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On December 12, the OCC and the FDIC jointly issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) to modernize the regulatory framework implementing the Community Reinvestment Act. The NPR generally focuses on expanding and delineating the activities that qualify for CRA consideration, providing benchmarks to determine what levels of activity are necessary to obtain a particular CRA rating, establishing additional assessment areas based on the location of a bank’s deposits, and increasing clarity, consistency, and transparency in reporting.
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Click here to read the full special alert.
If you have any questions regarding the CRA or other related issues, please visit our Fair Lending practice page or contact a Buckley attorney with whom you have worked in the past.
On December 2, the FDIC announced the release of its full enforcement manual (manual). According to Financial Institution Letter (see FIL-76-2019), the manual, which was posted to the FDIC website, is meant to “support the work of field office, regional office, and Washington office staff involved in processing and monitoring enforcement actions.” The letter states that the manual was released to promote “greater transparency” to FDIC-insured institutions and other concerned parties as to the agency’s enforcement policies and procedures. Additionally, the letter cautions that the manual “does not interpret any law or regulation” nor does it “establish supervisory requirements” or “industry guidance.”
On November 21, six Democratic Senators wrote to OCC Comptroller Joseph Otting and FDIC Chairman Jelena Williams to strongly oppose recent proposed rules by the agencies (see OCC notice here and FDIC notice here). As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, the OCC and FDIC proposed rules reassert the “valid-when-made doctrine,” which states that loan interest that is permissible when the loan is made to a bank remains permissible after the loan is transferred to a nonbank. In the letter, the Senators suggest that the proposed rules enable non-bank lenders to avoid state interest rate limits. According to the letter, the proposed rules would encourage “payday and other non-bank lenders to launder their loans through banks so that they can charge whatever interest rate federally-regulated banks may charge.” Additionally, the letter urges both agencies to consider their past declarations against “rent-a-bank” schemes, and contends that the agencies should not attempt to address Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC, which rejected the valid-when-made doctrine, through rulemaking, but should instead leave such lawmaking to Congress.
On December 3, the Federal Reserve, the CFPB, the FDIC, the NCUA, and the OCC (agencies) issued an Interagency Statement on alternative data use in credit underwriting, highlighting applicable consumer protection laws and noting risks and benefits. (See press release here). According to the statement, alternative data use in underwriting may “lower the cost of credit” and expand credit access, a point previously raised by the CFPB and covered in InfoBytes. Specifically, the potential benefits include: (i) increased “speed and accuracy of credit decisions”; (ii) lender ability to “evaluate the creditworthiness of consumers who currently may not obtain credit in the mainstream credit system”; and (iii) consumer ability “to obtain additional products and/or more favorable pricing/terms based on enhanced assessments of repayment capacity.” “Alternative data” refers to information not usually found in traditional credit reports or typically provided by customers, including for example, automated “cash flow evaluation” which evaluates a borrower’s capacity to meet payment obligations and is derived from a consumer’s bank account records. The statement indicates that this approach can improve the “measurement of income and expenses” of consumers with steady income over time from multiple sources, rather than a single job. The statement also recognizes that the way in which entities use alternative data—for example, implementing a “Second Look” program, where alternative data is only used for applicants that would otherwise be denied credit—can increase credit access. The statement points out that use of alternative data may increase potential risks, and that those practices must comply with applicable consumer protection laws, including “fair lending laws, prohibitions against unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” Therefore, the agencies encourage entities to incorporate appropriate “robust compliance management” when using alternative data in order to protect consumer information.
Federal and state banking regulators confirmed in a December 3 joint statement that banks are no longer required to file a suspicious activity report on customers solely because they are “engaged in the growth or cultivation of hemp in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.”
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Click here to read the full special alert.
For questions about the alert and related issues, please visit our Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering practice page, or contact a Buckley attorney with whom you have worked in the past.
On November 18, 2019 the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) issued a proposed rule to clarify that when a national bank or savings association sells, assigns, or otherwise transfers a loan, the interest permissible prior to the transfer continues to be permissible following the transfer. The very next day, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) followed suit with respect to state chartered banks. The proposals are intended to address problems created by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC, a decision that cast doubt, at least in the Second Circuit states, about the effect of a transfer or assignment on a bank loan’s stated interest rate that was nonusurious when made. Comments on these proposals are due 60 days following publication in the Federal Register, and as noted below, the case for robust banking industry comment is more compelling than is typically the case.
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Click here to read the full special alert.
If you have any questions about the alert or other related issues, please visit our Fintech practice page or contact a Buckley attorney with whom you have worked in the past.
On November 19, the FDIC issued a proposed rule, which would formalize the agency’s Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDI Act) Section 19 policy statement covering individuals seeking to work in the banking industry who have been convicted of certain crimes. In general, Section 19 of the FDI Act prohibits, without the prior written consent of the FDIC, any person who has been convicted of any criminal offense involving dishonesty, breach of trust, or money laundering—or who has entered into a pretrial diversion or similar program in connection with such an offense—from participating in the banking industry. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in August 2018, the FDIC updated the statement of policy to expand the criteria of de minimis offenses for which the FDIC will not require the filing of an application and (i) clarify when an expungement is considered complete for Section 19 purposes; (ii) recognize that convictions set aside based on procedural or substantive error should not be considered convictions under Section 19; and (iii) adjust the definition of “jail time” to not include “those on probation or parole who may be restricted to a particular jurisdiction.”
