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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • Basel Committee publishes report on recalibration of shocks for interest rate risk

    On December 12, the Basel Committee released a report on the “Recalibration of shocks for interest rate risk in the banking book,” as an adjustment to the Committee’s 2016 commitment to recalibrate the interest rate shock parameters.

    The Committee began its calibration of interest rate shocks before the March 2023 banking issues transpired and is now following up on fundamental shortcomings in traditional risk management of banks, including interest rate risks. The report is brief and focuses on specified topics: for the first topic, the current calibration and methodology outlining current interest rate shocks (measured in basis points), the calculation of average interest rates from 2000 to 2015, the application of three tiers for shock parameters, and problems with the methodology; for the second topic, a proposal of a new methodology and calibration using a formula with outlined steps for countries to adopt, a comparison between the existing and new methodology, and a recalibration table; and, the third and final topic emphasizes additional issues and next steps, including caps, non-parallel shocks, and impact assessment.

    The Committee noted in its press release that these changes “are needed to address problems with how the current methodology captures interest rate changes during periods when interest rates are close to zero.” Comments can be submitted to the Committee until March 28, 2024.

    Bank Regulatory Basel Committee Interest Rate Risk Management

  • FDIC Director McKernan suggests phasing ‘underdeveloped’ parts of Basel III

    On December 12, a member of the FDIC Board of Directors, Jonathan McKernan, expressed concerns about its Endgame proposal’s reliance on Basel Committee decisions. In his speech at a conference on trading book capital, he highlighted the lack of explanation behind design choices, leaving banking regulators unable to justify or comprehend certain reform aspects. The board member added that the absence of rationale hindered public feedback and raised doubts about the reform’s legitimacy.

    McKernan suggested an approach to defer less developed areas of the reforms while implementing uncontested aspects—acknowledging the proposal’s goal to address weaknesses in the trading book framework and citing concerns about specific design decisions. McKernan notes certain design decisions like the profit-and-loss attribution test and non-modellable risk factors. McKernan explained that the PLA attribution test assesses the alignment between a bank’s risk management and front office models. McKernan said that for both designs, there is very little public information on the Basel Committee’s threshold formulation and that they are based on simulated data, which is viewed as a preliminary estimate still under development. Finally, McKernan supported enhancing the regulatory capital framework but stressed the need to validate the rationale behind key design decisions in the Basel reforms. 

    Bank Regulatory FDIC Basel Bank Supervision Basel Committee

  • Request for GAO examination of agencies’ role in Basel III endgame proposal

    Federal Issues

    The Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry (R-NC), and Representative Andy Barr (R-KY), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Monetary Policy, sent a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting the GAO to “examine the role U.S. federal banking agencies played in work at the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision to develop the recent Basel III Endgame proposal, which calls for massive increases in capital requirements for already well-capitalized U.S. financial institutions.”

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, the federal banking agencies issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would substantially revise the capital requirements of large U.S. banking organizations. According to the letter, Congress has very little insight into the basis of such policy changes that “would fundamentally change the policy of the U.S. banking system.”

    The letter requests the GAO to evaluate each federal banking agency’s participation in the development of Basel III Endgame. GAO’s evaluation should include: (i) a summary of each material proposal submitted by a federal banking agency to the Basel Committee; and (ii) a summary of concerns raised by a federal banking agency with respect to a consultative document or other proposal considered by the Basel Committee.

    Further, the letter requests the GAO prioritize each proposal or concern from the federal banking agencies related to:

    • Any proposals or concerns from the federal banking agencies that did not receive a fulsome response by the Basel Committee.
    • Any evidence or rationale supporting the requirement that a “corporate entity (or parent) must have securities outstanding on a recognized securities exchange for an exposure to that entity (or parent) to be eligible for the reduced risk weight for investment-grade corporate exposures;”
    • The absence of a tailored approach to “high-fee revenue banks under the Basel III Endgame business-indicator approach to operational risk capital”;
    • The calibration of the “scaling factor, multiplier, dampener, and other coefficients for that business-indicator approach”; and
    • The calibration of the “correlation factors and the profit-and-loss attribution test thresholds for the models-based measure of market risk capital.”

    Federal Issues GAO Congress Capital Requirements FDIC OCC Compliance Basel Committee

  • Agencies extend comment period on proposed rules to strengthen large bank capital requirements

    On October 20, the Fed issued a joint press release with the FDIC and the OCC announcing the extension of the comment period on proposed rules to expand large bank capital requirements. Earlier this year, the agencies announced the proposed rule which would implement the final components of the Basel III Agreement. The components would revise capital requirements for large banking organizations, among other things. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) Adding an additional six weeks (from the original 120-day comment period set to expire on November 30), the new comment period deadline is by January 16, 2024.

