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On March 5, the Federal Reserve Board issued clarifying guidance regarding definitions for minority depository institutions (MDIs), expanding the definition of an MDI to include women-owned financial institutions. In addition to statutory provisions—which define the term “minority” to mean any African American, Native American, Hispanic American, or Asian American, and “states that an MDI is any depository institution where a majority of the voting stock is owned by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals”—the Federal Reserve System’s definition of an MDI will now recognize women’s depository institutions, and will provide these depository institutions with the same resources as other MDIs. According to the Board, the definition of a “women’s depository institution” is consistent with how the term is defined under the Community Reinvestment Act. Additionally, the Board highlighted resources available for MDIs through its Partnership for Progress program, which helps MDIs operate in a safe and sound manner and meet supervisory standards.
On March 4, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a new initiative to provide access to capital for communities traditionally excluded from the financial system that have significantly struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP), established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, will provide up to $9 billion in capital directly to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and minority depository institutions (MDIs) to provide, among other things, “loans, grants, and forbearance for small and minority businesses and consumers in low income communities.” The ECIP will set aside $2 billion for CDFIs and MDIs with less than $500 million in assets, as well as $2 billion for CDFIs and MDIs with less than $2 billion in assets. Treasury notes that the program is intended to incentivize impactful lending, and states it is currently “developing additional ‘deep impact’ metrics to further incentivize targeted investments by participants in those communities most in need of capital.” Institutions seeking to participate in the ECIP can access application instructions and materials along with an application portal here.
To support the implementation of the ECIP, the FDIC, Federal Reserve Board, and the OCC issued an interim final rule to “revis[e] their capital rules to provide that Treasury’s investments under the program qualify as regulatory capital of insured depository institutions and holding companies.” The interim final rule is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Comments will be accepted for 60 days following publication.
On March 4, the OCC issued Bulletin 2021-11 announcing the revision of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook. The booklet rescinds the 2011 version and provides background information and examination procedures on consumer protections afforded servicemembers under the SCRA. Among other things, the revised booklet (i) summarizes SCRA protections and requirements; (ii) discusses compliance, operational, strategic, and reputation risks associated with a bank’s SCRA activities; (iii) discusses risk management practices for effective SCRA compliance; and (iv) includes procedures for examining banks’ compliance with the SCRA.
On March 2, the FDIC announced updates to its Consumer Compliance Examination Manual (CEM). The CEM includes supervisory policies and examination procedures for FDIC examination staff evaluating financial institutions’ compliance with federal consumer protection laws and regulations. The recent updates include, among other things, changes to the sections and questions related to (i) fair lending laws and regulations and the Fair Lending Scope and Conclusions Memorandum; (ii) TILA and the Consumer Leasing Act; and (iii) the asset-based definitions for small, intermediate, and large institutions for the Community Reinvestment Act.
On March 3, the CFPB released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to delay the mandatory compliance date of the General Qualified Mortgage (QM) Final Rule from July 1, 2021 to October 1, 2022. As previously covered by InfoBytes, last December the Bureau issued the General QM Final Rule to amend Regulation Z and revise the definition of a “General QM” by eliminating the General QM loan definition’s 43 percent debt-to-income ratio (DTI) limit and replacing it with bright-line price-based thresholds. The new General QM definition became effective on March 1, 2021. The General QM Final Rule also eliminates QM status resulting solely from loans meeting qualifications for sale to Fannie or Freddie Mac (GSEs), known as the “GSE Patch.” In issuing the NPRM, the Bureau expressed concerns “that the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mortgage market may continue for longer than anticipated at the time the Bureau issued the General QM Final Rule, and so could warrant additional flexibility in the QM market to ensure creditors are able to accommodate struggling consumers.” Extending the compliance date will allow lenders to offer QM loans based on either the old or new QM definitions, including the GSE Patch (unless the GSEs exit conservatorship), until October 1, 2022. Comments on the NPRM must be received by April 5.
The NPRM follows a statement issued last month (covered by InfoBytes here), in which the Bureau said it is considering whether to revisit final rules issued last year that took effect March 1 concerning the definition of a Qualified Mortgage and the establishment of a “Seasoned QM” category of loans. In the NPRM, the Bureau stated “this rulemaking does not reconsider the merits of the price-based approach adopted in the General QM Final Rule. . . .Rather, this proposal addresses the narrower question of whether it would be appropriate in light of the continuing disruptive effects of the pandemic to help facilitate greater creditor flexibility and expanded availability of responsible, affordable credit options for some struggling consumers” by keeping both the old and new rule until October 1, 2022.
On February 25, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) concluded another plenary meeting, in which it “advanced its work on several important issues, including finalizing a non-public report on terrorist financing and agreeing to seek public comment on updated guidance documents on virtual assets and proliferation finance.” Among other things, FAFT finalized three non-public reports outlining best practices for investigating and prosecuting terrorist financing for FATF member states, as well as an internal ISIS/Al Qaeda financing update and internal guidance designed “to assist investigative authorities trace financial flows between illicit arms traffickers and terrorists.” FATF also approved new guidance (to be published early March) intended to clarify and improve the adoption of risk-based supervision, which outlines ways supervisors should apply risk-based approaches to their activities, highlights common implementation challenges to risk-based supervision, and provides examples of effective strategies. Additionally, FAFT noted it has agreed to seek public consultation on amendments to its 2019 guidance concerning anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism obligations concerning virtual assets and virtual asset service providers, and expects to release final updated guidance this summer. FATF also stated it intends to issue new guidance this summer on ways countries and the private sector can understand and mitigate proliferation financing threats, vulnerabilities, and risks.
