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  • CFPB Succession: Kraninger testifies before Senate Banking Committee; Bureau nominates Paul Watkins to lead Office of Innovation

    Federal Issues

    On July 19, the Senate Banking Committee held a confirmation hearing for Kathy Kraninger on her nomination as permanent director of the CFPB. Prior to the hearing, the White House issued a fact sheet asserting that “Kraninger has the management skills and policy background necessary to reform and refocus the Bureau.” In her written testimony Kraninger shared four initial priorities: (i) the Bureau should be fair and transparent, utilize a cost benefit analysis to facilitate competition, and effectively use notice and comment rulemaking to ensure the proper balance of interests; (ii) the Bureau should work closely with other regulators and states to “take aggressive action against bad actors who break the rules by engaging in fraud and other illegal activities”; (iii) data collection will be limited to what is needed and required under the law and measures will be taken to ensure the protection of the data; and (iv) the Bureau will be held accountable to the public for its actions, including its expenditure of resources.

    Chairman of the Committee Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, remarked in his opening statement that he hoped Kraninger “will be more accountable to senators on this Committee than Director Cordray was” but that he had “the utmost confidence that she is well-prepared to lead the Bureau in enforcing federal consumer financial laws and protecting consumers in the financial marketplace.” Conversely, Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., released a staff report prior to the hearing detailing Kraninger’s tenure at OMB and identifying her participation in several alleged management failures in the current administration.

    During the hearing, Kraninger received questions covering a range of topics, including whether she would appeal last month’s ruling by a federal judge in New York that the CFPB’s structure was unconstitutional. (See previous InfoBytes coverage on the ruling here.) Kraninger responded that constitutionality questions are “not for me in this position to answer.” However, Kraninger did comment that “Congress, through [the] Dodd-Frank Act, gave the Bureau incredible powers and incredible independence from both the president and the Congress in its structure. . . . My focus is on running the agency as Congress established it, but certainly working with members of Congress. I’m very open to changes in that structure that will make the agency more accountable and more transparent.” Kraninger also commended recent efforts by the OCC to encourage banks to make small-dollar loans, discussed plans to consult Bureau staff on the use of the disparate impact theory in enforcement, and stated she will seek to promote the agency’s regulatory views through formal rulemaking instead of through enforcement.

    On July 18, acting Director of the CFPB Mick Mulvaney announced the selection of Paul Watkins to lead the Bureau’s new Office of Innovation. The Office of Innovation—a recent addition to the Bureau—will focus on policies for facilitating innovation, engage with entrepreneurs and regulators, and review outdated or unnecessary regulations. Specifically, the Office of Innovation will replace what was previously known as Project Catalyst, which was—as previously discussed in InfoBytes—responsible for facilitating innovation in consumer financial services. Prior to joining the Bureau, Watkins worked for the Arizona Attorney General and helped launch the first state regulatory sandbox for fintech innovation. (See previous InfoBytes coverage on Arizona’s regulatory sandbox here.) Earlier in May, Mulvaney announced at a luncheon hosted by the Women in Housing & Finance that the Bureau is working to build its own regulatory sandbox program, and last year the agency took steps to make it easier for emerging technology companies to comply with federal rules by issuing its first “no action letter.”

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession Fintech Regulatory Sandbox Senate Banking Committee CFPB Enforcement

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  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issue disaster relief policy reminders and updates

    Federal Issues

    On July 18, Fannie Mae, in Lender Letter LL-2018-04, and Freddie Mac, in an industry letter released the same day, reminded servicers of requirements that continue to be in effect for servicing mortgages impacted by eligible disasters. Specifically, Fannie Mae provides information on (i) reimbursements related to insured loss repair inspection costs; (ii) disaster-impacted inspections; (iii) the Extend Modification for Disaster Relief policy—developed in conjunction with Freddie Mac for post-disaster forbearance mortgage loan modifications; and (iv) the disbursement of hazard loss draft proceeds. Freddie Mac also reminds servicers of property inspection reimbursement requirements and changes to insurance loss settlement distributions.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief here.

    Federal Issues Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Disaster Relief Mortgage Servicing

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  • Fannie Mae updates borrower-initiated mortgage insurance termination requirements

    Federal Issues

    On July 18, Fannie Mae released Lender Letter LL-2018-03 (Letter) to provide updates to requirements for single-family servicers related to borrower-initiated conventional mortgage insurance (MI) termination requests. The Letter covers requirements for borrower-initiated MI terminations and outlines various processes for verifying current property values. Among other things, the Letter also incorporates into the Servicing Guide changes previously announced in LL-2017-09 (see previous InfoBytes coverage here), which allows for temporary forbearance mortgage loan modification for servicers with mortgage loans affected by recent disasters. Fannie Mae encourages servicers to implement the new requirements on January 1, 2019, but will not require them to do so until March 1, 2019, unless otherwise noted.