    Bank Regulatory Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues Federal Reserve FDIC OCC Capital Requirements Compliance Basel Committee

  • Warren urges Fed to finalize capital requirements for large banks

    Federal Issues

    On August 29, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to the Fed regarding its recent notice of proposed rulemaking, urging them to “finalize the rules as quickly as possible.” In July, the Fed announced amendments to the regulatory capital requirements for large banking organizations that would implement the final components of the Basel III agreement (previously covered by InfoBytes here). Warren noted that she is concerned about the Fed’s intent to seek potential modifications as it could result in weakening the proposed rule. Warren also warned that big bank lobbyists has been “engaging in a full-court press to fend off higher capital requirements” before the release of the proposed rule, and that big banks lobbying expenditures were up 20 percent compared to the same period of time in the previous year, indicating a “clear effort to fend off stronger rules” following recent bank failures. The senator finally noted that the capital bank requirements are a threat to bank’s “massive payouts for executives and shareholders.”

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve U.S. Senate Basel Committee Compliance Capital Requirements

  • Agencies propose new capital requirements for biggest banks

    On July 27, the FDIC’s Board of Directors unveiled proposed interagency amendments to the regulatory capital requirements for the largest and most complex banks in the United States. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), issued jointly by the FDIC, OCC, and the Federal Reserve Board (and passed by an FDIC Board vote of 3-2 and a Fed vote of 4-2), would revise capital requirements for large banking organizations with at least $100 billion in assets, as well as certain banking organizations with significant trading activity. (See also FDIC fact sheet here.) The proposed changes would implement the final components of the Basel III agreement—recent changes made to international capital standards issued by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision—as well as modifications made in response to recent bank failures in March, the agencies said.

    Specifically, the NPRM would implement standardized approaches for market risk and credit valuation adjustment risk by amending the way banks calculate their risk-weighted assets. According to FDIC FIL-38-2023, the new “expanded risk-based approach” would incorporate a standardized approach for credit risk and operational risk, a revised internal models-based approach, a new standardized measure for market risk, and a new revised approach for credit valuation adjustment. Banks subject to Category III and IV standards would also be required “to calculate their regulatory capital in the same manner as banking organizations subject to Category I and II standards, including the treatment of accumulated other comprehensive income, capital deductions, and rules for minority interest.” Additionally, the supplementary leverage ratio and the countercyclical capital buffer would be applied to banks subject to Category IV standards.

    The agencies said the proposed modifications are intended to:

    • Better reflect banks’ underlying risks;
    • Increase transparency and consistency by revising the capital framework in four main areas: credit, market, operational, and credit valuation adjustment risk;
    • Strengthen the banking system, by applying consistent capital requirements across large banks by requiring institutions to (i) include unrealized gains and losses from certain securities in capital ratios; (ii) comply with the supplementary leverage ratio requirement; and (iii) comply with the countercyclical capital buffer, if activated.

    The agencies predict that these changes will “result in an aggregate 16 percent increase in common equity tier 1 capital requirements for affected bank holding companies, with the increase principally affecting the largest and most complex banks.” The impact would vary by bank based on activities and risk profiles, the agencies stated, noting that most banks currently have enough capital to meet the proposed requirements. The NPRM would not amend capital requirements for smaller, less complex banks or for community banks. The agencies propose a three-year phased-in transition process beginning July 1, 2025, to provide banks sufficient time to accommodate the changes and minimize potentially adverse impacts. The changes would be fully phased in on July 1, 2028.

    Separately, the Fed also issued an NPRM on a proposal that would modify certain provisions relating to the calculation of the capital surcharge for the largest and most complex banks in order to “better align the surcharge to each bank’s systemic risk profile. . .by measuring a bank’s systemic importance averaged over the entire year, instead of only at the year-end value.”

    Comments on both NPRMs are due November 30.

    FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg stressed that “[e]nhanced resilience of the banking sector supports more stable lending through the economic cycle and diminishes the likelihood of financial crises and their associated costs.” Also voting in favor of the NPRM was CFPB Chairman and FDIC Board Member Rohit Chopra who expressed interest in feedback from the public on ways to simplify the methodologies used to calculate the requirements. Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael also voted in favor and encouraged commenters “to include assumptions about capital distributions and competition from banks and other financial institutions in their analyses of the impacts of the proposal on lending and economic growth.”

    Voting against the new standards, FDIC Vice Chairman Travis Hill argued that while he supports strong capital requirements, he has several “concerns with the impact of excessive gold plating of international standards.” He stressed that the “proposal rejects the notion of capital neutrality and takes a starkly different path, ‘gold plating’ the new Basel standard in a number of ways and dramatically increasing capital requirements for banks with certain business models.”

    Bank Regulatory Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues Federal Reserve FDIC OCC Capital Requirements Compliance Basel Committee

  • Basel Committee updates global systemically important bank assessment methodology and framework

    Federal Issues

    On July 5, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), the primary global standard setter for the prudential regulation of banks, released an updated version of its Global systemically important banks: revised assessment methodology and the higher loss absorbency requirement. The BCBS conducted a review of the original framework—first published in 2011 and updated in 2013—and noted that, based on its review, member jurisdictions’ experience, and feedback received during a public consultation last year, “the framework is meeting its primary objective by requiring [global systemically important banks (G-SIBs)] to hold higher capital buffers and providing incentives for such firms to reduce their systemic importance.” BCBS further stated that the core elements of the framework will be maintained to enhance the stability of the regulatory environment following the finalization of the Basel III post-crisis reforms.

