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  • Trump enacts bipartisan regulatory relief bill

    Federal Issues

    On May 24, President Trump signed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155) (the bill) — which modifies provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and eases certain regulations on certain smaller banks and credit unions. Upon signing, the White House released a statement quoting the president, “[c]ommunity banks are the backbone of small business in America. We are going to preserve our community banks.”

    The House, on May 22, passed the bipartisan regulatory reform bill by a vote of 258-159. The bill was crafted by Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho and passed by the Senate in March. The House passed the bill without any changes to the Senate version, even though House Financial Services Chairman, Jeb Hensarling, originally pushed for additional reform provisions to be included. Specifically, the bill does not include certain provisions that were part of Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act, such as (i) a complete repeal of the Volker Rule; (ii) subjecting the CFPB to the Congressional appropriations process and restructure the agency with a bipartisan commission; and (iii) reducing the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s (FSOC) authority to designate nonbank financial institutions as Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFIs).

    In response to the bill’s passage, the OCC’s Comptroller of Currency, Joseph Otting, issued a statement supporting the regulatory changes and congratulating the House, “[t]his bill restores an important balance to the business of banking by providing meaningful reductions of regulatory burden for community and regional institutions while safeguarding the financial system and protecting consumers.” Additionally, acting Director of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, applauded Congress, noting that the reforms to mortgage lending were “long overdue” and called the bill “the most significant financial reform legislation in recent history.”

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, the highlights of the bill include:

    • Improving consumer access to mortgage credit. The bill’s provisions state, among other things, that: (i) banks with less than $10 billion in assets are exempt from ability-to-repay requirements for certain qualified residential mortgage loans held in portfolio; (ii) appraisals will not be required for certain transactions valued at less than $400,000 in rural areas; (iii) banks and credit unions that originate fewer than 500 open-end and 500 closed-end mortgages are exempt from HMDA’s expanded data disclosures (the provision would not apply to nonbanks and would not exempt institutions from HMDA reporting altogether); (iv) amendments to the S.A.F.E. Mortgage Licensing Act will provide registered mortgage loan originators in good standing with 120 days of transitional authority to originate loans when moving from a federal depository institution to a non-depository institution or across state lines; and (v) the CFPB must clarify how TRID applies to mortgage assumption transactions and construction-to-permanent home loans, as well as outline certain liabilities related to model disclosure use.
    • Regulatory relief for certain institutions. Among other things, the bill simplifies capital calculations and exempts community banks from Section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act if they have less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets. The bill also states that banks with less than $10 billion in assets, and total trading assets and liabilities not exceeding more than five percent of their total assets, are exempt from Volcker Rule restrictions on trading with their own capital.
    • Protections for consumers. Included in the bill are protections for veterans and active-duty military personnel such as: (i) permanently extending from nine months to one year the protection that shields military personnel from foreclosure proceedings after they leave active military service; and (ii) adding a requirement that credit reporting agencies provide free credit monitoring services and credit freezes to active-duty military personnel. The bill also addresses the creation of an identity theft protection database. Additionally, the bill instructs the CFPB to draft federal rules for the underwriting of Property Assessed Clean Energy loans (PACE loans), which would be subject to the TILA ability-to-repay requirement.
    • Changes for bank holding companies. Among other things, the bill raises the threshold for automatic designation as a SIFI from $50 billion in assets to $250 billion. The bill also subjects banks with $100 billion to $250 billion in total consolidated assets to periodic stress tests and exempts from stress test requirements entirely banks with under $100 billion in assets. Additionally, certain banks would be allowed to exclude assets they hold in custody for others—provided the assets are held at a central bank—when computing the amount such banks must hold in reserves.
    • Protections for student borrowers. The bill’s provisions include measures to prevent creditors from declaring an automatic default or accelerating the debt against a borrower on the sole basis of bankruptcy or cosigner death, and would require the removal of private student loans on credit reports after a default if the borrower completes a loan rehabilitation program and brings payments current.

    Each provision of the bill will take effect at various intervals from the date of enactment up to 18 months after.

     

    Federal Issues Federal Legislation Consumer Finance CFPB HMDA Volcker Rule Dodd-Frank SIFIs TRID U.S. House U.S. Senate S. 2155 Community Banks

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  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac update high LTV refinance ratio for one-unit, principle residences

    Federal Issues

    On May 22, Fannie Mae issued Lender Letter LL-2018-02, which updates options related to the high loan-to-value (LTV) refinance option released in September 2017 (LL-2017-05). Fannie Mae, at the direction of the Federal Housing Finance Authority and in conjunction with Freddie Mac, increased the minimum refinance LTV ratio from 95.01 percent to 97.01 percent for one-unit, principle residences. Additionally, there are no minimum credit score requirements or a maximum debt-to-income ratio for most high LTV refinances. The Lender Letter also notes that the Loan-Level Price Adjustment Matrix on Fannie Mae’s website is updated to include the high LTV refinances and provides specific loan delivery requirements.

