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  • OCC Proposes Changes to Annual Stress Test Rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 27, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) issued proposed changes to its “stress test” rules for covered financial institutions required by the Dodd-Frank Act. Specifically, the proposal would, (i) extend the window by three months to allow the OCC to choose an appropriate “as-of” date in the trading and counterparty default component of the stress test (intended to conform with recent rule changes by the Federal Reserve); and (ii) extend the transition process for certain banks and savings associations that cross the $50 billion asset threshold before stress testing requirements are applicable. 

    Comments for the proposed changes must be received on or before December 26.

    In addition to this proposal, on October 6, the Fed, FDIC, and the OCC, issued a joint notice and request for comment, which proposes to combine the agencies’ three separate, identical stress test report forms into a single new Federal Financial Institutional Examination Council (FFIEC) report (FFIEC 016) under the Dodd-Frank Act (previously covered by InfoBytes here).

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC CCAR Stress Test Federal Reserve Dodd-Frank

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  • OCC Acting Comptroller Shares Thoughts on Opportunities to Reduce Regulatory Burdens

    Federal Issues

    On October 5, OCC Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika spoke before the 2017 Midsize Bank Coalition of America Chief Risk Officer Meeting to discuss opportunities for regulatory reform.

    According to Noreika, one area of concern relates to the adverse effect arbitrary asset thresholds pose to the annual stress test requirements required under the Dodd-Frank Act because the burden “is not commensurate with the systemic risks presented by an institution.” Given the amount of diversity in the business models of banks who have around $10 billion in assets, “regulators need the ability and authority to tailor their supervision to the unique risks presented by individual banks.” Noreika suggested an approach that would give federal banking agencies the authority to tailor statutory stress testing requirements without an asset threshold, thus reducing the risk of banks growing beyond the threshold to offset increased costs or staying below the threshold to avoid unwelcome scrutiny.

    Noreika also urged for interagency harmonization of guidance and policies to avoid conflicting regulatory guidance when addressing cybersecurity issues.

    Additionally, Noreika addressed the CFPB’s arbitration rule as an example of the need to work “to ensure regulation is balanced and appropriate by speaking up when we see proposed rules that may adversely affect the business of banking, have systemic effects, or result in perverse unintended consequences.” Noreika stated that prior to the publication of the final arbitration rule, the OCC requested access to the data the CFPB used to develop and support the rule in order to conduct an independent review. However, it was not until after the rule was published that the CFPB made the data available. According to OCC findings, the rule will adversely impact consumers by increasing costs. Community banks, Noreika noted, will also bear the burden of increased legal costs from defending lawsuits.

    Finally, Noreika commented that banks continue to face challenges when trying to implement Bank Secrecy Act compliance programs and adapt to new requirements under TRID, HMDA, and the Military Lending Act.

    Federal Issues Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Bank Compliance Dodd-Frank Stress Test Arbitration CFPB Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

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  • Federal Banking Agencies Issue Request for Comment on Proposed Combined Dodd-Frank Stress Test Report

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 6, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed), the FDIC, and the OCC (agencies)—all members of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC)—issued a joint notice and request for comment on a proposal to combine the agencies’ three separate, identical stress test report forms into a single new FFIEC report (FFIEC 016) under the Dodd-Frank Act. In addition to replacing the Fed’s FR Y–16, the FDIC’s DFAST 10–50, and the OCC’s DFAST 10–50B, a limited number of revisions would be made to align FFIEC 016 with “recent burden-reducing changes to the FFIEC 031 and FFIEC 041 Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income and the Fed’s FR Y–9C Consolidated Financial Statements for Holding Companies.” Under the proposal, institutions who have a Legal Entity Identifier will also be asked to include it on the report form.

    FFIEC 016 respondents are depository institutions and holding companies with at least $10 billion but less than $50 billion in total consolidated assets. The proposed FFIEC 016 will impact stress test reports with an as-of date of December 31, 2017, and have a submission deadline of July 31, 2018. Comments on the joint notice and request for comment must be received by December 5, 2017.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FFIEC Federal Reserve OCC FDIC Dodd-Frank Stress Test

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  • District Judge Denies Student Loan Servicer’s Motion to Dismiss, Rules CFPB is Constitutional

    Courts

    On August 4, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied a motion to dismiss brought by a student loan servicer, ruling that the CFPB is constitutional, and that it has the authority to act against companies without first adopting the rules used to define a specific practice as unfair, deceptive, or abusive. Further, the court found that the Bureau’s complaint is “adequately pleaded.” As previously reported in InfoBytes, the CFPB filed a complaint in January of this year, contending that the student loan servicer systematically created obstacles to repayment and cheated many borrowers out of their rights to lower repayments, causing them to pay much more than they had to for their loans.

