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  • House passes bipartisan bill granting Federal Reserve exclusive authority to implement Volcker Rule

    Federal Issues

    On April 13, the House passed H.R. 4790, the “Volcker Rule Regulatory Harmonization Act,” by a vote of 300-104. The bipartisan bill designates the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) as the exclusive regulatory authority to implement and amend rules under Section 13(b) of the Bank Holding Company Act. (Currently the Fed, the OCC, the FDIC, the SEC, and the CFTC share rulemaking authority under the rule.) H.R. 4790 also provides clear exemptions for banking entities with $10 billion or less in consolidate actions or those comprised of five percent or less of trading assets and liabilities. A similar exemption is included in the bipartisan Senate financial regulatory reform bill, S.2155, which passed the Senate in March (previously covered by InfoBytes here). According to a press release issued by the House Financial Services Committee, while H.R. 4790 does not repeal the Volcker Rule—which restricts banking entities from engaging in proprietary trading or entering into certain relationships with hedge and private equity funds—it does create a streamlined, efficient framework to provide increased regulatory clarity for entities required to comply with the rule.

    Federal Issues Federal Legislation U.S. House Volcker Rule Federal Reserve Bank Holding Company Act

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  • Houses passes two bipartisan bills to ease stress test requirements and nonbank challenges to SIFI designations

    Federal Issues

    On April 11, by a vote of 245-174, the House passed H.R. 4293, the “Stress Test Improvement Act of 2017,” which would amend the Dodd-Frank Act to modify stress test requirements for bank holding companies and certain nonbank financial companies. Among other things, H.R. 4293 prohibits the Federal Reserve Board’s (Board) to object to a company’s capital plan “on the basis of qualitative deficiencies in the company’s capital planning process” when conducting a Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR), and reduces the frequency of stress testing from semiannual to annual. As previously covered in InfoBytes, on April 10, the Board issued its own proposed changes intended to simplify the capital regime applicable to bank holding companies with $50 billion or more in total consolidated assets by integrating the Board’s regulatory capital rule and CCAR and stress test rules.

    Separately on April, 11, the House passed H.R. 4061 by a vote of 297-121. The bipartisan bill, “Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) Improvement Act of 2017,” would require FSOC to consider the appropriateness of subjecting nonbank financial companies (nonbanks) designated as systemically important to prudential standards “as opposed to other forms of regulation to mitigate the identified risks.” Among other things, the bill would also require FSOC to allow nonbanks the opportunity to meet with FSOC to present relevant information to contest the designation both during an annual reevaluation, as well as every five years after the date of final determination.

    Federal Issues Federal Legislation U.S. House Stress Test Dodd-Frank Federal Reserve FSOC SIFIs Nonbank Supervision

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  • Agencies seek OMB approval on November 2017 Call Report revisions

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 11, the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, and OCC—as members of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC)—published a joint notice and request for comment for OMB review and approval regarding revisions to the Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income (Call Reports) for financial institutions. The finalized changes modify Call Reports applicable to banks with (i) domestic offices only and less than $1 billion in total assets (FFIEC 051); (ii) domestic offices only (FFIEC 041); and (iii) domestic and foreign offices (FFIEC 031). The changes include removing or consolidating certain data items and adding a new or raising certain existing reporting thresholds in the three versions of the Call Report. Comments must be submitted by May 11. Subject to OMB approval, the revisions would take effect as of the June 30, 2018 report date. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the changes were originally proposed in November 2017.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Call Report Federal Reserve FDIC OCC FFIEC OMB

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  • Federal Reserve proposes changes to simplify capital rules for large banks

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 10, the Federal Reserve Board (Board) announced proposed changes intended to simplify the capital regime applicable to bank holding companies with $50 billion or more in total consolidated assets by integrating the Board’s regulatory capital rule (capital rule) and Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) and stress test rules. The proposal introduces a “stress capital buffer” (SCB) requirement which will replace the existing fixed capital conservation buffer requirement. Under the proposal, the size of the SCB will be based on the annual stress test and will be added to the bank’s capital requirements for the coming year. For globally systemically important banks (GSIB), a GSIB surcharge will be added to the determined SCB amount. According to the Board’s announcement, the amount of capital required for GSIBs will generally stay the same or somewhat increase, while non-GSIBs will generally see a modest decrease. Overall, the Board states that the changes would reduce the number of capital-related requirements from 24 to 14. Comments on the proposal are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Stress Test CCAR Capital Requirements Federal Reserve Federal Register

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  • FDIC proposes changes to annual stress test rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 2, the FDIC published proposed technical changes to its annual stress testing rule. Specifically, the proposed rule (i) changes the range of possible “as-of” dates used in the global market shock component to conform to changes already made by the Federal Reserve Board and the OCC to its annual stress testing regulations; (ii) extends the transition process for covered institutions with $50 billion or more in assets (“a national bank or federal savings association that becomes an over $50 billion covered institution in the fourth quarter of a calendar year will not be subject to the stress testing requirements applicable to over $50 billion covered institutions until the third year after it crosses the asset threshold”); and (iii) makes certain technical clarifications to the requirements of the FDIC’s stress testing rule. The FDIC proposed changes are intended to align with the changes made by the Federal Reserve and the OCC (see previously InfoBytes coverage here). Comments on the proposal must be received by June 1.