    Federal Issues Fannie Mae Mortgage Insurance Servicing Guide Disaster Relief

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  • Federal Reserve vice chairman discusses tailoring prudential standards to account for complexity and risk

    Federal Issues

    On July 18, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal K. Quarles spoke before the American Bankers Association’s conference in Salt Lake City to discuss ways the Fed can tailor the supervision and regulation of prudential standards for financial institutions with assets between $100 billion to $250 billion. According to Quarles, U.S. regulators should consider scaling back resolution plan requirements and tailor regulation to risk. In discussing resolution plans, also known as living wills, Quarles noted, among other things, that the Fed “should consider limiting the scope of application of resolution planning requirements to only the largest, most complex, and most interconnected banking firms because their failure poses the greatest spillover risks to the broader economy.” Furthermore, banks that do not qualify as global systemically important banks (G-SIBs) should also be granted some measure of regulatory relief, Quarles stated. Existing G-SIB tests and surcharge indicators could be used for measuring cross-border activity, short-term wholesale funding, as well as nonbank activities while the Fed determines adjustments for less complex banks between the $100 billion and $250 billion range. “This review should ensure that our regulations continue to appropriately increase in stringency as the risk profiles of firms increase, consistent with our previously stated tailoring goals and the new legislation,” Quarles said. “The supervision and regulatory framework for these firms should reflect that there are material differences between those firms that qualify as U.S. G-SIBs and those that do not.” Moreover, according to Quarles, while the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act mandates an 18-month deadline for regulators to issue proposed changes, the Fed plans to “move much more rapidly than this.”

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve Bank Regulatory Stress Test S. 2155

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  • Federal Reserve chair delivers semi-annual congressional testimony, discusses U.S. financial conditions and regulatory relief act

    Federal Issues

    On July 17, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testified before the Senate Banking Committee and spoke the next day before the House Financial Services Committee. In his semi-annual congressional testimony, Powell presented the Federal Reserve’s Monetary Policy Report, and discussed the current economic situation, job market, inflation levels, and the federal funds rate. Powell stressed, among other things, that interest rates and financial conditions remain favorable to growth and that the financial system remains in a good position to meet household and business credit needs. Chairman of the Committee, Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, remarked in his opening statement that, while recent economic developments are encouraging, an effort should be made to focus on reviewing, improving, and tailoring regulations to be consistent with the recently passed Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act S.2155/P.L. 115-174 (the Act). During the hearing, Powell confirmed that the Fed plans to implement provisions of the Act as soon as possible. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) When questioned by Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, about the direction the Fed plans to take to address stress test concerns, Powell responded that the Fed is committed to using stress tests, particularly for the largest, most systemically important institutions, and that going forward, the Fed wants to strengthen the tests and make the process more transparent. Powell also indicated the Fed intends to “publish for public comment the range of factors [the Fed] can consider” when applying prudential standards. Powell also stated that he believes government-sponsored-enterprise reform would help the economy in the long term.

    When giving testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, Powell also commented that cryptocurrency does not currently impair the Fed’s work on monetary policy and that the Fed will not seek jurisdiction over cryptocurrency and instead will defer to the SEC’s oversight as well as Treasury’s lead to identify the right regulatory structure.

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve SEC Cryptocurrency Stress Test Consumer Finance S. 2155 Senate Banking Committee House Financial Services Committee

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  • FDIC's FILs address Call Report burden reductions, EGRRCPA statutory amendment changes

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 17, the FDIC issued Financial Institution Letter FIL-40-2018 reminding FDIC-supervised banks, savings associations, and community institutions that revisions to all three versions of the Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income (Call Reports) are effective as of the June 30 reporting date. The finalized changes modified Call Reports FFIEC 031, FFIEC 041, and FFIEC 051. Starting this quarter, institutions with consolidated total assets of at least $100 billion with no foreign offices are now required to use FFIEC 031 instead of FFIEC 041. In addition, the FDIC released supplemental submission instructions for institutions (see FIL-39-2018) and also addressed two reporting requirement changes made by the enactment of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act S.2155/P.L. 115-174 that took effect immediately: (i) acquisition, development, or construction loans considered high volatility commercial real estate loans are subject to risk weighting with certain exemptions; and (ii) qualifying institutions may exclude a capped amount of reciprocal deposits from being treated as brokered deposits. Second quarter Call Reports are due July 30.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues FDIC Call Report S. 2155

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  • House passes bipartisan package of securities and banking bills focusing on capital market regulations

