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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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  • Federal Banking Regulatory Agencies Issue Proposed Rulemaking to Simplify Regulatory Capital Rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On September 27, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, and the OCC (agencies) issued a joint notice of proposed rulemaking to simplify capital rule compliance requirements and reduce the regulatory burden in accordance with the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act (EGRPRA). Among other things, the proposed rule will “apply a simpler regulatory capital treatment” for mortgage servicing assets, certain deferred tax assets, investments in unconsolidated financial institutions, and capital issued by a consolidated subsidiary of a banking organization and held by third parties, or minority interest. To assist banks in evaluating the potential impact of the proposal, the agencies provided an estimation tool template and summary of the proposal. As previously discussed in InfoBytes, the agencies—all members of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC)—issued a report in March following an EGRPRA review, in which the agencies outlined initiatives designed to reduce regulatory burdens, particularly on community banks and savings associations. In a statement issued by FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg, commenters are encouraged to also consider methods for simplifying existing regulatory capital rules impacting community banks. Comments on the joint proposed rule are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Bank Regulatory Capital Requirements Federal Reserve FDIC OCC EGRPRA FFIEC Federal Register

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  • Agencies Issue Proposed Rulemaking to Amend CRA Regulations to Conform With HMDA Regulation Changes

    Lending

    On September 13, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, and the OCC (Agencies) issued a joint notice of proposed rulemaking to amend Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations to conform to the CFPB’s changes to Regulation C, which implements the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). The proposed amendments revise the definition of “home mortgage loan” and “consumer loan,” update the public file content requirements to comply with recent Regulation C changes, and make various technical corrections. In addition, the proposal will eliminate obsolete references to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), an initiative created by HUD to help stabilize communities contending with foreclosures and abandonment. In 2016, under CRA regulations, NSP-eligible activities were no longer considered “community development.” The Agencies anticipate that the proposed rule will become effective on January 1, 2018, when most of the changes to the HMDA rules go into effect.

    Home Mortgage Loan. Under the 2015 HMDA Rule changes, “most consumer-purpose transactions, including closed-end mortgage loans, closed-end home equity loans, home-equity lines of credit, and reverse mortgages will be reported under HMDA if they are secured by a dwelling.” To conform to the Regulation C amendments, effective January 1, 2018, for purposes of CRA regulations, a “home mortgage loan” will now mean a “closed-end mortgage loan” or an “open-end line of credit,” both of which will now apply only to loans that are secured by a dwelling. Financial institutions will now have the option to decide whether they want home improvement loans that are not secured by a dwelling, which will no longer be HMDA, considered for CRA purposes, although the Agencies note that they may choose to still evaluate some of these loans in certain circumstances “where the consumer lending is so significant a portion of an institution’s lending by activity and dollar volume of loans that the lending test evaluation would not meaningfully reflect lending performance if consumer loans were excluded.”

    Consumer Loan. The proposed rulemaking would no longer include “home equity loans” in the list of “consumer loan” categories for CRA purposes, as it will now be included within the proposed revised definition of a “home mortgage loan.”  

    Comments on the proposal will be accepted for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Lending Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Federal Reserve FDIC CFPB CRA HMDA Mortgages

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  • Second Circuit Cites Escobar, Vacates and Remands FCA Suit

    Courts

    On September 7, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order concerning a False Claims Act (FCA) case on remand from the United States Supreme Court. In its order, the three-judge panel determined that the FCA complaint should be reviewed under the higher court’s Escobar standard, which “set out a materiality standard for FCA claims that has not been applied in the present case.” See Universal Health Servs., Inc. v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016). As previously discussed in InfoBytes, Escobar holds that a misrepresentation must be material to the government’s payment decision to be actionable under the FCA and that the implied false certification theory can be a basis for liability under the FCA.

    In issuing the order, the appellate court vacated the district court’s dismissal of the relators’ complaint (which it had affirmed the first time around) and remanded for further proceedings to determine whether the bank’s certification was materially false. At issue is a qui tam suit filed against a national bank, in which plaintiffs claimed the bank violated the FCA when it certified to the Federal Reserve that the bank and its predecessors were obeying the law in order to “borrow money at favorable rates” during the financial crisis. The decision originally relied upon two requirements cited in a case overturned by Escobar—“the express-designation requirement for implied false certification claims and the particularity requirement for express false certification claims.”

    Courts False Claims Act / FIRREA Second Circuit Federal Reserve U.S. Supreme Court

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  • CFPB, Federal and State Banking Agencies Issue Guidance for Financial Institutions on Providing Disaster Relief to Consumers

    Consumer Finance

    As previously reported in InfoBytes, several federal banking agencies have already issued guidance and resources for national banks and federal savings associations aiding consumers affected by recent disasters. On September 1, the CFPB issued a statement for CFPB-supervised entities on ways to provide assistance to consumers who may be at financial risk. The list includes:

    • offering penalty-free forbearance or repayment periods with disclosed terms;
    • limiting or waiving fees and charges, including overdraft fees, ATM fees, or late fees;
    • restructuring or refinancing existing debt, including extending repayment terms;
    • easing documentation or credit-extension requirements;
    • increasing capacity for customer service hotlines, particularly those that serve consumers in languages other than English; and
    • increasing ATM daily cash withdrawal limits.

