Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.
On August 8, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-19-22, which consolidates and clarifies guidance related to Section 309 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, Public Law No. 115-174, and updates guidance regarding loan seasoning requirements based on the “Protecting Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act of 2019,” Public Law No. 116-33. (Covered by InfoBytes here and here.) The Circular states that a lender (broker or agent included), a servicer, or issuer of an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) must, among other things:
- Recoup Fees. Certify that certain fees and costs of the loan will be recouped on or before 36 months after the loan note date;
- Net Tangible Benefit. Establish that when the previous loan had a fixed interest rate (i) the new fixed interest rate is at least 0.5 percent lower, or (ii) if the new loan has an adjustable rate, that the rate is at least 2 percent lower than the previous loan. In each instance, the lower rate cannot be produced solely from discount points except in certain circumstances;
- Loan Seasoning. Follow a seasoning requirement for all VA-guaranteed loans. A loan cannot be refinanced until (i) the date on which the borrower has made at least six consecutive monthly payments on the loan being refinanced, and (ii) the date that is 210 days after the first payment due date of the loan being refinanced; and
- Disclosure. Present a comparison of the refinance loan to the original loan within two business days from the initial loan application and again at closing that includes information about the overall cost of refinance. The Circular offers a sample comparison statement in Exhibit C.
On June 7, the Hawaii governor signed HB 988, which provides 120-day temporary authority for certain mortgage loan originators to originate loans in Hawaii without a state license. Pursuant to Section 106 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, the bill allows a federally-registered mortgage loan originator (MLO) holding an MLO license in another state while employed by a Hawaii-licensed mortgage company, to have temporary authority to act as a state-licensed MLO for a period not to exceed 120 days while the MLO’s Hawaii license application is pending. MLOs with temporary authority are subject to the applicable laws of Hawaii to the same extent as persons licensed by Hawaii. The bill is effective on November 24.
Agencies adopt final rules excluding community banks from the Volcker Rule; simplify regulatory capital rules
On July 9, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed), CFTC, FDIC, OCC, and SEC adopted a final rule implementing sections of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act to grant an exclusion for community banks from the Volcker Rule, which generally restricts banking entities from engaging in proprietary trading and from owning, sponsoring, or having certain relationships with hedge funds or private equity funds. Qualifying financial institutions must have fewer than $10 billion in total consolidated assets and total trading assets, as well as liabilities that are equal to or less than five percent of their total consolidated assets. The rule also permits, under certain circumstances, a hedge fund or private equity fund organized and offered by a banking entity to share a name with a banking entity that is its investment advisor that is not an insured bank or bank holding company. The rule will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register.
The same day, the Fed, FDIC, and OCC also finalized a rule “intended to simplify and clarify a number of the more complex aspects of the agencies’ existing regulatory capital rules” for banks with less than $250 billion in total consolidated assets and less than $10 billion in total foreign exposure. Among other changes, the rule alters the capital treatment for mortgage servicing assets, certain deferred tax assets, as well as investments in the capital instruments of unconsolidated financial institutions. The final rule will be effective as of April 1, 2020, for the amendments to simplify capital rules, and as of October 1, 2019 for revisions to the pre-approval requirements for the redemption of common stock and other technical amendments.
On July 1, the OCC issued Bulletin 2019-31, which describes the process for federal savings associations to make an election to operate as “covered savings associations,” with the rights and privileges of national banks under the May 24 Home Owners’ Loan Act (HOLA) final rule. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the OCC issued a final rule—pursuant to section 206 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, amending the Home Owners’ Loan Act (HOLA)—which establishes standards permitting federal savings associations with total consolidated assets of $20 billion or less as of December 31, 2017, to elect to operate as “covered savings associations,” with the rights and privileges of national banks. The final rule provides that associations who choose this election will retain their federal savings association charters and existing governance frameworks, and will generally be subject to the same duties, restrictions, penalties, liabilities, conditions, and limitations that apply to national banks.
Bulletin 2019-31 reminds entities of the July 1 effective date of the final rule and provides details on the process for making an election pursuant to the rule. Additionally, along with the Bulletin, the OCC released a set of Frequently Asked Questions covering the final rule.
