Recently, the Massachusetts Division of Banks released its annual report for year-end 2015. The report provides a broad overview of the Division’s 2015 efforts related to, among other things, foreclosure relief, cybersecurity protection, mortgage and depository supervision, and corporate transactions. Notable 2015 updates outlined in the report include the Division (i) approving 24 new mortgage companies in 2015, which resulted in 497 mortgage brokers and lenders being licensed to do business in Massachusetts; (ii) expanding its coordination, cooperation, and participation with the CFPB, Multi-state Mortgage Committee, and the New England Regional Mortgage Committee through sharing information in concurrent examinations of non-depository mortgage entities; and (iii) increasing oversight of the financial industry’s information technology environment, including collaborating with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors to host an event for Massachusetts bankers about common cybersecurity situations. The report includes objectives for 2016, including such as implementing and enforcing “consumer protection laws and regulations while providing consumers the information they need to know their rights and make informed financial decisions.”
On August 2, the CSBS announced that it will co-host with the Federal Reserve System the fourth annual “Community Banking in the 21st Century” research and policy conference on September 28 and 29. The two-day event will take place in St. Louis and will feature, among other things, the release of the 2016 Community Banking in the 21st Century national survey and a panel discussion of its findings. Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell and Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans are among the speakers scheduled to deliver keynote speeches.
On June 1, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors announced that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) will now use the National SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) Test with Uniform State Content, making it the 52nd state agency to adopt the test. Under the new process, Illinois licensees who pass the SAFE MLO Test with Uniform State Content no longer need to take an additional, state-specific test. IDFPR Secretary Bryan Schneider commented on the streamlined test process saying, “[b]y providing a more effective regulatory experience, we foster the creation of a regulatory environment conducive to strong economic growth and opportunity.”
On May 24, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced several new officers, including Charles G. Cooper, Commissioner of the Texas Department of Banking, who will serve as the chairman of the CSBS Board of Directors. In his new role, Cooper delivered remarks at the State-Federal Supervisors Forum on May 26, addressing the following current issues facing the banking industry: (i) community banking; (ii) cybersecurity; and (iii) financial services provided by non-depository institutions, commenting on the expansion of the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry to include check cashers, debt collectors, and money service businesses. Cooper emphasized the significance of community banks, stating, “[t]heir role in providing credit and banking services is just as important as that of the largest financial intuitions.” Observing the decline in the number of community banks, Cooper called on Congress to implement “right-size regulation through legislation,” and stressed that regulators “need to continue to right-size [their] regulatory and supervisory processes.” Regarding cybersecurity, Cooper mentioned the CSBS Executive Leadership on Cyber Security (ELOC) program, which is intended to “bring [the] cyber issue out of the backroom and into the Board room.” Finally, Cooper concluded by calling on state and federal regulators, including the newer CFPB and FinCEN agencies, to “commit to working better together.”
On May 24, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the Money Transmitter Regulators Association (MTRA) published a report titled “The State of State Money Services Businesses Regulation and Supervision.” According to the report, money services businesses (MSBs) are losing access to traditional banking services, with many banks “indiscriminately terminating the accounts of MSBs, or refusing to open accounts for any MSBs, thereby eliminating them as a category of customers.” Evidence suggests that banks are terminating or refusing to open MSB accounts partially because of the regulatory scrutiny surrounding the industry and the concern of BSA/AML risks. However, the report recognizes that MSBs are an important part of the financial system at large: “[MSBs], and specifically money transmitters, play a vital role in providing financial services to consumers and small businesses across the country. Countless Americans use MSBs every day to pay bills, purchase items online or send funds to family members and friends domestically and abroad.” Acknowledging the significant role MSBs play in providing financial services to U.S. households, the CSBS’ and MTRA’s report is intended to provide an outline of the states’ system of supervision of MSBs, highlighting that “state regulatory requirements are focused on consumer protection, safety and soundness and adherence to BSA/AML requirements and enforcement through state supervisory programs.”