    The statement further suggests that supervised entities should utilize existing regulatory flexibility if doing so would benefit affected consumers. Included are examples from Regulations B, X, and Z. Additionally, the Bureau stated it will “consider the circumstances that supervised entities may face following a major disaster and will be sensitive to good faith efforts to assist consumers.”

    The CFPB separately published a blog post for consumers containing a financial toolkit that includes links to disaster relief organizations, ways to secure financial needs, and information on forbearance options, insurance settlements, and contractor evaluations. The CFPB also issued a warning to consumers of the increased risk of scams and fraud.

    In related news, on September 6, the Federal Reserve Board, Conference of State Bank Supervisors, FDIC, and OCC issued a joint press release for financial institutions that may be impacted by Hurricane Irma. The agencies encouraged constructive cooperation with borrowers, noting that “prudent efforts to adjust or alter terms on existing loans in affected areas should not be subject to examiner criticism.” Guidance was also issued on matters concerning Community Reinvestment Act considerations, investments, regulatory reporting requirements, publishing requirements, and temporary banking facilities.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Federal Reserve CSBS FDIC OCC CRA Lending Mortgages Disaster Relief

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  • Banking Agencies Offer Guidance Regarding Harvey Response

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 29, the OCC and FDIC each issued guidance and resources for national banks and federal savings associations aiding consumers affected by recent natural disasters.

    OCC Bulletin 2012-28. The OCC bulletin rescinds and replaces previously issued natural disaster guidance and encourages banks serving affected customers to consider the following: (i) “waiving or reducing ATM fees”; (ii) “temporarily waiving late payment fees or penalties for early withdrawal of savings”; (iii) assisting borrowers based on individual situations, when appropriate, by restructuring debt obligations or adjusting payment terms—not to generally exceed 90 days; (iv) “expediting lending decisions when possible”; (v) “originating or participating in sound loans to rebuild damaged property”; and (vi) communicating with state and federal agencies to help mitigate the effects. “Examiners will not criticize these types of responses as long as the actions are taken in a manner consistent with sound banking practices,” the OCC announced. The bulletin also provides additional resources on accounting and reporting issues and Qualified Thrift Lender requirements, among other things.

    FDIC FIL-38-2017. The FDIC financial institution letter (FIL) provides similar guidance for depository institutions assisting affected customers. FIL guidance includes the following suggestions: (i) “waiving ATM fees for customers and non-customers”; (ii) “increasing ATM daily cash withdrawal limits”; (iii) waiving items such as overdraft fees, time deposit early withdrawal penalties, availability restrictions on insurance checks, and credit card/loan balance late fees; (iv) “easing restrictions on cashing out-of-state and non-customer checks” as well as “easing credit card limits and credit terms for new loans”; (v) allowing borrowers to defer or skip some loan payments; and (vi) “delaying the submission of delinquency notices to the credit bureaus.” “Prudent efforts by depository institutions to meet customers' cash and financial needs generally will not be subject to examiner criticism,” the FIL noted. Also, the FDIC “encourages depository institutions to use non-documentary verification methods permitted by the Customer Identification Program requirement of the Bank Secrecy Act for affected customers who cannot provide standard identification documents.”

    The following agencies also issued guidance: Federal Reserve, Farm Credit Administration, and the National Credit Union Administration.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Banking Consumer Finance Bank Secrecy Act FDIC OCC Federal Reserve Farm Credit Administration NCUA Disaster Relief

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  • Federal Reserve Board Amends Policy on Payment System Risk

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 25, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) published in the Federal Register an amendment to Part II of its Policy on Payment System Risk (PSR Policy) in order to “conform to enhancements to the Reserve Banks’ same-day automated clearinghouse (ACH) service.” Posting rules set forth in the PSR Policy govern the times that credits and debits are posted to institutions’ accounts at the Federal Reserve Banks and determine an institution’s intraday account balance and whether the institution has incurred a negative balance (i.e., a “daylight overdraft”).