On June 24, the FTC finalized the “Free Electronic Credit Monitoring for Active Duty Military Rule,” which implements the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act requirement for nationwide consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to provide free electronic credit monitoring services for active duty military consumers. The proposed rule, issued in November 2018 (covered by InfoBytes here), defined the term “electronic credit monitoring service” as a service through which the CRAs provide, at a minimum, electronic notification of material additions or modifications to a consumer’s file and requires CRAs to notify active duty military consumers within 24 hours of any material change. The proposal noted that CRAs may require that active duty military provide contact information, proof of identity, and proof of active duty status in order to use the free service and outlines how a servicemember may prove active duty status, such as with a copy of active duty orders. Additionally, the proposal prohibited CRAs from requiring active duty military consumers to purchase a product in order to obtain the free service.
In response to comments on the proposal, the final rule refers to the definition of “active duty military consumer” in the FCRA, which requires that the servicemember be assigned to service away from their usual duty station, or be a member of the National Guard, regardless of whether the National Guard member is stationed away from their normal duty station. The FTC noted that commenters requested the requirement that the servicemember be stationed away from their normal duty station be eliminated but “the statutory language limit[ed] the Commission’s discretion on [the] topic.” However, the FCRA does not apply the same duty station requirement to the National Guard. Additionally, the final rule, among other things (i) requires CRAs to provide free access to a credit file when it notifies an active duty military consumer about a material change to the file; (ii) extends the amount of time the CRAs have to notify an active duty military consumer of a material change from 24 hours to 48 hours; and (iii) prohibits CRAs from requiring that active duty military consumers agree to terms or conditions as a requirement to obtain their free credit file, unless the terms or conditions are necessary to comply with certain legal requirements.
While the final rule goes into effect three months after publication in the Federal Register, CRAs will be allowed to comply with certain portions of the final rule by offering existing credit monitoring services to active duty military consumers for free, for a period of up to one year from the effective date.
On June 21, the Federal Reserve Board released the results of its supervisory Dodd-Frank Act bank stress tests conducted on 18 financial institutions, which collectively hold 70 percent of bank assets in the U.S. Under the most severe scenario tested by the Fed, consisting of a severe global recession— “with the U.S. unemployment rate rising by more than 6 percentage points to 10 percent, accompanied by a large decline in real estate prices and elevated stress in corporate loan markets”— the Fed projected losses at the 18 institutions would total $410 billion and the aggregate common equity tier 1 capital ratio would fall from an actual 12.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 9.2 percent. Vice Chairman, Randal K. Quarles, noted that “[t]he results confirm that our financial system remains resilient,” and “the nation’s largest banks are significantly stronger before the crisis and would be well-positioned to support the economy after a secure shock.”
On June 17, the FDIC, the OCC, and Federal Reserve issued the final rule to streamline regulatory reporting for qualifying small institutions to implement Section 205 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. The agencies adopted the final rule as proposed in November 2018 (covered by InfoBytes here). The final rule permits depository institutions with less than $5 billion in assets—previously set at $1 billion—that do not engage in certain complex or international activities to file the FFIEC 051 Call Report, the most streamlined version of the Call Reports. Additionally, the rule reduces the existing reportable data items in the FFIEC 051 Call Report by approximately 37 percent for the first and third calendar quarters. The rule also includes similar provisions for uninsured institutions with less than $5 billion in total consolidated assets that are supervised by the Federal Reserve and the OCC. The rule notes that the agencies are also committed to “exploring further burden reduction and are actively evaluating further revisions to the FFIEC 051 Call Report, consistent with guiding principles developed by the FFIEC.” The rule will take effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
On June 4, the OCC extended the deadline for national banks and federal savings associations (FSAs) with consolidated assets between $100 billion and $250 billion to comply with the Dodd-Frank stress test (DFAST) requirements to November 25. In December 2018, the OCC issued a letter noting that prior DFAST exams and OCC supervision have indicated that qualifying banks with consolidated assets within these thresholds have adopted effective stress testing programs and integrated them into their general risk management tools, and as such, “requiring DFAST submissions for these banks in 2019 would provide limited supervisory value.” According to the OCC, the extension is consistent with the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act’s goal of reducing regulatory burden for applicable national banks and FSAs.