    Federal Issues

    On July 17, the House passed S. 488, the “JOBS and Investor Confidence Act of 2018” (Act) by a vote of 406 to 4. The package of 32 securities and banking bills now comprises Senate bill S. 488, which previously contained an amendment to the Securities Act Rule 230.701(e) and was included as part of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act S.2155/P.L. 115-174. The Act focuses on capital market regulations and contains many capital formation provisions designed to, among other things, (i) expand access for smaller companies attempting to raise capital; (ii) reduce regulation for smaller companies such as providing federal stress test relief for nonbanks; (iii) revise crowdfunding provisions to allow for crowdfunding vehicles and the registration of crowdfunding vehicle advisers; (iv) exempt low-revenue issuers from Sarbanes-Oxley Act Section 404; (v) grant banks safe harbor when they keep open certain accounts and transactions at the request of law enforcement; and (vi) clarify various rules, review current securities laws for inefficiencies, and establish additional procedures focusing on virtual currency and money laundering efforts. Additional changes would amend a section of the Exchange Act governing SEC registration of individuals acting as brokers or dealers. The Fair Credit Reporting Act would also be amended to permit entities—including HUD—the ability to furnish data to consumer reporting agencies regarding an individual’s history of on-time payments with respect to a lease, or contracts for utilities and telecommunications services, provided the information about a consumer's usage of the service relates to payment by the consumer for such service or other terms of the provision of that service. S. 488 would also allow certain non-profits conducting charitable mortgage loan transactions to use forms required under the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule, and require the director of the CFPB to issue such regulations as may be necessary to implement those amendments. S. 488 now returns to the Senate for further action.

    Federal Issues U.S. House Federal Legislation Securities FCRA SEC Virtual Currency Stress Test Consumer Finance CFPB TRID Mortgages S. 2155

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  • Federal Reserve issues enforcement actions against New York branch of Pakistani bank, former bank employee

    Federal Issues

    On July 12, the Federal Reserve Board released an enforcement action taken against a Pakistani bank’s New York branch concerning deficiencies in the branch’s Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) compliance program. Under the terms of the written agreement, the branch is required to (i) submit a written governance plan to strengthen the board of director’s oversight of BSA/AML compliance; (ii) retain an independent third party to conduct a BSA/AML compliance review; (iii) submit a revised, written compliance program that complies with BSA/AML requirements; (iii) submit an enhanced, written customer due diligence program plan; and (iv) submit a revised program to ensure compliant suspicious activity monitoring and reporting. On a parallel basis, the Federal Reserve terminated an enforcement action taken against the branch in 2013.

    The Federal Reserve also issued a separate enforcement action against a former bank employee for engaging in unsafe or unsound banking practices by concealing an unreconciled balance using improper accounting practices. The consent order of prohibition prohibits the former employee from, among other things, participating in any manner in the conduct of the affairs of any insured depository institution, holding company, or subsidiary of an insured depository institution.

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve Enforcement Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Bank Compliance

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  • Federal Reserve submits annual report to Congress on credit card profitability of depository institutions

    Federal Issues

    In July, the Federal Reserve Board submitted its annual report to Congress on the profitability of credit cards as required by Section 8 of the Fair Credit and Charge Card Disclosure Act of 1988. The Report to Congress on the Profitability of Credit Card Operations of Depository Institutions (the Report) focuses on credit card banks with assets exceeding $200 million meeting the following criteria: (i) more than 50 percent of assets are loans made to individual consumers; and (ii) 90 percent or more of consumer lending involves credit cards or related plans. As of December 31, 2017, the 12 banks that met this criteria accounted for almost 50 percent of outstanding credit card balances on the books of depository institutions. According to the Report, credit card loans have replaced other methods of borrowing, such as closed-end installment loans and personal lines of credit. In the aggregate, “consumers carried slightly over $1 trillion in outstanding balances on their revolving accounts as of the end of 2017, about 6.1 percent higher than the level at the end of 2016.” While the Report notes the difficulty with tracking credit card profitability due to revisions in accounting rules and other factors, it indicates that delinquency rates and charge-off rates for credit card loans saw a modest increase in 2017 across all banks but remained below their historical averages.

    The Report also discusses recent trends in credit card pricing practices. Data from a survey that studied a sample of credit card issuers found that the average credit card interest rate across all accounts is about 13 percent, while the average interest rate on accounts that assessed interest was closer to 15 percent. The Report notes that, “while average interest rates paid by consumers have moved in a relatively narrow band over the past several years,” there exists is a great deal of variability across credit card plans and borrowers, reflecting various card features and the risk profile of the borrower.

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve Consumer Finance Congress Credit Cards

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  • Fannie Mae updates Reverse Mortgage Loan Servicing Manual

    Federal Issues

    On July 11, Fannie Mae issued RVS-2018-02, which updates the Reverse Mortgage Loan Servicing Manual to include changes related to REO Hazard Insurance Coverage Requirements for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) mortgages. Specifically, the update requires a servicer to place a property insurance policy on acquired property up to the HUD foreclosure appraisal amount or deed-in-lieu property valuation amount, in accordance with HUD guidelines. If the servicer is unable to obtain either of these valuation amounts, the servicer must place coverage up to the unpaid principal balance amount. Servicers are required to implement the changes no later than October 1 for new and existing HECM properties in REO inventory.

    Federal Issues Fannie Mae Mortgages Reverse Mortgages Mortgage Servicing HECM

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