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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • National Bank Agrees to $110 Million Class Action Settlement for Improper Sales Practices


    On March 28, a national bank announced that it will pay $110 million to settle a 2015 class action lawsuit regarding retail sales practices that involved bank employees creating deposit and credit card accounts without obtaining consent to do so. The settlement class includes all consumers who claim that the bank—without their consent—opened an account, enrolled them in a product or service, or submitted an application for a product or service in their name during the time period from January 1, 2009 through the execution date of the settlement agreement, which must still be approved by the court. The settlement amount will be set aside for consumer compensation and is in addition to remediation amounts already paid to the Los Angeles City Attorney and the fees paid pursuant to consent orders entered into with the CFPB and OCC. The bank also noted that it agreed to the settlement notwithstanding an arbitration clause contained in the Bank’s deposit agreement. The bank is also conducting a voluntary review of accounts from 2009 - 2010 to determine and remediate any consumer harm.

    Courts Consumer Finance Class Action UDAAP Incentive Compensation

  • National Bank Terminates Four Senior Managers in Response to Sales Practices Scandal

    Consumer Finance

    On February 21, a national bank fined by the CFPB last September for opening deposit and credit card accounts without customers’ knowledge announced the termination of four current or former senior managers in its Community Banking Department. The individuals will not receive 2016 bonuses and will forfeit unvested equity rewards and vested outstanding options. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the bank’s incentive compensation program encouraged employees to “engage[] in Improper Sales Practices to satisfy goals and earn financial rewards”—practices that the CFPB alleged were unfair and abusive. The bank eliminated all product sales goals in retail banking effective January 1 of this year, and is conducting its own independent investigation, which is ongoing.

    Consumer Finance Banking CFPB UDAAP Incentive Compensation

  • NYDFS Issues New Guidance on Banks' Incentive Compensation Arrangements

    Consumer Finance

    On October 11, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) issued new guidance regarding incentive compensation arrangements, advising “all regulated banking institutions that no incentive compensation may be tied to employee performance indicators, such as the number of accounts opened, or the number of products sold per customer, without effective risk management, oversight and control.” At a minimum, the guidance requires that a bank’s incentive compensation arrangement address the following principles: (i) balance between risks and rewards; (ii) effective controls and risk management; and (iii) effective corporate governance. NYDFS stated that a bank’s lack of compliance with the guidance will be reflected in its regulatory examination rating and may result in additional regulatory action.

    The NYDFS’s recently released guidance comes in the wake of a September action taken jointly by the OCC and the CFPB over a bank’s alleged sales practices under which, in an effort to meet sales goals and earn financial rewards under the bank’s incentive compensation program, employees purportedly opened deposit and credit card accounts for consumers without obtaining those consumers’ consent.

    Banking State Issues CFPB OCC Risk Management NYDFS Incentive Compensation

  • CFPB Issues Consent Order to National Bank Over Account Operations

    Consumer Finance

    On September 8, the CFPB issued a consent order to a national bank to resolve allegations that its employees opened deposit and credit card accounts for consumers without obtaining consent to do so. According to the CFPB’s consent order, the respondent implemented an incentive compensation program under which employees “engaged in Improper Sales Practices to satisfy goals and earn financial rewards.” The CFPB alleges that the bank’s employees’ Improper Sales Practices were unfair and abusive. Specifically, the consent order alleges that the employees, possibly without consumers’ knowledge or without their consent, (i) opened more than 1.5 million deposit accounts and subsequently transferred money from consumers’ existing accounts to fund the newly opened accounts; (ii) submitted approximately 565,000 credit card account applications on behalf of consumers, with consumers consequently incurring late, annual, and over-draft fees on such accounts; (iii) issued debit cards and created personal identification numbers to activate the cards; and (iv) enrolled consumers in online-banking services. Pursuant to the consent order, the bank, among other things, must pay a civil penalty of $100 million and an expected $2.5 million in consumer redress.

    CFPB UDAAP Overdraft Incentive Compensation


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