OCC issues final rule allowing certain federal savings associations to operate with national bank powers
On May 24, the OCC issued a final rule, which establishes standards permitting federal savings associations with total consolidated assets of $20 billion or less as of December 31, 2017, to elect to operate as “covered savings associations,” with the rights and privileges of national banks. The final rule—issued pursuant to section 206 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which amended the Home Owners’ Loan Act (HOLA)—provides that associations who choose this election will retain their federal savings association charters and existing governance frameworks, and will generally be subject to the same duties, restrictions, penalties, liabilities, conditions, and limitations that apply to national banks. Among other things, the final rule also states that “a covered savings association may continue to operate as a covered savings association if, after the effective date of the election, it has total consolidated assets greater than $20 billion.” The final rule takes effect July 1.
On May 22, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs released the CFPB’s spring 2019 rulemaking agenda. According to a Bureau blog post, the information presented represents regulatory matters it “reasonably anticipates having under consideration during the period of May 1, 2019, to April 30, 2020.” The rulemaking activities include implementing statutory directives mandated in the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the Act), continuing certain other rulemakings previously outlined in the Bureau’s fall 2018 agenda (covered by InfoBytes here), as well as considering future projects and requests for information.
Key rulemaking initiatives include:
- Property Assessed Clean Energy Loans (PACE): On March 4, the Bureau published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) and request for comments in response to Section 307 of the Act, which amended TILA to mandate the CFPB propose regulations related to PACE financing. The regulations must carry out the purposes of TILA’s ability-to-repay requirements, and apply TILA’s general civil liability provisions for violations. (InfoBytes coverage here.)
- Remittance Transfers: On April 25, the Bureau issued a request for information (RFI) on two aspects of the Remittance Rule that require financial companies handling international money transfers, or remittance transfers, to disclose to individuals transferring money the exact exchange rate, fees, and the amount expected to be delivered. The RFI seeks information related to the expiration of the temporary exception and whether to propose changing the number of remittance transfers a provider must make to be governed by the rule. (InfoBytes coverage here.)
- HMDA/Regulation C: On May 2, the Bureau issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to raise permanently coverage thresholds for collecting and reporting data about closed-end mortgage loans and open-end lines of credit under the HMDA rules. Specifically, the NPRM would raise permanently the reporting threshold for closed-end mortgage loans from 25 loans in each of the two preceding calendar years to either 50 or 100 closed-end loans in each of the preceding two calendar years. (InfoBytes coverage here.)
- Debt Collection Rule: On May 7, the Bureau issued a NPRM to amend Regulation F, which implements the FDCPA, covering debt collection communications and consumer disclosures and addressing related practices by debt collectors. The Bureau reports that the NPRM “builds on research and pre-rulemaking activities regarding the debt collection market, which remains a top source of complaints.” (InfoBytes coverage here.)
- Payday Rule/Delay of Compliance Date: On February 6, the Bureau released two NPRMs related to certain payday lending requirements under the CFPB’s 2017 final rule covering “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” (the Rule). The first proposal would rescind portions of the Rule related to ability-to-repay underwriting standards for payday loans and related products scheduled to take effect later this year, while the second proposal would delay the compliance date for those same provisions for fifteen months. The Bureau anticipates it will issue a final rule concerning the compliance date this summer and a final determination on reconsideration thereafter. (InfoBytes coverage here.)
Long term priorities include rulemaking addressing (i) consumer reporting; (ii) amendments to FIRREA concerning automated valuation models; (iii) disclosure of records and information; (iv) consumer access to financial records; (v) Regulation E modernization; (vi) rules to implement the Act, concerning various mortgage requirements, student lending, and consumer reporting; and (vii) clarity for the definition of abusive acts and practices.
- Melissa Klimkiewicz to discuss "Flood insurance basics" at the NAFCU Virtual Regulatory Compliance School
- H Joshua Kotin and Jessica M. Shannon to discuss "TILA/RESPA mortgage servicing rules" at the NAFCU Virtual Regulatory Compliance School
- Sasha Leonhardt to discuss "Privacy laws clarified" at the National Settlement Services Summit (NS3)
- Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss "New privacy legislation: Preparing for a major source of class action and enforcement activity going forward" at the American Conference Institute Consumer Finance Class Actions, Litigation & Government Enforcement Actions
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk and Lauren Frank to discuss "New CFPB interpretation on UDAAP" at a California Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Quality and Compliance Committee webinar
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "High standards: Best practices for banking marijuana-related businesses" at the ACAMS AML & Anti-Financial Crime Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Wait wait ... do tell me! Where the panelists answer to you" at the ACAMS AML & Anti-Financial Crime Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "The future of fair lending" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference