On November 5, the SEC announced Bryan Bennett as head of its Los Angeles examination program. Bennett will oversee examiners, accountants, and attorneys based in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, and Guam. Bennett joined the SEC in 2008 and was later named manager, leading various teams in the investment adviser and investment company examination program. In January 2015, the SEC named Bennett the assistant director of the Los Angeles examination program. Prior to joining the SEC, Bennett was a litigator in private practice.
On November 12, the SEC named Marc Wyatt as the Director of the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) and the leader of the agency’s National Exam Program. When Andrew Bowden left the SEC in April 2015, Wyatt stepped in to serve as the agency’s Acting Director. Prior to joining the SEC in 2012, Wyatt was a principal and senior portfolio manager of a global multi-strategy hedge fund and a senior investment banker in both the U.S. and the U.K. In a separate November 13 announcement, the SEC appointed Sanket Bulsara as the Deputy General Counsel for Appellate Litigation and Adjudication, succeeding Michael A. Conley, who was appointed as SEC Solicitor. Former SEC Solicitor Jacob H. Stillman will continue to serve as senior advisor.
On November 3, the CFPB released its latest Supervisory Highlights report, which covers examination findings from May 2015 to August 2015. According to the report, which summarizes supervisory observations in the areas of consumer reporting, debt collection, mortgage origination, mortgage servicing, student loan servicing, and fair lending, recent non-public CFPB supervisory actions resulted in $107 million in restitution to more than 238,000 consumers. The report recognizes that certain efforts were made by institutions to improve compliance, including (i) mortgage servicers making improvements to their compliance audits and conducting information technology reviews; and (ii) student loan servicers alerting borrowers of unpaid balances remaining after borrowers attempt to pay off their loans but fall short. The report also discusses the CFPB’s revised exam appeals process, which includes changes to the supervisory appeals process originally outlined in Bulletin 2012-07. Among other things, the revised exam appeals process extends the expected time to issue a written decision on appeals from 45 to 60 days, and “[p]revents an institution from appealing adverse findings or an unsatisfactory rating related to a recommended or pending investigation or public enforcement action until the enforcement investigation or action has been resolved.”
On October 27, the OCC issued an updated Floor Plan Lending booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook. The revised booklet (i) summarizes the basics of floor plan lending for examiners, including a description of indirect dealer lending and the regulatory and legal foundation for floor plan lending; (ii) provides banks with sound risk management practices and describes regulatory risk rating guidelines; and (iii) includes an expanded examination procedures section with examples of risk rating cases and factors for determining the quantity of credit risk and the quality of credit risk management. The updated booklet replaces a similarly titled booklet issued in March 1990, as well as section 216 of “Floor Plan and Indirect Lending” issued in January 1994 as part of the former Office of Thrift Supervision’s Examination Handbook.
CSBS’ Multi-State Mortgage Committee: Mortgage Companies Must Comply with Technology-Based Examination Process
On September 29, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the Multi-state Mortgage Committee (MMC) released a bulletin titled, “Supervisory Expectations Regarding the Use of Electronic Examination Tools.” The bulletin explains the MMC’s use of electronic examination tools and the supervisory expectations for mortgage companies undergoing the state examination process. As a result of a 2008 initiative by the MMC, state regulators have been using technology to review loan transaction data for years, originally setting the expectation that companies fully participate with the process by 2011. According to the bulletin, however, “the mortgage industry has regularly failed to provide clean data in a format acceptable to the regulators’ technology platform.” As a result of this non-compliance, the MMC recommended that, going forward, state regulators take enforcement action against companies that are unable to provide accurate data in a timely fashion, so as to ensure a “more efficient and timely regulatory process.”
