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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • OCC releases March CRA evaluations for 19 banks

    On April 1, the OCC released its Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) performance evaluations for last March. The OCC evaluated 19 national banks, federal savings associations, and insured federal branches of foreign banks with a rubric that included four possible ratings: Outstanding, Satisfactory, Needs to Improve, and Substantial Noncompliance. Of the 19 evaluations reported by the OCC, two Midwest banks received the lowest rating, which was “Needs to Improve.” Most entities were rated “Satisfactory,” and four entities were rated “Outstanding.” A full list of the bank evaluations is available here. In an OCC FAQ regarding the implementation of the CRA, the OCC detailed how it evaluated and rated financial institutions by reviewing both the institution itself (such as its capacity, constraints, business strategies, competitors, and peers) and the community the institution serves (such as its demographics, economic data, and its lending, investment, and service opportunities). 

    Bank Regulatory OCC Bank Supervision CRA Supervision FAQs

  • OCC’s Hsu discusses bank fairness and effective compliance risk management

    On March 25, the Acting Comptroller of the Currency, Michael J. Hsu, released a transcript of a speech on fairness and effective compliance risk management in banking, delivered at a banking association meeting. The speech focused on how bank fairness can be used as a “guide and input to effective compliance risk management,” and how Hsu believed banks could develop more fairness in banking. Hsu noted that deploying more resources and adopting modern technologies will be only part of the challenge in improving a bank’s compliance risk programs; the other part of the challenge is “adapting and anticipating” where compliance risks could arise.

    While speaking on the challenges of bank consumer compliance, Hsu discussed rapid changes in product offerings, such as the growth of credit cards, BNPL products, and Earned Wage Access. Hsu discussed how the increase in the digitalization of banking has aligned with third-party arrangements, fraud, and cyber risks in finance. On fairness, Hsu discussed the increased prevalence of overdraft charges and how a “well developed sense of fairness” can guide banks in connection with such areas. Hsu stated that fairness is not unidimensional, and when a bank develops an internal sense of fairness, it should be aware of how multiple notions of fairness interact. For example, he noted that “disparate treatment and disparate impact” provide the foundations for fair lending laws, and to comply with fair lending laws, a bank must mitigate both disparities.

    Bank Regulatory OCC Fair Lending Compliance Risk Management

  • OCC releases Q4 report on first-lien mortgage performance

    On March 19, the OCC released a report on the performance of first-lien mortgages in the federal banking system during the fourth quarter of 2023. According to the report, 97.2 percent of mortgages included in the report were current and performing at the end of the quarter, which is a slight improvement from the fourth quarter of 2022, but also a minor decline from the third quarter of 2023. The report also shows

    • a rise in the percentage of seriously delinquent mortgages compared to the previous quarter (1.2 percent in the fourth quarter compared to 1.1 percent in the third quarter), but this percentage has trended down since the fourth quarter of 2021 (when it was 2.3 percent);
    • a decline in new foreclosures, with 8,320 new foreclosures in the fourth quarter of 2023, compared to 8,965 new foreclosures the previous quarter and a high of 19,524 new foreclosures in the first quarter of 2022;
    • finalization of 7,382 loan modifications, which was less than the 7,436 modifications completed in the prior quarter. Eighty-seven percent of the modifications were “combination modifications,” which are modifications that incorporate more than one type of modification action to improve the loan’s affordability, such as an interest rate reduction and a loan term extension.

    First-lien mortgages account for 22.2 percent of the total outstanding residential mortgage debt in the country, representing approximately 11.7 million loans with a combined principal balance of $2.9 trillion. 

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues OCC Mortgages Foreclosure

  • Agencies extend applicability date of certain provisions of their Community Reinvestment Act final rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On March 21, the FDIC, Fed, and OCC jointly issued an interim final rule to extend the applicability date of certain provisions of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) final rule and requested comments on the extension. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the final rule was intended to modernize how banks comply with the CRA, a law that encouraged banks to help meet the credit needs of low- and moderate-income communities.

    Stated “[t]o promote clarity and consistency,” the agencies have postponed the applicability date of the facility-based assessment areas and public file provisions from April 1, 2024, to January 1, 2026. As a result, banks would not be required to modify their assessment areas or public files in response to the final rule until the new 2026 date. This extension would put these elements on the same timeline as other components of the 2023 CRA final rule that also would take effect on January 1, 2026, including the performance tests and geographic area provisions.

    The agencies also made technical, non-substantive updates to the CRA final rule and related agency regulations that reference it. One of these technical adjustments specified that banks are not required to update their public CRA Notices until January 1, 2026. Public comments on the postponed implementation date must be received 45 days following the rule's publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Bank Regulatory Federal Issues OCC FDIC CRA

  • Senator Romney et al. pen letter confirming nonbank lending regulations, specifically on the ILC charter

    On March 13, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) with 11 other senators penned a brief letter to the heads of the FDIC, OCC, and CFPB that supported the FDIC’s regulation of the industrial loan company (ILC) charter but expressed concerns about delay in processing ILC charter applications. According to the letter, ILCs provide “critical access to credit opportunities within the regulated banking sector.” The letter stated the senators “strongly oppose” regulatory actions against lawful ILC charter applications that may further delay FDIC review and decision-making.