    Citing numerous precedents, including several which have already examined the issue of the CFPB’s constitutionality, the court disposed of several arguments raised by the student loan servicer, finding that:

    • There is no merit in the argument that the “CFPB lack[ed] statutory authority to bring an enforcement action without first engaging in rulemaking to declare a specific act or practice unfair, deceptive, or abusive,” because under the provisions of Title X of Dodd-Frank, the CFPB has the authority to declare something as “unlawful” both through rulemaking and litigation.
    • The CFPB isn’t outside the bounds of the Constitution, in part because its provision making it difficult for the President to remove the CFPB’s director isn’t any more burdensome than those of other agencies, such as the FTC. By recognizing this, and that the CFPB director “is not insulated by a second layer of tenure and is removable directly by the President,” the court ruled that the “Bureau’s structure is not constitutionally deficient.”
    • The funding method utilized by the Bureau has parallels in other federal agencies and does not affect presidential authority, stating that “although the CFPB is funded outside of the appropriations process, Congress has not relinquished all control over the agency’s funding because it remains free to change how the Bureau is funded at any time.” The court therefore found that the President’s constitutional powers have not been curtailed.

    The court dismissed the student loan servicer’s assertion that it is unable to “reasonably prepare a response” due to the vague and ambiguous nature of the complaint. Rather, the court argues that the Bureau’s complaint provides enough “multiple specific examples” to warrant a response by way of an answer.

    Courts Student Lending CFPB Dodd-Frank Litigation UDAAP

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  • FHFA Reports Results of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Annual Stress Tests

    Federal Issues

    One August 7, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) published a report providing the results of the fourth annual stress tests conducted by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs). In March 2017, the FHFA issued orders directing the GSEs to report the results of the required Dodd-Frank Act stress test to enable financial regulators to determine whether the companies have sufficient capital to support operations in adverse or severely adverse economic conditions. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) According to the report, Dodd-Frank Act Stress Tests Results – Severely Adverse Scenario—which provides modeled projections on possible ranges of future financial results and does not define the entirety of possible outcomes—the GSEs will need to draw between $34.8 billion and $99.6 billion in incremental Treasury aid under a “severely adverse” economic crisis, depending on how deferred tax assets are treated. The losses would leave $158.4 billion to $223.2 billion available to the companies under their current funding commitment agreements. Notably, the projected bailout need is lower than what the FHFA reported last year, which ranged between $49.2 billion and $125.8 billion.

    Federal Issues Lending Mortgages Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Stress Test Dodd-Frank FHFA

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  • OCC, Federal Reserve Solicit Public Comments on Volcker Rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 2, the OCC announced it is seeking public comments on ways to improve regulations implementing the Volcker Rule, however the agency stressed it is not seeking comment on changes to the underlying statute. The draft notice outlines issues with the rule, which bans banks from engaging in proprietary trading and restricts their ownership of certain funds, explaining that there is “broad recognition that the final rule [implementing the Volcker Rule] should be improved both in design and in application.” Referring to the Treasury Department’s June 2017 report, which identified problems with the design of the final rule and offered recommendations for revision, the OCC’s notice asked for suggestions on how to improve implementation with the understanding that any revisions would require a joint undertaking by the OCC, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the FDIC, and consultation with the SEC and the CFTC. Specifically, the notice seeks comments in the following four areas: (i) scope of entities subject to the final rule; (ii) proprietary trading prohibitions; (iii) covered fund prohibitions; and (iv) requirements for compliance program and metrics reporting.

    Comments must be received within 45 days from publication in the Federal Register.

    Separately, on August 2, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Fed) issued a notice seeking comment on whether to extend for three years the Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Disclosure Requirements Associated with Proprietary Trading and Certain Interests in and Relationships with Covered Funds (Regulation VV).  Regulation VV imposes information reporting requirements on certain banks engaged in significant trading activities, to ensure compliance with the Volcker Rule. Among other things, the Fed invited comment on whether the proposed collection of information is necessary and has practical utility, and ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the collected information, while minimizing the burden on respondents. In its notice, the Fed stated that the information collection “is required in order for covered entities to obtain the benefit of engaging in certain types of proprietary trading or investing in, sponsoring, or having certain relationships with a hedge fund or private equity fund, under the restrictions set forth in [the Volcker Rule].”

