCC to focus supervisory efforts on non-SOFR rates after LIBOR ends

    Federal Issues

    On October 26, acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu warned banks not to be complacent when transitioning away from LIBOR. Hsu reiterated that federal regulators will not allow new contracts that use LIBOR as a reference rate after December 31. Hsu stressed that banks must look outside of activities that directly involve LIBOR exposure, such as lending, derivatives activities, and market-making capacities, to screen for LIBOR exposure in other contexts, such as LIBOR-based loan participation interests or as part of an instrument for a bank’s investment or liquidity portfolio paying LIBOR-based income or otherwise reflecting LIBOR exposures. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the CFPB, Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, NCUA, and OCC recently released a joint statement providing supervisory considerations for institutions when choosing an alternative reference rate. Hsu addressed the use of these alternative reference rates and reminded banks that they are expected to be able to demonstrate that their replacement rate is robust and appropriately tailored to their risk profile. He further commented that because the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) “provides a robust rate suitable for use in most products, with underlying transaction volumes that are unmatched by other alternatives,” the OCC will initially focus its supervisory efforts on non-SOFR rates.

    Federal Issues OCC LIBOR Bank Regulatory Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Federal Reserve FDIC NCUA SOFR

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  • OCC releases FAQs on proposal to rescind 2020 CRA rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 26, the OCC issued responses to frequently asked questions on its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to rescind its 2020 Community Reinvestment Act Rule (2020 Rule) and to replace it with rules based largely on those adopted jointly by the federal banking agencies in 1995, as amended. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the OCC noted it intends to align the agency’s CRA rules with current Federal Reserve Board and FDIC rules, “thereby facilitat[ing] the on-going interagency work to modernize the CRA regulatory framework and create consistency for all insured depository institutions.” The FAQs discuss the rulemaking process and provide a general timeline on the transition from the 2020 Rule. The FAQs also answer questions concerning: (i) CRA bank-type determinations; (ii) qualifying activity determinations; (iii) the qualifying activity confirmation request system; (iv) the transition period for tracking activities that qualify under the 2020 Rule but would not qualify should the 1995 rules be reinstated; (v) examination administration; (vii) assessment areas; (vii) targeted geographic areas; (viii) strategic plans; and (ix) submitting public comments.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Federal Reserve FDIC CRA Bank Regulatory

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  • OCC consent order addresses risk management at mortgage servicer

    Federal Issues

    On October 26, the OCC issued a consent order against a leading subservicer of mortgage loans for allegedly maintaining inadequate risk management controls related to its servicing and default servicing activities. According to the OCC, the bank’s “internal controls and risk management practices do not support the current risk profile and size of the [b]ank’s mortgage sub-servicing portfolio, which is an unsafe or unsound practice.” The OCC also asserted that the bank had previously been informed about the alleged risk management deficiencies and did not take timely corrective action. Under the terms of the consent order, the bank is required, among other things, to take comprehensive corrective measures, including developing and implementing internal controls that are “commensurate with the types and complexity of risks associated with all transactions the [b]ank executes.” The bank is also required to implement an effective default operations program for its loss mitigation, foreclosure, and claims activities to ensure compliance with applicable state and federal laws and GSE requirements. The order also requires the bank to receive a non-objection from OCC prior to onboarding new clients or before paying dividends to shareholders while the order is in effect. The order does not indicate any specific violations of consumer protection laws and does not contain a civil money penalty. The bank did not admit or deny the allegations.

    Federal Issues OCC Enforcement Bank Regulatory Risk Management Mortgages Mortgage Servicing

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  • FDIC finalizes rule amending real estate lending

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 22, the FDIC adopted a final rule amending the Interagency Guidelines for Real Estate Lending Policies to include consideration of the capital framework established in the community bank leverage ratio (CBLR) rule into the method of calculating the ratio of loans in excess of the supervisory loan-to-value limits (LTV limits), which applies to all FDIC-supervised financial institutions. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the FDIC issued the proposed rule to amend the Interagency Guidelines for Real Estate Lending Policies in June by proposing to establish supervisory LTV criteria for certain real estate lending transaction types and allowing exceptions to the supervisory LTV limits. Among other things, the final rule: (i) “revises the Appendix so that all FDIC-supervised institutions calculate the ratio of loans in excess of the supervisory LTV limits using tier 1 capital plus the appropriate allowance for credit losses in the denominator, regardless of an institution’s CBLR election status”; and (ii) “provides a consistent approach for calculating the ratio of loans in excess of the supervisory LTV limits at all FDIC-supervised institutions,” and “would approximate the historical methodology . . . for calculating the ratio of loans in excess of the supervisory LTV limits.” The final rule is effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC Federal Register LTV Ratio Community Banks Real Estate Bank Regulatory

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  • Agencies seek to update uniform rules for administrative enforcement proceedings