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

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  • Federal banking agencies raise commercial real estate appraisal threshold to $500,000

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 2, the Federal Reserve Board, the OCC, and the FDIC (agencies) issued a joint press release announcing the adoption of a final rule, which would increase the threshold for commercial real estate transactions requiring an appraisal from $250,000 to $500,000. After receiving more than 200 comments to their July 2017 joint notice of proposed rulemaking (see previous InfoBytes coverage here), the agencies increased the threshold to $500,000, rather than $400,000 as originally proposed. The rulemaking initiative responded to financial industry concerns that adjustments had not been made to the current threshold amounts, which were set 24 years ago. In accordance with the final rule, commercial real estate transactions exempted by the $500,000 threshold will no long require appraisals, but will instead be subject to an evaluation, which is not required to comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraiser Practices in order to provide a market value estimate of the real estate pledged as collateral and is not required to be completed by a state licensed or certified appraiser. However, the final rule stipulates that real-estate related transactions secured by a single one-to-four family residential property are excluded. The final rule will take effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Commercial Lending Federal Reserve OCC FDIC Federal Register

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  • Treasury releases recommendations for modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 3, the U.S. Treasury Department released recommendations to the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, and the OCC (CRA regulators) on suggestions for modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). As previously covered in a Buckley Sandler Special Alert, Treasury released a report last June indicating that the CRA should be modernized to better target statutory and regulatory responses to financial risks faced by U.S. consumers and ensure that the benefits of the CRA investments are aligned with the needs of the communities being served. Last month the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report recommending Treasury consider GAO’s findings when conducting its review. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.)

    The April memorandum of recommendations addresses findings from Treasury’s comprehensive assessment of the CRA framework and focuses on four key areas: assessment areas, examination clarity and flexibility, the examination process, and bank performance. Specifically, the recommendations include (i) updating the definitions of “geographic assessment areas to reflect the changing nature of banking arising from changing technology, customer behavior, and other factors”; (ii) improving the flexibility of the CRA examination process to increase clarity in examiner guidance and improve evaluation criteria to increase CRA rating determination transparency and effectiveness; (iii) addressing the timing and issuance of performance evaluations to increase banks’ accountability when planning CRA activity; and (iv) identifying performance incentives to encourage banks to meet the credit and deposit needs of their entire communities, including low- and moderate-income areas. The memorandum solicited input from stakeholders such as consumer advocacy groups, financial industry members, and the CRA regulators.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Department of Treasury CRA Federal Reserve OCC FDIC Examination GAO

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  • FFIEC finalizes November 2017 Call Report revisions

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On March 30, the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, and OCC—as members of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC)—announced finalized plans to reduce data reporting requirements and other regulatory requirements associated with the Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income (Call Reports) for financial institutions. According to the FFIEC, the finalized changes modify Call Reports applicable to banks with (i) domestic offices only and less than $1 billion in total assets (FFIEC 051); (ii) domestic offices only (FFIEC 041); and (iii) domestic and foreign offices (FFIEC 031). The changes include removing or consolidating certain data items and adding a new or raising certain existing reporting thresholds in the three versions of the Call Report. The changes were originally proposed in November 2017 (previously covered by InfoBytes here) and are effective June 30.

    In January, the FFIEC also finalized other burden-reducing Call Report revisions based on a June 2017 proposal, as previously covered by InfoBytes.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve FDIC OCC Call Report

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  • Federal Reserve orders Chinese bank to correct BSA/AML controls

    Financial Crimes

    On March 12, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) entered into a consent order with a Chinese bank (bank) and its New York branch (branch) in connection with alleged Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) violations. According to the Fed’s order, a recent examination identified “significant deficiencies” in the branch’s BSA/AML compliance and risk management controls. The consent order requires, among other things, the bank and branch submit within 60 days: (i) a written governance plan to achieve compliance with BSA/AML requirements; (ii) a system to identify and assess risks associated with all products and customers, including “politically exposed persons”; (iii) an enhanced customer due diligence program plan; and (iv) a compliance program to ensure accurate suspicious activity monitoring and reporting. The bank and branch are further required to engage an independent third party acceptable to the Fed to review their dollar-clearing transaction activity in the second half of 2016 “to determine whether suspicious activity involving high-risk customers or transactions” was properly flagged. The order imposes no financial penalty.

    Financial Crimes Federal Reserve Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Bank Compliance International

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  • Fed issues proposal to amend internal appeals process

    Federal Issues

    On February 27, the Federal Reserve Board (Board) published proposed amendments to its guidelines on the internal appeals process for institutions that receive an adverse material supervisory determination. According to the proposal, the goal of the amendments is to improve and expedite the appeals process, which was established in 1995 and applies to any material supervisory determination, including matters related to an examination or inspection, which does not have an alternative, independent appeals process. The current guidelines allow for an institution to file a written appeal, which will be reviewed by a panel selected by the Federal Reserve Bank (Bank). The panel is made up of persons who are not employed by the Bank and have no affiliation with the material supervisory determination in question. Institutions also have further appeal rights to the Bank’s president and then a member of the Board. Proposed changes to the process include:

    • reducing the number of appeal levels to two and providing a separate independent review at both appeal levels;
    • establishing an accelerated process for appeals that relate to institutions becoming “critically undercapitalized” under the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework as a result of the material supervisory determination, in order to ensure the review occurs within the required PCA timeframe; and
    • instituting specific standards of review at both appeals stages. The first panel of review would be required to review the documentation “as if no determination had previously been made.” The final panel, made up primarily of Board staff, would review whether the initial appeals determination is “reasonable and supported by a preponderance of the evidence in the record,” and the decision of the final review panel would be made public.

    The proposed amendments also contain changes to the Board’s Ombudsman policy, which, among other things would allow the Ombudsman—if requested by the institution or Federal Reserve personnel—to attend hearings or deliberations relating to the appeal as an observer. The proposal also would formalize many of the Ombudsman’s current activities, including receiving all complaints related to the Board’s supervisory process and facilitating informal resolution of institution’s concerns.

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve Bank Supervision Compliance

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