Agencies Release CRA Asset-Size Threshold Adjustments

On December 22, the Federal Reserve, the OCC, and the FDIC jointly announced the adjusted thresholds for asset-size used to define small and intermediate small banks and savings associations under the Community Reinvestment Act. Effective January 1, 2016, a small bank or savings association will be defined as an institution that, as of December 31 of either of the past two calendar years, had assets of less than $1.216 billion. An intermediate small bank or intermediate small savings association will be defined as an institution with at least $304 million and less than $1.216 billion in assets as of December 31 of either of the past two calendar years. The agencies published the annual adjustments in the Federal Register on December 29, 2015.

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District Court Invalidates NYC Ordinance Making Banks Service Under-Served Areas as Requirement to Receive Municipal Deposits

On August 7, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment for the New York Bankers Association (NYBA) in a case challenging the City of New York’s Local Law 38, entitled the Responsible Banking Act (RBA). New York Bankers Ass’n, Inc. v. City of New York, No. 15-CV- 4001, 2015 WL 4726880 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 7, 2015). Passed in 2012, the RBA imposes various requirements on banks operating within New York City, including, as a prerequisite to receiving certain municipal deposits, requirements to document efforts to provide affordable housing, access to credit for small businesses, and other services. The court held that the RBA was preempted both by (i) federal law (including the National Bank Act, the Community Reinvestment Act, and OCC regulations) because, among other reasons, the RBA “stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress”; and (ii) New York state law, because the New York Banking Law “evinces an intent to preempt the field of regulating state-chartered banks.” Thus, the RBA was “void in its entirety.”

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SEC Issues Report on Examination Findings of Credit Rating Agencies

On December 23, the SEC released its annual staff report on the findings of examinations of credit rating agencies registered as nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSROs). As required by the Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC must examine each NRSRO at least once per year and provide a report summarizing its findings. As a result of the examinations, the staff recommended NRSROs improve a number of areas, including (i) the use of affiliates or third-party contractors in the credit rating process, (ii) management of conflicts of interest related to the rating business operations, and (iii) adherence to policies and procedures for determining or reviewing credit ratings. In addition, the agency issued a separate report to Congress on the state of competition, transparency, and conflicts of interest among NRSROs.

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Banking Agencies Issue Revised CRA Exam Procedures

On April 18, the OCC, FDIC, and Federal Reserve Board released revised Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) examination procedures applicable to institutions with total assets greater than $1.202 billion as of December 31 of either of the previous two calendar years. The procedures incorporate revisions to the CRA interagency questions and answers issued in November 2013. Those revisions generally were intended to: (i) clarify how the agencies consider community development activities that benefit a broader statewide or regional area that includes an institution’s assessment area; (ii) provide guidance related to CRA consideration of, and documentation associated with, investments in nationwide funds; (iii) clarify the consideration of certain community development services, such as service on a community development organization’s board of directors; (iv) address the treatment of loans or investments to organizations that, in turn, invest those funds and use only a portion of the income from their investment to support a community development purpose; and (v) clarify that community development lending performance is always a factor considered in a large institution’s lending test rating.

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Prudential Regulators Address Impact Of QM Lending On CRA Ratings

On December 13, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, the OCC, and the NCUA issued an interagency statement to clarify safety and soundness expectations and CRA considerations in light of the CFPB’s ability-to-repay/qualified mortgage rule. The statement emphasizes that institutions may originate both QM and non-QM loans based on their business strategies and risk appetites and that residential mortgage loans “will not be subject to safety-and-soundness criticism based solely on their status as QMs or non-QMs.” Acknowledging that some institutions may choose to originate only or predominantly QM loans, the agencies state that, consistent with recent guidance concerning the fair lending implications of QM-only lending, “the agencies that conduct CRA evaluations do not anticipate that institutions’ decision[s] to originate only QMs, absent other factors, would adversely affect their CRA evaluations.”

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