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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • CFPB holds small business lending symposium

    Federal Issues

    On November 6, the CFPB held a symposium covering small business lending and Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which amends ECOA to require financial institutions to compile, maintain, and submit to the Bureau certain information concerning credit applications by women-owned, minority-owned, and small businesses, and also directs the Bureau to promulgate regulations to implement these requirements. In her opening remarks, Director Kraninger, noted that the symposium was being convened to assist the Bureau with information gathering for upcoming rulemaking and emphasized that the Bureau is focused on a rulemaking that would not impede small business access to credit by imposing unnecessary costs on financial institutions. The symposium consisted of two panels, with the first covering policy issues related to small business lending, while the second discussed specific aspects of the requirements of Section 1071. Highlights of the panels include:

    • Panel #1. During the policy discussion, panelists focused on non-traditional lenders, namely fintech firms, that have entered the small business lending market, with most noting that these online alternative lenders have filled a necessary lending gap left by traditional banks and depository institutions. While concerns around bad actors in the online lending space were discussed, most panelists agreed that online financing may provide an opportunity for women and minority-owned businesses to avoid potential biases in underwriting, with one panelist noting that his company does not collect gender or race information in its online application.
    • Panel #2. Panelists focused their discussion on specific implementation concerns of Section 1071, including compliance costs, definitions of small business and financial institutions, data elements to be reported, and privacy concerns. Among other things, panelists noted that the definition of “small business” should be limited to businesses under $1 million in revenue, which is a figure included in other regulations such as ECOA and the CRA. Panelists disagreed on whether the Bureau should exercise its exemptive authority under Section 1071 for the definition of “financial institution.” While some panelists believe that the broad definition included in the Act is necessary to hold all the players in the market accountable, others argued that large financial institutions that receive an “outstanding” CRA rating should be excluded from the reporting requirements. As for data elements, most agreed that the Bureau should only require the statutorily mandated elements and not include any others in the rulemaking, while one panelist suggested that APR must be included in order to ensure that approval rates for minority-owned small businesses are the result of actual innovation and effective business models and not just the charging of high rates. Moreover, panelists reminded the Bureau to be cognizant of the small business lending reporting requirements of the CRA and HMDA and cautioned the Bureau to keep Section 1071 data requirements compatible.

    Federal Issues CFPB Small Business Lending Fintech Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Fair Lending ECOA Dodd-Frank

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  • FDIC solicits comments on innovation pilot programs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 6, 2019 the FDIC published a notice and request for public comment in the Federal Register seeking input on a new collection of information titled “Information Collection for Innovation Pilot Programs.” The FDIC notes that the innovation pilot program framework is a continuation of the agency’s efforts to engage and collaborate “with innovators in the financial, non-financial, and technology sectors to, among other things, identify, develop, and promote technology-driven innovations among community and other banks in a manner that ensures the safety and soundness of FDIC-supervised and insured institutions.” The framework is intended to provide a regulatory environment to facilitate the testing of innovative and novel approaches or applications involving a variety of banking products and services that may lead to cost reductions, increased access to financial services, and a decrease in operational, risk management, or compliance costs for insured depository institutions. While the FDIC plans on announcing additional details and the framework’s parameters at a later date, the agency stated that “innovators (banks and firms in partnership with banks) will be invited to voluntarily propose time limited pilot programs, which will be collected and considered by the FDIC on a case-by-case basis.”

    Comments on the proposal are due January 6, 2020.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC Pilot Program Fintech

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  • FTC offers guidance for social media influencer disclosures

    Federal Issues

    On November 5, the FTC released advertising disclosure guidance for online influencers, titled “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” which outlines the FTC’s rules for disclosure of sponsored endorsements and provides influencers with tips and guidance covering effective and ineffective disclosures. The guidance reminds influencers that (i) they should disclose any financial, employment, personnel, or family relationship with the brand; (ii) disclosures should be “hard to miss,” by being placed on pictures, stated in the videos, and repeated throughout livestreams; and (iii) language in disclosures should be simple and clear, and in the same language as the endorsement itself.

    For more information on the FTC’s activity covering testimonials and social media influencers, review the recent Buckley Insight, which summarizes several FTC enforcement actions involving online reviews and social media and provides key takeaways for companies considering online advertising and social media campaigns.

    Federal Issues FTC Marketing Advertisement UDAP Deceptive Enforcement Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • Agencies adjust threshold for Regulations Z and M

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 31, the CFPB and the Federal Reserve Board finalized the annual dollar threshold adjustments that govern the application of Regulation Z (Truth in Lending Act) and Regulation M (Consumer Leasing Act) to credit transactions, as required by the Dodd-Frank Act (published in the Federal Register here and here). Each year the thresholds 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 2020, based on the annual percentage increase in the CPI-W, is now $58,300 or less, except for private student loans and loans secured by real property, which are subject to TILA regardless of the amount.