    Freddie Mac announced the same LTV ratio change in Guide Bulletin 2018-8. The bulletin also announced, among other things, a “Credit Fee in Price” cap structure, effective on January 1, 2019, for applicable refinance mortgages. According to the bulletin, the pricing cap is designed to balance affordability to the consumer and risk to the lender. The pricing cap structure is related to the LTV ratio of the refinance and occupancy type of the property. Other updates include, (i) clarification of income stability and credit inquiries; (ii) concurrent transfers of servicing; and (iii) investor reporting change initiative.

    Federal Issues Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Refinance LTV Ratio FHFA Mortgages

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  • Federal Reserve Governor discusses Community Reinvestment Act modernization

    Federal Issues

    On May 18, Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard spoke before a community development conference in New York City to discuss the Community Reinvestment Act’s (CRA) role in supporting low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods and the importance of “refreshing” CRA regulations to accommodate for, among other things, technology-driven changes that have made banking accessible via online and mobile platforms. Brainard covered five principles for CRA modernization, including (i) updating CRA regulations to accommodate different business models that serve the needs of LMI communities while still sustaining branches; (ii) clarifying performance measures for productive CRA investment activities and finding ways to “reduce the distortions that lead to some areas becoming credit ‘hot spots’ and others credit deserts”; (iii) tailoring CRA regulations and evaluation methods to take into account banks of different sizes and business models; (iv) improving and promoting consistency and predictability across and within agencies; and (v) ensuring that the revised CRA regulations continue to “mutually reinforce[e] laws designed to promote an inclusive financial services industry” as well as “fair access to credit.”

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve CRA Fintech

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  • FHA extends foreclosure moratoriums for certain properties in Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islands

    Federal Issues

    On May 16, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) released Mortgagee Letter ML 2018-03 (ML 2018-03), which extends the 180-day foreclosure moratorium on FHA-insured properties in Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands affected by Hurricane Maria for an additional 90 days. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in March, FHA extended the moratorium an additional 60 days to May 18. The foreclosure moratorium is now in effect, for properties that meet certain conditions, until August 16.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief here.

    Federal Issues FHA Disaster Relief Mortgages Foreclosure

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  • Trump repeals CFPB auto guidance, Mulvaney praises action; CFPB to reexamine ECOA requirements

    Federal Issues

    On May 21, President Trump signed resolution S.J. Res. 57, which repeals CFPB Bulletin 2013-02 on indirect auto lending and compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). The president’s signature completes the disapproval process under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which began after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a letter in December 2017 to Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa) stating that “the Bulletin is a general statement of policy and a rule” that is subject to override under the CRA. The Senate passed the disapproval measure in April and the House approved it in the beginning of May. (Previously covered by InfoBytes here.)

    The repeal responds to concerns that the bulletin improperly attempted to regulate auto dealers, which the Dodd-Frank Act excluded from the Bureau’s authority. In a statement after the president’s signing, CFPB acting Director Mick Mulvaney praised the action and thanked the president and Congress for “reaffirming that the Bureau lacks the power to act outside of federal statutes.” He also stated that the repeal “clarifies that a number of Bureau guidance documents may be considered rules for purposes of the CRA, and therefore the Bureau must submit them for review by Congress. The Bureau welcomes such review, and will confer with Congressional staff and federal agency partners to identify appropriate documents for submission.”

    Additionally, acting Director Mulvaney announced plans to reexamine the requirements of ECOA, “[g]iven a recent Supreme Court decision distinguishing between antidiscrimination statutes that refer to the consequences of actions and those that refer only to the intent of the actor.” Although the decision is not identified, it is likely the June 2015 Supreme Court decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., which concluded that disparate impact claims are permitted under the Fair Housing Act but acknowledged some limitations on its application. (Covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert.) 

     

    Federal Issues CFPB CFPB Succession Congressional Review Act U.S. Senate U.S. House ECOA Auto Finance Dodd-Frank Fair Lending

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  • Federal agencies issue disaster relief guidance for North Carolina, Indiana, and Hawaii

    Federal Issues

    Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

    On May 16, the Department of Veterans affairs released Circular 26-18-10, requesting relief for veterans impacted by Hawaii’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Among other things, the Circular (i) encourages loan holders to extend forbearance to borrowers in distress because of the storms; (ii) requests that loan holders establish a 90-day moratorium on initiating new foreclosures on loans affected by the major disaster; and (iii) waives late charges on affected loans. Previously on May 14, the VA released Circular 26-18-08 and Circular 26-18-09, which provide for similar relief in areas affected by severe storms flooding in Hawaii and North Carolina. 

