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On June 24, the Federal Reserve Board sent a letter to the Federal Reserve Banks (FRBs) providing guidance regarding the supervision of de novo state member banks, as well as the evaluation of de novo insured depository institutions (IDI) seeking to become state member banks. Under the letter, an insured depository institution is considered to be in the de novo stage until it has been operating for at least three years. Supervisory Letter SR 20-16, which supersedes Supervisory Letter SR 91-17, “applies to any commercial bank, thrift, Edge Act corporation, or industrial bank that has been in existence for less than three years and is converting to become a state member bank,” and outlines de novo application submission guidelines and FRB examination requirements. SR 20-16 provides that within six months following a de novo’s formation or conversion to a state member bank, the responsible FRB should conduct a targeted examination and issue a report summarizing supervisory findings, with targeted focus on the de novo’s risk management process or the management component of the CAMELS rating, as well as any business and operating plans submitted in connection with its membership application.” SR 20-16 outlines the examination cycle and notes that the full-scope statutorily required examination schedule will not occur until a de novo has had three full-scope examinations and has been in operation for three years. SR 20-16 further provides that, for de novo banks that are subsidiaries of existing bank holding companies, an FRB at its discretion, may elect to make a risk-based determination that if the parent bank has consolidated assets of greater than $3 billion and is in good standing, the subsidiary may be examined less frequently.
On June 23, the federal financial institution regulatory agencies (Federal Reserve Board, OCC, FDIC, and NCUA), in conjunction with the state bank and credit union regulators, issued interagency examiner guidance for assessing the safety and soundness of financial institutions in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The joint guidance states that due to the “unique, evolving, and potentially long-term nature of the issues confronting institutions” from the Covid-19 pandemic, examiners will “exercise appropriate flexibility in their supervisory response.” The guidance acknowledges that Covid-19 can have an adverse impact on the financial condition and operational capabilities of financial institutions that have appropriate governance and risk management systems in place.
Among other things, the guidance notes that examiners will (i) “continue to assign supervisory ratings in accordance with the interagency CAMELS and ROCA rating systems”; and (ii) “assess the reasonableness of management’s actions in response to the pandemic given the institution’s business strategy and operational capacity.” The guidance also provides details on things such as capital adequacy and asset quality for examiners to consider when assigning composite and component CAMELS and ROCA ratings.
On May 19, FINRA updated its Covid-19 FAQs (previously discussed here, here, here, here, and here) to extend certain reporting, certification, and testing requirements until June 30, 2020. First, FINRA extended the deadline for registered persons temporarily functioning as principals under FINRA Rule 1210.04 to pass qualification examinations. Second, FINRA extended the deadline for reports related to a member’s supervisory control system that are required under FINRA Rule 3120. Finally, FINRA extended the deadline for members to execute certifications required under FINRA Rule 3130.
On May 13, the FDIC announced the April updates to its Consumer Compliance Examination Manual (CEM). The CEM includes supervisory policies and examination procedures for FDIC examination staff for evaluating financial institutions’ compliance with federal consumer protection laws and regulations, and is designed to promote consistency and efficiency in the FDIC’s examination process. The recent updates include, among other things, (i) changes to the pre-examination planning process; (ii) incorporation of threshold changes for TILA, HMDA, and the Consumer Leasing Act; and (iii) changes to asset-based definitions for small and intermediate banks for the Community Reinvestment Act.
On May 8, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) issued its Supervision and Regulation Report, which summarizes banking system conditions and the Fed’s supervisory and regulatory activities. The annual report discusses the safety and soundness of the banking industry, and explains the Fed’s response to Covid-19 pandemic. The report notes that actions taken by the Fed “use existing flexibility in the regulatory and supervisory framework and do not roll back the measures that allowed the banking sector to enter this crisis as a source of strength….” The report emphasizes that the banking system started 2020 in a healthy financial position, which helped enable institutions to “absorb higher credit losses will continuing to lend during times of stress.” The report notes that banks are facing significant operational challenges as a result of social distancing measures, and that during the first quarter of 2020, U.S. bank earnings declined sharply; however, strains in bank funding markets have somewhat eased since their stressed condition in March. As for the Fed’s supervisory activities, the report states that the Fed has deferred or cancelled non-critical examinations at large financial institutions for the remainder of the year. Specifically, the report notes that “examination activity will reflect operating conditions and will continue to target areas of heightened risk due to containment measure-related developments as well as known deficiencies that existed prior to the current crisis.”