On February 25, the FFIEC published updated versions of four sections of the Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) Examination Manual (Manual), which provides examiners with instructions for assessing a bank’s or credit union’s BSA/AML compliance program and compliance with BSA regulatory requirements. The revisions can be identified by a 2021 date on the FFIEC BSA/AML InfoBase and include the following updated sections: Assessing Compliance with Bank Secrecy Act Regulatory Requirements, Customer Identification Program, Currency Transaction Reporting, and Transactions of Exempt Persons. The FFIEC notes that the “updates should not be interpreted as new instructions or as a new or increased focus on certain areas,” but are intended to “offer further transparency into the examination process and support risk-focused examination work.” In addition, the Manual itself does not establish requirements for financial institutions as these requirements are found in applicable statutes and regulations. (See also FDIC FIL-12-2021 and OCC Bulletin 2021-10.)
On February 23, the FDIC released nine technical assistance videos on fair lending compliance. The videos provide FDIC-supervised institutions with a high-level overview on ways to assess and mitigate fair lending risk and understand how examiners evaluate fair lending compliance. Information provided in the videos includes: (i) an overview of federal fair lending laws and regulations for bank directors and senior managers; (ii) ways a bank’s compliance management system can mitigate fair lending risk; (iii) a discussion on how FDIC examiners evaluate fair lending risk during consumer compliance examinations; and (iv) commentary on the following specific fair lending risk factors, one each for overt discrimination, underwriting, pricing, steering, redlining, and marketing.
On February 18, the FDIC, Federal Reserve Board, and the OCC published a joint notice and request for comments on changes to three versions of the Call Report—FFIEC 031, FFIEC 041, and FFIEC 051. The reporting changes, first proposed by the agencies last year, will provide relief to financial institutions with under $10 billion in total assets as of December 31, 2019, by allowing them “to use the lesser of the total consolidated assets reported in its Call Report as of December 31, 2019, or June 30, 2020, when determining whether the institution has crossed certain total asset thresholds to report additional data items in its Call Reports for report dates in calendar year 2021.” The agencies also outline specific thresholds that limit certain eligibility for streamlined Call Reports or that require the reporting of certain additional data items. This relief will only be allowed for calendar year 2021. The agencies will also allow financial institutions that temporarily exceed the $10 billion total asset threshold to use the community bank leverage ratio framework in Call Report Schedule RC R from December 31, 2020, through December 31, 2021, provided the institution meets the other qualifying criteria for this framework. Comments on the proposed changes are due March 22.
On February 23, the CFPB issued a statement noting it is considering whether to revisit final rules issued last year regarding the definition of a Qualified Mortgage and the establishment of a “Seasoned QM” category of loans. As previously covered by InfoBytes, last December the Bureau issued the General QM Final Rule to amend Regulation Z and revise the definition of a “General QM” by eliminating the General QM loan definition’s 43 percent debt-to-income ratio (DTI) limit and replacing it with bright-line price-based thresholds. The General QM Final Rule also eliminates QM status resulting solely from loans meeting qualifications for sale to Fannie or Freddie Mac (GSEs), known as the “GSE Patch.” The Bureau issued a second final rule, the Seasoned QM Final Rule, to create a new category of safe-harbor QMs applicable to first-lien, fixed-rate mortgages that are held in portfolio by the originating creditor or first purchaser for a 36-month period while meeting certain performance requirements, and comply with general QM restrictions on product features and points and fees. The effective date for both final rules is March 1. The General QM Final Rule also has a mandatory compliance date of July 1.
In the statement, the Bureau noted that it is “considering whether to initiate a rulemaking to revisit the Seasoned QM Final Rule,” including whether to revoke or amend the Seasoned QM Final Rule and how that would affect covered transactions for which applications were received after the March 1 effective date. In addition, the Bureau stated that it expects to issue a rule to delay the July 1, 2021 mandatory compliance date of the General QM final rule. Should a proposed rule be finalized, creditors would then “be able to use either the current General QM loan definition or the revised General QM loan definition for applications received during the period from March 1, 2021, until the delayed mandatory compliance date,” the Bureau said. Additionally, the GSE patch would also remain in effect until the new mandatory compliance date, or until the GSEs cease to operate under conservatorship prior to that date.
The same day, the Bureau updated its small entity compliance guide and other compliance aids for the Ability-to-Repay and Qualified Mortgage Rule. The updates reflect amendments set forth in the GSE Patch Extension Final Rule, the General QM Final Rule, and the Seasoned QM Final Rule.
- Jonice Gray Tucker to moderate “Pandemic relief response and lasting impacts on access, credit, banking, and equality” at the American Bar Association Business Law Section Spring Meeting
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "Post-pandemic CFPB exam preparation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Spring Conference & Expo
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Making fair lending work for you" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Spring Conference & Expo
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Reading the tea leaves of President Biden’s initial financial appointees" at LendIt Fintech
- APPROVED Webcast: Staying in the know with Buckley regtech solutions
- Moorari K. Shah to discuss “CA, NY, federal licensing and disclosure” at the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association Legal Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Compliance under Biden" at the WSJ Risk & Compliance Forum
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk to discuss UDAAP at an American Bar Association webinar
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "What to expect: The new administration and regulatory changes" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “The future of fair lending” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Steven R. vonBerg to discuss "LO comp challenges" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss "Major litigation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss “The False Claims Act today” at the Federal Bar Association Qui Tam Section Roundtable