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On November 7, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) announced the issuance of an updated Uniform Interagency Consumer Compliance Rating System, more commonly known as the “CC Rating System.” In final guidance the FFIEC explains that the new rating system has been re-designed “to better reflect current consumer compliance supervisory approaches and to more fully align the CC Rating System with the Agencies’ current risk-based, tailored examination processes.” The agency also notes that the revisions “were not developed to set new or higher supervisory expectations for financial institutions and their adoption will represent no additional regulatory burden” (emphasis added).
Under the new CC Rating System, institutions will be assessed on a 1-to-5 rating scale in three distinct categories: (i) board and management oversight; (ii) compliance program and violations of law; and (iii) consumer harm. The new rating system will be used by all FFIEC member agencies – including CFPB in its evaluation of non-depository institutions. FFIEC member agencies plan to implement the updated rating system on consumer compliance examinations that begin on or after March 31, 2017.
SEC Chair Mary Jo White is scheduled to testify later this month at separate House Financial Services Committee hearings, a spokesman for the panel said. White will appear before the committee on November 15 to answer questions regarding the SEC’s agenda, operations, and budget request. She will be the only witness.
On November 2, the CFPB, in partnership with the New York Attorney General, filed a lawsuit in a federal district court against the leaders of a debt collection operation based out of Buffalo. The lawsuit alleges that defendants operate a network of companies that harass and/or deceive consumers into paying inflated debts or amounts they may not owe. The Bureau is seeking to shut down the operation and to obtain compensation for victims and a civil penalty against the companies and partners.
On November 3, the CFPB filed a lawsuit in federal district court against a Virginia pawnbroker for deceiving consumers about the actual annual cost of its loans. In its Complaint, the CFPB alleges both TILA violations and unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices under Dodd-Frank and the CPA. The complaint seeks monetary relief, injunctive relief, and penalties. The CFPB coordinated its investigation with the Virginia Attorney General’s office – which filed its own lawsuit against the same pawnbrokers back in July 2015 for violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
In a press release issued November 9, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that a leading mortgage services provider and its affiliate, agreed to pay a $28 million fine and engage a third-party auditor as part of a settlement agreement and consent order with the NY Department of Financial Services. The matter arose after a series of audits conducted by the NYDFS had revealed inconsistencies in how mortgage foreclosures were documented and processed. As part of the settlement agreement, the company has agreed to allow an independent third-party auditor to help identify borrowers entitled to refunds.
New NYDFS Regulation Requires All Institutions of Higher Education to Immediately Provide Uniform Financial Aid Award Information Sheet
On November 3, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state Department of Financial Services has adopted a new regulation requiring all institutions of higher education and vocational schools in New York to immediately begin providing a uniform Financial Aid Award Information Sheet to undergraduate students when responding to financial aid applications. The U.S. Department of Education utilizes a similar form, however it is less extensive and is not mandatory – except for schools that accept assistance to make loans to military students. Additional information concerning the regulations and model forms can be found here.
On November 16, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will preside over a meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC). The agenda will include both an open and an executive session. The preliminary agenda for the open session includes an update on the work of the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, an update on the council's review of the asset management industry and revisions to the council's regulations under the Freedom of Information Act. The preliminary agenda for the executive session includes a presentation on stress tests of central counterparties conducted by the CFTC, a discussion of confidential data related to the Council’s review of asset management products and activities, and an update on the annual re-evaluation of the designation of a non-bank financial company.
Open session Council meetings are made available to the public via live webcast and also can be viewed after they occur here. Meeting minutes for the most recent Council meeting are generally approved at the next Council meeting and posted online soon afterwards. Meeting minutes for past Council meetings are available here. Readouts for past Council meetings are available here.
Comptroller Curry Announces OCC Will Issue a Paper Soon Describing OCC's Thoughts on National FinTech Charters
In prepared remarks delivered November 3 at the Chatham House “City Series” Conference in London, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry discussed the OCC’s approach to regulating FinTech innovation. In his speech, entitled “The Banking Revolution: Innovation, Regulation and Consumer Choice,” Mr. Curry discussed the rapid growth of worldwide investment in FinTech over the past five years and walked through various regulatory responses to those developments–including the OCC’s guiding principles for its regulatory approach to innovation and its decision to establish a team dedicated to implementing those principles. The Comptroller emphasized that the OCC is still deciding whether to grant national charters to FinTech companies that conduct banking activities, but added that the agency would issue a paper “soon” describing the agency’s thoughts on the subject and inviting public comment.
In a November 1 memorandum, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the names of the popular 7(a) and 504 loan programs have been changed. The “7(a) program” will now be rebranded as the “SBA Advantage Loan Program,” while “504 loans” will be known going forward as the “SBA Grow Loan Program.” The SBA’s memo did not announce any substantive changes to the loan programs.
On October 31, the CFPB released its Financial Literacy Annual Report for 2016. The report describes what the Bureau is doing to “help consumers navigate the financial marketplace and build financial well-being” per its mandate under Dodd-Frank to improve the “financial literacy” of consumers in America. The 2016 edition of the report is broken down into three sections: (i) why there is a need for financial literacy amongst consumers; (ii) the Bureau’s approach to increasing financial literacy; and (iii) research initiatives designed to “understand consumers and the financial market place,” “effective financial education practices,” and “how best to prepare youth for financial capability in adulthood.”