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues ILC FDIC OCC CFPB

  • Bank regulators respond to bankers’ motion to enjoin CRA final rule


    On March 8, the Fed, OCC, and FDIC (the federal banking agencies, or “FBAs”) submitted a brief opposing the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the CRA final rule from going into effect. As previously covered by InfoBytes, a group of trade, banking, and business associations filed a class-action complaint for injunctive relief against the bank regulators’ enforcement of the final rule to implement the CRA before it goes into effect on April 1. The FBAs assert that, in opposing the final rule, the plaintiffs are asking the court to “graft” two exclusions from the CRA’s purpose that are not actually in the statute: first, to exclude geographic areas where a bank conducts retail lending from the scope of the bank’s “entire community”; and second, to exclude a bank’s deposit activities from the assessment on whether a bank is meeting its entire community’s “credit needs.” The banking regulators also argued that the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary relief should fail because the plaintiffs cannot show irreparable harm, in that they have failed to demonstrate that costs to comply with the CRA final rule, which would not apply until 2026 and 2027, were significant when considered in the context of the bank’s overall finances. Finally, the FBAs argued that the public interest and balance of equities favor allowing the final rule to proceed, as, among other factors, “the rule provides significant regulatory relief and lower compliance costs for smaller institutions by increasing the asset size thresholds that determine which performance tests apply to an institution.” 

    Courts Bank Regulatory CRA OCC FDIC Federal Reserve Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Litigation

  • Senator Warren pens letter to banking regulators to check on their regulatory commitments following 2023 bank failures

    On March 10, Senator Warren (D-MA) released a letter to Federal Reserve Vice Chair Michael Barr, FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg, and Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu (the bank regulators) seeking information on any progress with their commitments to strengthen bank regulatory standards following the 2023 banking issues. Warren urged the bank regulators to reinstate the rules for banks with assets between $100 and $250 billion, including liquidity requirements and capital stress tests, that were rolled-back with the 2018 enactment of the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act” (EGRRCPA). She concluded her letter by posing several questions, including asking what efforts the bank regulators are taking to strengthen rules, when these rules are expected to be announced or implemented, how many banks will be subject to these rules, if the implementation process would include a comment period, and if lobbying by large banks against the Basel III capital rule has weakened the bank regulators’ resolve to strengthen rules for banks with more than $100 billion in assets. Sen. Warren has asked for a response by March 25.

    Bank Regulatory Basel FDIC OCC Federal Reserve EGRRCPA Dodd-Frank

  • OCC’s Hsu speaks on operational resilience framework as regulators consider non-financial disruptions

    Federal Issues

    On March 12, the Acting Director for the OCC, Michael J. Hsu, delivered a speech at a banking conference in Washington, D.C. on “operational resilience,” which he defined as a bank’s ability to “prepare for, and adapt to, and withstand or recover from disruptions.” Hsu stressed that the most concerning impacts on financial institutions are not financial, but often arise from natural disasters, pandemics, global conflicts, or weak internal governance management. The acting director noted an increase in the probability of disruptions occurring and the impacts of them. In response, the OCC will expect financial institutions to be operationally resilient, and Hsu stated that the federal banking agencies are considering making changes to their operational resilience framework for large banks and possibly third-party service providers.

    These principles were first laid out in a white paper following the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center whereby the paper promoted geographic diversity and the resiliency of data centers. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, the federal banking agencies issued a paper that integrated existing guidance and common industry practices in October 2020.

    Federal Issues OCC Operational Resilience

  • FDIC releases March CRA evaluations for 56 banks, three rated as “Needs to Improve”

    On March 4, the FDIC released a list of state nonmember banks evaluated for compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) for March. The FDIC evaluated 56 banks with four ratings: Outstanding, Satisfactory, Needs to Improve, and Substantial Noncompliance. Of the 56 evaluations reported by the FDIC, three banks hold the lowest given ratings as “Needs to Improve.” Most banks were rated “Satisfactory,” and seven banks were rated “Outstanding.” According to the FDIC’s release, a copy of a bank’s CRA evaluation is available directly from the bank, as required by law, or from the FDIC’s Public Information Center.

    Bank Regulatory CRA Banking OCC Bank Supervision

  • OCC releases February CRA evaluations for 31 banks, one “Needs to Improve”

    On March 1, the OCC released its Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) performance evaluations for last February. The OCC evaluated 31 national banks and federal savings associations under four ratings: Outstanding, Satisfactory, Needs to Improve, and Substantial Noncompliance. Of the 31 evaluations reported by the OCC, only one entity holds the lowest rating, a small bank in Indiana, which was rated “Needs to Improve.” Most entities were rated “Satisfactory,” and six entities were rated “Outstanding.” In an OCC FAQ regarding the implementation of the CRA, the OCC detailed how it evaluates and rates financial institutions by reviewing both the institution itself (such as its capacity, constraints, business strategies, competitors, and peers) and the community the institution it serves (such as its demographics, economic data, lending, investment, and service opportunities). 

    Bank Regulatory Supervision CRA OCC FAQs


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