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    Recently, the FDIC, OCC, Federal Reserve Board, and NCUA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to modernize the agencies’ Uniform Rules of Practice and Procedure (Uniform Rules) applicable to formal administrative enforcement proceedings. The amendments would recognize the use of electronic communications and technology in all aspects of administrative hearings to increase the efficiency and fairness of administrative adjudications. Among other things, the NPRM would (i) allow electronic signatures and filings; (ii) permit depositions to be held by remote means; (iii) modernize language and definitions; and (iv) extend certain filing time limits. Amended provisions also address the authority of administrative law judges, adjudicatory proceedings, good faith certifications, ex parte communications, and expenses. The agencies also propose to modify their specific rules of administrative practice and procedure (known as the Local Rules) applicable to enforcement actions brought by each agency. FDIC staff released a memo recommending its board approve and authorize the NPRM, pointing out that the rules have not been substantively updated in 25 years and do not account for technological advances.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC OCC Federal Reserve NCUA Enforcement Bank Regulatory

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  • Fed announces new rules for staff securities trading

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 21, the Federal Reserve Board announced new rules to prohibit the purchase of individual securities, restrict active trading, and increase the timeliness of reporting and public disclosure. According to the announcement, the new rules apply to the Reserve Bank and Board policymakers and senior staff. Among other things, the rules require that Fed policymakers and senior staff provide 45 days’ advance notice and obtain approval before purchasing or selling approved securities. In addition, they will be required to hold investments for a minimum of one year.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Securities Bank Regulatory

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  • FSOC directs regulators to take measures to mitigate climate-related financial risks

    Federal Issues

    On October 21, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) released a new report in response to President Biden’s May executive order, which directed financial regulators to take steps to mitigate climate-related risk related to the financial system. The Report on Climate-Related Financial Risk (see also FSOC’s fact sheet) identified more than 30 specific recommendations for member agencies, including that members should: (i) expand capacity and efforts “to define, identify, measure, monitor, assess, and report on climate-related financial risks and their effects on financial stability,” including through “investments in staffing, training, expertise, data, analytic and modeling methodologies, and monitoring”; (ii) promptly conduct an internal inventory of currently available data and develop plans for acquiring necessary additional data to fill climate-related data and methodological gaps; (iii) review existing public disclosure requirements and consider updating public reporting requirements in a way that would build on the work of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures; and (iv) continue to assess and mitigate climate-related risks to financial stability, including through scenario analysis, and evaluate whether revised or new regulations or guidance is necessary to clarify expectations for regulated or supervised institutions. The report also called for enhanced coordination across member agencies, and said a Climate-related Financial Risk Committee will be formed to “identify priority areas for assessing and mitigating climate-related risks to the financial system and serve as a coordinating body to share information, facilitate the development of common approaches and standards, and foster communication across FSOC members.” A Climate-related Financial Risk Advisory Committee will also be formed to help gather information and analysis from stakeholders on climate-related financial risks. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that FSOC has a responsibility under the Dodd-Frank Act “to respond to emerging threats to the stability of the United States financial system” and to “ensure the resilience of the financial system to the future impacts of climate change.”

    Federal Issues FSOC Climate-Related Financial Risks Department of Treasury SEC Federal Reserve OCC FHFA Biden Dodd-Frank Bank Regulatory

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  • OCC updates Payment Systems booklet

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 21, the OCC issued Bulletin 2021-49 announcing the revision of the Payment Systems booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook. The booklet rescinds the Payment Systems and Funds Transfer Activities booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook (March 1990); the Office of Thrift Supervision Examination Handbook section 580, the Payments Systems Risk (January 1994); banking Circular 235, International Payments Systems Risks (May 10, 1989); and OCC Bulletin 1996-48, Stored Value Card Systems: Information for Bankers and Examiners (September 3, 1996). Among other things, the revised booklet: (i) provides information on payment systems, types of payments, risks associated with payment systems, and associated risk management practices; (ii) highlights the requirements of 12 CFR 7.1026 on payment systems memberships; and (iii) includes expanded examination procedures and “supplemental procedures for deeper review of certain payment activities.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Comptroller's Handbook Bank Regulatory Payments Payment Systems

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  • OCC issues semi-annual Interest Rate Risk Statistics Report

    Federal Issues

    On October 20, the OCC published the fall 2021 edition of the Interest Rate Risk Statistics Report. The report presents interest rate risk data gathered during examinations of OCC-supervised midsize and community banks and federal savings associations with reported data by asset size, charter type, and minority depository institutions. The OCC’s supervisory process for the fall 2021 report reviewed banks’ reported data from September 30, 2019 to June 30, 2021, including exposures, risk limits, and non-maturity deposit assumptions. The OCC notes that the statistics presented within the report “are for informational purposes only and do not represent OCC-suggested limits or exposures.”

    Federal Issues OCC Interest Rate Risk Management Bank Regulatory

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  • Fed governor discusses need for new banks

    Federal Issues

    On October 22, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle W. Bowman spoke at the 2021 Community Bankers Symposium: Banking on the Future regarding why there have been so few de novo bank formations over the last decade and what can be done to encourage more de novo banks. Bowman discussed “the importance of community banks,” noting that they “provide critical financial services to their communities and to many customers who might have limited geographic access to banking services.” She pointed out that community banking has been declining in both rural and urban communities due in part to an increased need to hire experienced staff, which is challenging to attract and retain. To encourage more de novo banks, Bowman stated it is “crucial to provide a balanced, transparent, and effective regulatory framework that promotes a vibrant community bank sector.” She also emphasized that policymakers should “appropriately refine the regulatory and supervisory framework to minimize unnecessary compliance costs for smaller banks and address impediments to bank formations.”

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve Community Banks Bank Regulatory

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