The proposal not only seeks to codify the policy statement but requests public comment on all aspects of the policy. According to Chairman McWilliams, the FDIC is particularly interested in “whether and how the FDIC should expand the criteria for what constitutes a de minimis offense.” Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On November 14, the FDIC released its latest issue of the FDIC Quarterly, which analyzes the U.S. banking system and focuses on changes occurring since the 2008 financial crisis, particularly within nonbank lending growth. The three reports—published by the FDIC’s Division of Insurance and Research—“address the shift in some lending from banks to nonbanks; how corporate borrowing has moved between banks and capital markets; and the migration of some home mortgage origination and servicing from banks to nonbanks.”
- Bank and Nonbank Lending Over the Past 70 Years notes that total lending in the U.S. has grown dramatically since the 1950s, with a shift in bank lending that reflects the growth of nonbank loan holders as nonbanks have gained market share in residential mortgage and corporate lending. The report states that in 2017, nonbanks represented 53 percent of mortgages originated by HMDA filers, and originated a significant volume of loans for sale to the GSEs. Mortgage servicing also saw a shift from banks to nonbanks, with nonbanks holding “42 percent of mortgage servicing rights held by the top 25 servicers in 2018.” The report also discusses shifts in lending for commercial real estate, agricultural loans, consumer credit, and auto loans, and notes that bank lending to nondepository financial institutions has grown from roughly $50 billion in 2010 to $442 billion in the second quarter of 2019.
- Leveraged Lending and Corporate Borrowing: Increased Reliance on Capital Markets, With Important Bank Links examines the shift in corporate borrowing from banks to nonbanks, with nonfinancial corporations “relying more on capital markets and less on bank loans as a funding source.” The report also, among other things, discusses resulting risks and notes that “[d]espite the concentration of corporate debt in nonbank credit markets, banks still face both direct and indirect exposure to corporate debt risks.”
- Trends in Mortgage Origination and Servicing: Nonbanks in the Post-Crisis Period examines changes to the mortgage market post 2007, including the migration outside of the banking system of a substantive share of mortgage origination and servicing. The report also discusses trends within the mortgage industry, key characteristics of nonbank originators and servicers, potential risks posed by nonbanks, as well as potential implications the migration to nonbanks may pose for banks and the financial system. Specifically, the report lists several factors contributing to the resurgence of nonbanks in mortgage origination and servicing, including (i) crisis-era legacy portfolio litigation at bank originators; (ii) more aggressive nonbank expansion (iii) nonbanks’ technological innovations and mortgage-focused business models; (iv) large banks’ sales of crisis-era legacy servicing portfolios due to servicing deficiencies and other difficulties; and (v) capital treatment changes to mortgage servicing assets applicable to banks. The report emphasizes, however, that “[c]hanging mortgage market dynamics and new risks and uncertainties warrant investigation of potential implications for systemic risk.”
On November 6, the FDIC announced that a Washington-based bank agreed to settle allegations that it violated RESPA by paying fees to real estate brokers and homebuilders in exchange for mortgage business referrals. Section 8(a) of RESPA “prohibits giving or accepting a thing of value for the referral of settlement service involving a federally related mortgage loan.” According to the FDIC, the bank’s discontinued mortgage banking line allegedly entered into arrangements with real estate brokers and homebuilders to co-market services through online platforms. The FDIC also alleged that the bank’s mortgage banking business rented desk space in brokers’ and homebuilders’ offices, which resulted in the payment of fees by the bank for referrals of mortgage loan business. The FDIC further stated, “While co-marketing arrangements and desk rental agreements are permissible where the fees paid bear a reasonable relationship to the fair market value of marketing or rental costs, such arrangements and agreements violate RESPA when the amounts paid exceed fair market value and the excess is for referrals of mortgage business.” The bank, which has neither admitted nor denied the charges, has agreed to pay a $1.35 million civil money penalty under the terms of the settlement order, and has terminated all of its co-marketing and desk rental agreements.
On November 6, 2019 the FDIC published a notice and request for public comment in the Federal Register seeking input on a new collection of information titled “Information Collection for Innovation Pilot Programs.” The FDIC notes that the innovation pilot program framework is a continuation of the agency’s efforts to engage and collaborate “with innovators in the financial, non-financial, and technology sectors to, among other things, identify, develop, and promote technology-driven innovations among community and other banks in a manner that ensures the safety and soundness of FDIC-supervised and insured institutions.” The framework is intended to provide a regulatory environment to facilitate the testing of innovative and novel approaches or applications involving a variety of banking products and services that may lead to cost reductions, increased access to financial services, and a decrease in operational, risk management, or compliance costs for insured depository institutions. While the FDIC plans on announcing additional details and the framework’s parameters at a later date, the agency stated that “innovators (banks and firms in partnership with banks) will be invited to voluntarily propose time limited pilot programs, which will be collected and considered by the FDIC on a case-by-case basis.”
Comments on the proposal are due January 6, 2020.