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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Agencies say supervisory guidance does not have the “force and effect” of law

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve CFPB FDIC NCUA OCC Supervision Examination Enforcement

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On September 11, five federal agencies (the Federal Reserve Board, CFPB, FDIC, NCUA, and OCC) issued a joint statement confirming that supervisory guidance “does not have the force and effect of law, and [that] the agencies do not take enforcement actions based on supervisory guidance.” The statement distinguishes the various types of supervisory guidance—interagency statements, advisories, bulletins, policy statements, questions and answers, and frequently asked questions—from laws or regulations and emphasizes that the intention of supervisory guidance is to outline agencies’ expectations or priorities. The statement highlights five policies and practices related to supervisory guidance: (i) limit the use of numerical thresholds or other “bright-line” requirements; (ii) examiners will not cite to “violations” of supervisory guidance; (iii) request for public comment does not mean the guidance has the force and effect of law; (iv) limit multiple issuances of guidance on the same topic; and (v) continue to emphasize the role of supervisory guidance to examiners and to supervised institutions.

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