    Changes to the PSR Policy include the following:

    • An ACH derived returns function to enable institutions to generate returns via FedLine Web using information from the forward ACH items received through FedACH. The function is intended for institutions that lack the ability to generate returns on their own. Because the derived returns function uses information not available until the day after the processing day for forward ACH items, the Reserve Banks will provide users of the function an interim solution: a same-day paper return option for same-day forward entries greater than $10,000.
    • Clarification of posting times for paper returns and paper notifications of change of prior-dated items. Because these items are manually processed by Reserve Bank staff during normal business hours, the Board has announced that posting will now only occur at 5:00 p.m. The PSR Policy has been modified to remove the 8:30 a.m. posting time. However, depending on when the Reserve Banks receive FedLine Webs returns and FedLine Web notifications of change, these items will continue to be posted at 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

    Details regarding amendments to the “Procedures for Measuring Daylight Overdrafts,” including specific details corresponding to the 8:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. transaction posting times, are also included in the Board’s policy statement.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve ACH Electronic Transfers Federal Register

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  • FFIEC Releases Guidelines on HMDA Data Testing and Resubmission Standards

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    Earlier this week the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) issued new FFIEC Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Examiner Transaction Testing Guidelines (guidelines). Examiners will use the new guidelines to assess the accuracy of the HMDA data recorded and reported by financial institutions and determine when an institution must correct and resubmit its HMDA Loan Application Register. The guidelines will apply to data collected beginning January 1, 2018. As further explained in a CFPB blog post issued the same day, this will be the first time all federal HMDA supervisory agencies—including the CFPB, FDIC, Federal Reserve, NCUA, and the OCC—will adopt uniform guidelines, which are designed to ensure HMDA data integrity (HMDA data includes certain information financial institutions are required to collect, record, and report about their home mortgage lending activity). The purpose for collecting the HMDA data is to evaluate housing trends and issues to monitor lending patterns, assist agencies with fair lending and Community Reinvestment Act examinations, and help identify discriminatory lending practices. According to a FDIC financial institution letter (FIL-36-2017) released on August 23, the highlights of the guidelines include, among other things, a data sampling process, error threshold levels, tolerance levels for minor errors, and the ability of examiners to direct a financial institution to make appropriate change to its compliance management system to prevent recurring HMDA data errors.

    As previously discussed in InfoBytes, in 2016 the CFPB issued a request for public feedback on the resubmission of mortgage lending data reported under HMDA.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance HMDA Mortgages CFPB FDIC Federal Reserve NCUA OCC CRA

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  • Federal Banking Regulators Issue Proposal to Simplify Capital Requirements to Provide Regulatory Relief to Community Banks

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 22, the Federal Reserve, FDIC and OCC issued a proposed rule that capital requirements set to take effect in January 2018 would be suspended under a proposed rule for banking organizations not subject to the advanced approaches capital rules, such as community and midsized banks— generally those with less than $250 billion in total assets and fewer than $10 billion in foreign exposure. The federal banking regulators proposed the suspension as they develop a proposal that would simplify capital requirements to reduce regulatory burden. Banks subject to the advance approaches capital rules will still be required to comply with the capital rule requirements taking effect January 1, 2018. The proposal would pause the fully phased-in Basel III requirements regarding the treatment of mortgage servicing assets, certain deferred tax assets, investments in the capital instruments of unconsolidated financial institutions, and minority interests (see FDIC Financial Institution Letter FIL-34-2017). According to a press release issued by the FDIC, “the transitional treatment for those items is scheduled to be replaced with a different treatment on January 1, 2018.” FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas M. Hoenig issued a statement supporting the proposal but pushed for the need to provide additional relief for community banks such as predicating relief based on banking activities and tangible equity rather than asset size.

    Comments on the proposed rule are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Basel Federal Reserve FDIC OCC Mortgages Community Banks Bank Regulatory

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  • Federal Reserve Releases Paper Studying the Evolution and Forward Looking Growth of Fintech

    FinTech

    On August 1, the Federal Reserve Board released a paper on the origins and growth of financial technology, and how these “deep innovations” have the potential to affect financial stability. The paper, “FinTech and Financial Innovation: Drivers and Depth,” was authored by John Schindler and adapted from a speech prepared for Banco Central do Brasil’s XI Annual Seminar on Risk, Financial Stability and Banking. Fintech, according to Schindler’s adaptation of the Financial Stability Board’s definition, is best understood as a “technologically enabled financial innovation that could result in new business models, applications, processes, products, or services with an associated material effect on financial markets and institutions and the provision of financial services.” Schindler considers the following to fall into the definition of fintech: (i) online marketplace lending; (ii) equity crowdfunding; (iii) robo-advice; (iv) financial applications of distributed ledger technology; (v) and financial applications of machine learning (also called artificial intelligence and machine intelligence). The paper provides a deeper discussion into the following topics driving fintech innovation:

    • supply and demand factors of financial innovation, including regulatory changes and changes to financial or macroeconomic conditions, contributing to the use of technologies supporting fintech financial products and services;
    • depth of innovations such as peer to peer lending, high frequency trading, mobile banking and payments, bitcoin, and blockchain all with the “potential to have transformational effects on the financial system”; and
    • demographic demands.

    Schindler’s position is that fintech evolved, in large part, due to a combination of a number of supply and demand factors occurring in a relatively small period of time, which, as a result, drove new financial innovations.

    Fintech Federal Reserve Blockchain Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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