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

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  • Agencies increase threshold for appraisal exemption under TILA for HPMLs

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 30, the CFPB, OCC, and the Federal Reserve Board published a final rule in the Federal Register, which increases the smaller loan exemption threshold for the special appraisal requirements for higher-priced mortgage loans (HPMLs) under TILA. 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. The exemption threshold for 2020 is $27,200, up from $26,700 in 2019. The final rule will take effect January 1, 2020.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB OCC Federal Reserve Federal Register Mortgages Appraisal TILA

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  • Agencies simplify capital calculation for community banks

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 29, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, and the OCC (agencies) issued a final rule to simplify capital rule compliance requirements and reduce the regulatory burden for community banks in accordance with the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. Among other things, the final rule allows qualifying community banks to adopt a simple community bank leverage ratio to measure capital adequacy, removing requirements for calculating and reporting risk-based capital ratios. Qualifying community banks must have less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets and meet additional criteria such as a leverage ratio greater than 9 percent. The agencies estimate that approximately 85 percent of community banks will qualify. The final rule also grants a community bank that temporarily fails to comply with the framework a two-quarter grace period to come back into full compliance, as long as its leverage ratio remains above 8 percent. According to the agencies, banking organizations will be permitted to use the community bank leverage ratio framework in their March 31, 2020 Call Report or Form FR Y-9C, as applicable. The final rule will take effect January 1, 2020.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve FDIC OCC Community Banks EGRRCPA

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  • Agencies finalize living will requirements

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 28, the Federal Reserve Board and the FDIC issued a joint press release to announce the adoption of a final rule amending resolution planning requirements (known as living wills) for large domestic and foreign firms with more than $100 billion in total consolidated assets, while tailoring requirements to the level of risk a firm poses to the financial system. The final rule—which is substantially similar to the April 2019 proposal (previous InfoBytes coverage here)—makes improvements to the November 2011 joint resolution plan rule, and is consistent with amendments to Dodd-Frank made by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. Among other things, the final rule tailors resolution planning requirements by using four “risk-based categories,” and extends the default resolution plan filing cycle. Global systemically important bank holding companies (GSIBs) will continue to be required to submit resolution plans on a two-year cycle; however, firms that do not pose the same systemic risk as GSIBs will only be required to submit their resolution plans on a three-year cycle. The agencies note in their release that both groups will alternate between submitting full and targeted resolution plans, and that “[f]oreign firms with relatively limited U.S. operations would be required to submit reduced resolution plans.” Additionally, firms with less than $250 billion in total consolidated assets that do not meet certain risk criteria will now be  exempt under the final rule. The agencies also emphasize a change from the proposed rule: only smaller and less complex firms may request changes to their full resolution plans, subject to approval by both agencies prior to taking effect.

    The final rule takes effect 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC Federal Reserve Living Wills Of Interest to Non-US Persons EGRRCPA

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  • Special Alert: HUD, DOJ sign MOU on mortgage False Claims Act violations

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 28, HUD and DOJ announced a long-awaited Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which provides prudential guidance concerning the application of the False Claims Act to matters involving alleged noncompliance with FHA guidelines. The announcement was made by HUD Secretary Dr. Benjamin S. Carson at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Annual Conference, and both agencies issued releases shortly after Carson’s comments. The intention, HUD noted, is to bring greater clarity to regulatory expectations within the FHA program and ease banks’ worries about facing future penalties for mortgage-lending errors.

    * * *

    Click here to read the full special alert.

    If you have any questions about the HUD/DOJ Memorandum of Understanding or other related issues, please visit our Mortgages or False Claims Act & FIRREA practice pages, or contact a Buckley attorney with whom you have worked in the past.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Special Alerts HUD DOJ False Claims Act / FIRREA FHA Mortgages

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  • OCC issues final rule clarifying OREO regulations

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 22, the OCC published a final rule to clarify and streamline its other real estate owned (OREO) regulations for supervised national banks and to update the regulatory framework for OREO activities at federal savings associations. The final rule—which is being adopted substantially as proposed in the OCC’s notice of proposed rulemaking issued in April (covered by InfoBytes here)—is the first significant revision to OREO regulations in more than 20 years. As noted in the final rule, pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the OCC now supervises federal savings associations. The framework adopted by the final rule is consistent with the Office of Thrift Supervision’s framework formerly in place, and “offers flexibility consistent with provisions in the Home Owners' Loan Act.” 

    Specifically, the final rule addresses (i) OREO holding periods; (ii) the methods for disposing of OREO; (iii) OREO appraisal requirements; and (iv) permissible OREO expenditures and notification requirements. The final rule also removes outdated capital rules for national banks and federal savings associations, which include provisions related to OREO, and makes conforming technical edits to other rules that reference those capital rules. The final rule takes effect December 1.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC OREO

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  • OCC suggests “administrative solutions” may be available for Madden fix

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 9, the OCC responded to a letter written by 26 Republican members of the House Financial Services Committee urging the agency to update its interpretation of the definition of “interest” under the National Bank Act (NBA) to limit the impact of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s 2015 decision in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC (covered by a Buckley Special Alert here). The representatives’ letter (covered by InfoBytes here) argued that Madden deviated from the longstanding valid-when-made doctrine—which provides that if a contract that is valid (not usurious) when it was made, it cannot be rendered usurious by later acts, including assignment—and has “caused significant uncertainty and disruption in many types of lending programs.” The representatives urged the OCC to prioritize a rulemaking to address the issue. In response, the OCC agreed with the letter’s concerns, and stated that “administrative solutions to mitigate the consequences of the Madden decision may be available.” The OCC noted that it has filed amicus briefs in the past, reiterating the view that Madden was wrongly decided, but did not elaborate any further on potential plans for a rulemaking to address the issue.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Federal Issues House Financial Services Committee U.S. House Madden Valid When Made Appellate

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