    Comments must be received by October 2, 2017.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Department of Treasury OCC Volcker Rule Dodd-Frank Federal Register Securities Federal Reserve

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  • CFPB Issues Bulletin Warning Service Providers About Pay-By-Phone Fees

    Consumer Finance

    On July 31, the CFPB issued a bulletin to warn service providers that misleading consumers about pay-by-phone fees may potentially be a violation of Dodd-Frank’s prohibition on unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices. The Bureau also provided guidance regarding its expectations for UDAAP and FDCPA compliance when assessing pay-by-phone fees. According to the bulletin, the CFPB noted several instances where consumers were either not informed up front of the fees that came with paying expenses over the phone or were not offered lower-cost alternatives. The Bureau cited several public enforcement actions, in which it alleged, among other things, that entities (i) misrepresented available payment options or gave the impression that a fee was required to make a payment by phone, when the only purpose of the fee was to expedite the phone payment; (ii) failed to disclose phone pay fees, thus creating the impression that there was no service fee; or (iii) lacked monitoring and oversight programs to deter this type of misleading behavior. The Bureau further encouraged service providers to consult a 2016 bulletin issued to discuss “detecting and preventing consumer harm from production incentives” to examine whether existing or future provider production incentive programs might “steer borrowers to certain payment types or to avoid disclosures,” which it says increases the potential risk for UDAAP.

    Consumer Finance CFPB UDAAP Debt Collection Dodd-Frank FDCPA

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  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Testifies Before House Financial Services Committee, Provides Overview of Tailored Regulatory Approach

    Federal Issues

    On July 27, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing entitled “The Annual Testimony of the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of the International Financial System.” Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tx.) opened the full committee hearing asserting that “the unaccountable Washington bureaucracy must finally be held accountable, [and we] must address the regulatory cost of doing business in the U.S. under Dodd-Frank.” Rep. Hensarling commended President Trump’s Executive Order establishing the core principles for regulating the U.S. financial system and called it “vitally important to us all.”

    Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin was the only witness at the June 27 hearing, offering testimony and answering questions concerning, among other things, (i) praise for the Committee’s passage of the Financial CHOICE act; (ii) tailoring capital requirements for small, mid-sized, and region banks; (iii) identifying a “single, lead regulator” to reduce regulatory overlap; (iv) remedying the Volcker Rule; (v) making the CFPB more accountable through statutory changes; (vi) reforming housing finance, noting that the current system, “in which the GSEs remain in perpetual Federal Housing Finance Agency conservatorship . . .  is not sustainable and leaves taxpayers at risk”; and (vii) addressing tax reform.

    Federal Issues Department of Treasury House Financial Services Committee Dodd-Frank Financial CHOICE Act

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  • OCC Acting Comptroller Reiterates Request for CFPB Arbitration Rule Data

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 17, OCC Acting Comptroller Keith Noreika delivered a letter to the CFPB reiterating his request to review the supporting data used to develop the Bureau’s final arbitration rule prohibiting the use of mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses in certain contracts for consumer financial products and services. While the CFPB issued assurances that the final rule would not impact the safety or soundness of the financial banking system, Noreika argued that because the Bureau is not a “safety and soundness prudential regulator,” the OCC, as the prudential regulator for the federal banking system, should be allowed to review the underlying data to address potential concerns under Section 1023 in Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act. In response, CFPB Director Richard Cordray stated his team is in the process of gathering the requested data but questioned the “plausible basis” for Noreika’s claim that the final arbitration rule could pose a safety and soundness issue.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Arbitration CFPB OCC Prudential Regulators Dodd-Frank

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  • CFPB Extends Comment Deadline for Small Business Lending Request for Information

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 12, the CFPB issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing that, in response to a request from 13 industry trade associations for an additional comment period extension, the Bureau has extended the comment period of the “Request for Information Regarding the Small Business Lending Market” for another 60 days. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the Bureau is seeking responses to its questions regarding the small business lending market and how the implementation of Section 1071 Dodd-Frank Act will affect small business financing. The Bureau also hopes to receive feedback on privacy concerns related to the Section 1071 disclosures. In light of the extension, comments must now be received by September 14.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues CFPB Dodd-Frank Small Business Lending Federal Register

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