    FDIC

    On May 16, the FDIC issued FIL-28-2018 to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and facilitate recovery in areas of Indiana affected by severe storms and flooding from February 14 through March 4. The FDIC is encouraging institutions to consider, among other things, extending repayment terms and restructuring existing loans that may be affected by the natural disasters. Additionally, the FDIC notes that institutions may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) consideration for certain development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery. The FDIC also issued FIL-29-2018, which provides similar guidance for financial institutions for areas of North Carolina affected by tornadoes and severe storms on April 15.

    Find more InfoBytes disaster relief coverage here.

    Federal Issues FDIC Department of Veterans Affairs Disaster Relief CRA Mortgages

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  • FTC Commissioner calls for stricter penalties and structural remedies against recidivist companies that violate consent orders

    Federal Issues

    On May 14, FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra released a memo to FTC staff and commissioners calling for more forceful penalties and structural remedies against companies and individuals that fail to comply with consent orders. Chopra announced that a key consideration for the FTC will be “whether the proposed remedies address the underlying causes of the noncompliance.” He proposed several “structural remedies” for the FTC to consider implementing against “recidivist” companies such as (i) banning certain business practices; (ii) forcing divestiture or closure of problematic operating units; (iii) removing company executives and board directors responsible for overseeing conduct that violates an order; (iv) dismissing third-party compliance consultants who fail to detect conduct that violates an order; (v) targeting company executives and through “clawbacks, forfeitures, and reforms to executive compensation agreements;” and (vi) requiring firms to raise equity capital should corporate debt “create risks to consumers and competition in the form of an order violation.” Chopra stated that repeat offenders who “flout our orders must face severe consequences—irrespective of whether they are small-time scammers or sophisticated corporations.”

    Federal Issues FTC Enforcement Civil Money Penalties

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  • Federal Reserve Board to vote on national bank’s asset growth restriction

    Federal Issues

    On May 10, Federal Reserve Board (Board) Chairman Jerome H. Powell responded to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s request concerning a formal commitment by the Board to vote on whether a national bank’s remediation plans to improve its compliance and operational risk management program meet the terms set forth by the Board’s February 2 order to cease and desist (Order). (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) According to Powell, the decision to lift the asset growth restriction placed on the bank as part of the Order will be determined by a vote of the Board of Governors. In addressing an additional request made by Sen. Warren that the third-party review of the bank’s remedial actions required by the Order be publically released, Powell stated that when the third-party review is ready, “we will review that report to determine whether and to what extent the report can be publicly disclosed without impairing protected interests.” Powell noted that typically evaluations of that kind are not released to the public because they contain confidential supervisory information that would, if disclosed, “likely impair the effectiveness of the supervisory process,” among other things.

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve Congress Bank Compliance

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  • FCC seeks comments on interpretation of autodialer under TCPA

    Federal Issues

    On May 14, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released a notice seeking comment on the interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in light of the recent D.C. Circuit decision in ACA International v. FCC. (Covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert.) The notice requests, among other things, comment on what constitutes an “automatic telephone dialing system” (autodialer) due to the court setting aside the FCC’s 2015 interpretation of an autodialer as “unreasonably expansive.” Specifically, the FCC requests comment on how to interpret the term “capacity” under the TCPA’s definition of an autodialer (“equipment which has the capacity—(A) to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and (B) to dial such numbers”) and requests comment on the functions a device must be able to perform to qualify as an autodialer, including how “automatic” the dialing mechanism must be. Additionally, the notice seeks comment on (i) how to treat reassigned wireless numbers under the TCPA; (ii) how a party may revoke prior express consent to receive robocalls; and (iii) three pending petitions for reconsideration, including the 2016 Broadnet Declaratory Ruling and the 2016 Federal Debt Collection Rules. Comments are due by June 13 and reply comments are due by June 28.

    On May 3, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Bankers Association, and over a dozen more trade associations petitioned the FCC seeking a declaratory ruling on the definition of an autodialer under the TCPA, previously covered by InfoBytes here.

    Federal Issues TCPA Consumer Finance FCC Agency Rule-Making & Guidance D.C. Circuit Appellate

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  • FHFA and the Enterprises release Language Access Plan

    Federal Issues

    On May 10, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), in conjunction with the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA), released a Language Access Multi-Year Plan (Plan), which identifies potential solutions for the obstacles faced by limited English proficiency (LEP) borrowers in accessing mortgage credit. The Plan was developed based on research and testing conducted in 2016 and 2017 to assist the Enterprises and FHFA in identifying the issues faced by LEP borrowers throughout the mortgage cycle. Key milestones for the Enterprises and FHFA for 2018 and beyond include (i) creating a clearinghouse with centralized resources, such as translated mortgage documents; (ii) establishing a language access working group; (iii) developing a disclosure that accompanies the Preferred Language Question on the Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) (previously covered by InfoBytes here); (iv) developing glossaries that include mortgage and real estate terms; (v) in addition to Spanish, translating the URLA into additional languages; and (vi) creating a language access line to provide consumers with assistance expeditiously.

    Federal Issues FHFA Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Mortgages URLA Language Access

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