On April 30, the CFPB issued its annual fair lending report to Congress, which outlines the Bureau’s efforts in 2019 to fulfill its fair lending mandate. According to the report, in 2019 the Bureau continued to focus on promoting fair, equitable, and nondiscriminatory access to credit, highlighting several fair lending priorities that continued from years past such as mortgage lending, student loans, and small business lending. The Bureau also highlighted three policies released over the last year to promote innovation and to facilitate compliance: the No-Action Letter Policy, the Trial Disclosure Program Policy, and the Compliance Assistance Sandbox Policy (covered by InfoBytes here). Additionally, the report discussed the Bureau’s efforts in encouraging consumer-friendly innovation to expand access to unbanked and underbanked consumers and communities. These include: (i) using alternative data in credit underwriting to expand credit access responsibly; (ii) issuing a request for information on the use of “Tech Sprints” (covered by InfoBytes here) to encourage regulatory innovation and stakeholder collaboration; (iii) continuing to enforce fair lending laws such as ECOA and HMDA, including reaching a settlement with one of the largest HDMA reporters nationwide to resolve HMDA reporting allegations; and (iv) engaging with stakeholders to discuss fair lending compliance, issues related to credit access, and policy decisions. The report also provides information related to supervision, enforcement, rulemaking, and education efforts.
On April 13, FINRA updated its FAQs on regulatory relief due to Covid-19 to include an FAQ that addresses Paycheck Protection Program loans. The FAQ answers a question relating to loan forgiveness for registered persons, stating that the loan forgiveness amount will not be considered a “compromise with a creditor” and will not need to be reported on Form U4 for question 14K.
On April 10, the CFPB announced the release of a policy statement “Supervisory and Enforcement Practices Regarding the Remittance Rule in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic” addressing the implementation of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), and the Regulation E Remittance Rule (Rule). EFTA’s consumer protections, implemented by the Rule, require financial companies handling international money transfers, or remittance transfers, to disclose the exact exchange rate, fees, and amount delivered to the consumer making the transfer. However, it also provides a temporary exception, which allows institutions that provide remittance transfers to estimate these fees to consumers. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) The temporary exception is set to expire on July 1, and section 919 of the EFTA does not authorize the Bureau to extend it past that date. Accordingly, “[i]n order to minimize the impact of the pandemic on the remittances market…the Bureau will neither cite supervisory violations nor initiate enforcement actions against certain remittance transfer providers” for disclosing estimated fees and exchange rates from July 1 until January 21, 2021.
On April 6, FINRA added new FAQs to its Covid-19 regulatory relief FAQs document, which was launched in March (covered by InfoBytes here). The newly added FAQs state that (i) firms may electronically transmit required copies of the Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration (Form U5) to terminated individuals; (ii) the prescribed period in which continuing education must be completed will be extended through May 31 for persons whose window is currently expired or set to expire before June; and (iii) late filing fees for Forms U4/U5 may be refunded or reduced upon request.
Previously, FINRA added FAQs regarding the “Net Capital Treatment of Covered Loans Under the CARES Act.” The FAQs cover adding back to net capital the “Forgivable Expense Amount” of a loan during the “covered period,” and excluding the loan amount from “aggregate indebtedness.” FINRA will continue to update the FAQ document as necessary, and it will issue a regulatory notice when a date for the termination of the temporary relief measures is determined.
On April 1, the CFPB published a statement which assured that the Bureau will continue to perform examinations and other supervisory work during the Covid-19 pandemic, reinforcing the Bureau’s mission to protect consumers. The statement explains that the Bureau is taking advantage of technology to fulfill its examination duties and to stay in communication with supervised entities. Additionally, the statement suggests that the Bureau will consider individual circumstances and good faith efforts to comply when performing examination and supervisory work.
- Daniel R. Alonso to moderate an interactive roundtable at the Latin Lawyer and GIR Connect: Anti-Corruption & Investigations Conference
- APPROVED Checkpoint Webcast: You have license renewal questions, we have answers
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Fintech trends” at the BIHC Network Elevating Black Excellence Regional Summit
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "Truth in lending” at the American Bar Association National Institute on Consumer Financial Services Basics
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss anti-money-laundering at FELABAN Spanish-language webinar “Perspective for banks: LAFT, FINCEN, OFAC, Cryptocurrency”
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "What’s new in BSA/AML compliance?" at the Institute of International Bankers Regulatory Compliance Seminar
- Marshall T. Bell and John R. Coleman to speak at 2021 AFSA Annual Meeting
- Jon David D. Langlois to discuss "Regulatory update: What you need to know under the new boss; It won’t be the same as the old boss" at the IMN Residential Mortgage Service Rights Forum (East)
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss internal investigations at the Institute of Internal Auditors of Argentina Spanish-language webinar
- Benjamin B. Klubes to discuss “Creating a Fantastic Workplace Culture”
- John R. Coleman and Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss “Consumer financial services government enforcement actions – The CFPB and beyond” at the Government Investigations & Civil Litigation Institute Annual Meeting
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Consumer financial services" at the Practising Law Institute Banking Law Institute
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Regulators always ring twice: Responding to a government request” at ALM Legalweek