    Among other enhancements, the framework provides the following updates:

    • amends the definition of cross-jurisdictional indicators consistent with the definition of Bank for International Settlements consolidated statistics;
    • introduces a trading volume indicator and modifies the weights in the substitutability category;
    • extends the scope of consolidation to insurance subsidiaries;
    • revises disclosure requirements;
    • provides further guidance on bucket migration and associated higher loss absorbency surcharge when a G-SIB moves to a lower bucket; and
    • adopts a transitional schedule for the implementation of these enhancements.

    The framework is expected to be implemented in member jurisdictions by 2021.

    Federal Issues Basel Committee Bank Regulatory

  • Basel Committee on Banking Supervision publishes final guidance examining the implications of fintech on the banking industry


    On February 19, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), the primary global standard setter for the prudential regulation of banks, released its final report, “Sound Practices: Implications of fintech developments for banks and bank supervisors.” The report—issued after BCBS’ consideration of comments received in response to its August 2017 consultative document of the same name (see previous InfoBytes coverage on the August consultative document here)—provides BCBS’ current assessment of how fintech may shape the banking industry in the near term. The report summarizes BCBS’ analysis of historical research, data compiled from surveys of BCBS members’ frameworks and practices, and other industry feedback, and provides several key considerations for banks and bank supervisors in this space.

    The report identifies a common theme across various scenarios: the emergence of fintech may make it increasingly difficult for banks to maintain their existing operating models due to changes in technology and customer expectations. The BCBS stressed that as a result of the “rapidly changing” nature of banks’ risks and activities due to fintech developments, the rules governing these risks may need to evolve. Accordingly, the BCBS recognized that “it should first contribute to a common understanding of risks and opportunities associated with fintech in the banking sector by describing observed practices before engaging in the determination of the need for any defined requirements or technical recommendations.” It further acknowledged that “fintech-related issues cut across various sectors with jurisdiction-specific institutional and supervisory arrangements that remain outside the scope of its bank-specific mandate.”

    Additionally, the current report identifies five forward-looking scenarios describing the potential impact of fintech on banks:

    • “The better bank: modernisation and digitisation of incumbent players”;
    • “The new bank: replacement of incumbents by challenger banks”;
    • “The distributed bank: fragmentation of financial services among specialised fintech firms and incumbent banks”;
    • “The relegated bank: incumbent banks become commoditised service providers and customer relationships are owned by new intermediaries”; and
    • “The disintermediated bank: banks have become irrelevant as customers interact directly with individual financial service providers.”

    With this issuance, revised to reflect the feedback BCBS received on its August consultative paper, BCBS has provided several “sound practices” for banks and bank supervisors to consider, along with its final ten key implications of fintech, as well as ten key considerations. Some notable considerations include:

    • Banks should have appropriate, effective governance structures and risk management processes to address key risks that may arise due to fintech developments, which may include staff development processes to ensure bank personnel are appropriately trained to manage fintech risks, as well as the development of risk management processes compliant with portions of the BCBS’s Principles for sound management of operational risk that relate to fintech developments.
    • Banks should implement effective IT and other risk management processes to address the risks and implications of using new enabling technologies. Bank supervisors should also “enhance safety and soundness by ensuring that banks adopt such risk management processes and control environments.”
    • Bank supervisors should understand the implications of the growing use of third parties, via outsourcing and/or partnerships, and maintain appropriate due diligence processes, which should “set out the responsibilities of each party, agreed service levels and audit rights” when contracting with third-party service providers.
    • Bank supervisors should communicate and coordinate with public authorities responsible for the oversight of fintech-related regulatory functions that are outside the purview of prudential supervision, including safeguarding data privacy, cybersecurity, consumer protection, and complying with anti-money laundering requirements. The recommendation removes the phrase “whether or not the service is provided by a bank or fintech firms,” which was contained in the August consultative document.
    • Bank supervisors should coordinate global cooperation between banking supervisors when fintech firms expand cross-border operations to enhance global safety and soundness by engaging in appropriate supervisory coordination and information-sharing. Recently, on February 19, the U.S. Commodity and Futures Trading Commission and the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority signed an agreement outlining a commitment to collaborate and support each regulator’s efforts to encourage responsible fintech innovation; monitor development and trends; and obtain more effective and efficient regulation and oversight of the market. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.)
    • The report stresses the importance of collaboration between bank regulators, specifically in jurisdictions where non-bank unregulated firms are providing services previously conducted by banks. The BCBS further notes that bank supervisors should review existing supervisory frameworks to consider whether potential new innovative business models can evolve in a manner that has appropriate banking oversight but does not unduly hamper innovation.

    Fintech Basel Committee U.K. CFTC

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