CFPB Updates Mortgage Origination Examination Procedures to Include Requirements of TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule
On May 4, the CFPB updated its Supervision and Examination Manual’s Mortgage Origination examination procedures to include guidance on how its compliance examiners will examine loan disclosures and terms of closed-end residential mortgage loans that are subject to the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule. The TRID examination procedures updates are reflected in module 4 of the Manual’s 8 modules, and instruct compliance examiners to review a sample of complete loan files to determine a company’s compliance. Further, if consumer complaints exist concerning the mortgage origination and closing disclosure requirements, then compliance examiners are permitted to interview the consumers included in the sample and inquire about each subject area listed in the module. The TRID rule is scheduled to go into effect August 1, 2015.
On March 2, OCC Comptroller Curry delivered remarks before the Institute of International Bankers regarding BSA/AML compliance obligations for financial institutions. During his remarks, Comptroller Curry emphasized that a top priority for the OCC has been to strengthen BSA/AML compliance at its supervised institutions. In this regard, the OCC has (i) modified its bank examination process so that BSA deficiencies receive proper emphasis in the evaluation of safety and soundness; (ii) focused on the BSA/AML risks posed by third-party relationships; (iii) required that institutions adequately resource their BSA/AML compliance programs; (iv) required institutions to assign accountability for BSA/AML compliance across all business lines presenting BSA/AML risk; and (v) taken enforcement action to enforce BSA/AML compliance when appropriate. Through his remarks, Comptroller Curry also addressed the need to improve the BSA/AML regulatory framework itself. Specifically, Comptroller Curry indicated that the OCC wanted (i) to streamline the SAR reporting process, (ii) to find better ways to use technology to advance BSA/AML goals, and (iii) to increase information sharing by creating safe harbors from civil liability both for financial institutions that file SARs and for financial institutions that share information about financial crimes with each other.
On February 8, New York DFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky announced that the DFS would begin (i) regularly examining insurance companies’ cyber security preparedness; (ii) enhancing regulations that will require insurance providers to meet higher standards of cyber security; and (iii) examining “stronger measures related to the representations and warranties insurance companies receive from third-party vendors.” Lawsky expects the targeted exams to begin in the “coming weeks and months.” The announcement was accompanied by the release of the state agency’s report on cybersecurity in the insurance industry.
On January 23, the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) announced a $2.5 million settlement with a national mortgage servicer for failing to provide loan information to the state regulator. According to the consent order, the company must also (i) pay an independent third-party auditor selected by the DBO to ensure the servicer provides all requested information to DBO; (ii) cover administrative costs associated with the case; and (iii) cease acquiring new mortgage servicing rights that include loans secured by California properties until the DBO is satisfied that the servicer can satisfactorily respond to certain requests for information and documentation made in the course of a regulatory exam.
On January 13, the SEC announced its Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations’ examination priorities for 2015. The examination priorities cover a wide range of financial institutions and focus on three areas: (i) protecting retail investors, especially those saving for or in retirement; (ii) assessing market-wide risks, including cybersecurity compliance and controls; and, (iii) using data analytics to identify signals of potential illegal activity. As to the risks to retail investors, the SEC noted that such investors are being sold products and services that were formerly characterized as alternative or institutional, including private funds, illiquid investments, and structured products. In addition, financial services firms are offering information, advice, products, and services to help retail investors plan for retirement. The SEC intends to assess the risks to retail investors that can arise from these trends.
On July 24, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed HB 5342, which amends numerous provisions of state law applicable to state banks and credit unions, including requiring the Illinois Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation to adopt formal rules that guarantee consistency and due process during the examination process of state-chartered banks. The bill also allows the Secretary to establish guidelines “that (i) define the scope of the examination process and (ii) clarify examination items to be resolved.” In addition, the bill provides that an existing loan secured by an interest in real estate shall not, under certain circumstances, require a new appraisal of the collateral during renewal, refinancing, or restructuring. The changes became effective immediately.
On July 29, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by voice voteH.R. 5062, a bipartisan bill that would amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act with respect to the supervision of nondepository institutions, to require the CFPB to coordinate its supervisory activities with state regulatory agencies that license, supervise, or examine the offering of consumer financial products or services. The bill declares that the sharing of information with such state entities does not waive any privilege claimed by nondepository institutions under federal or state law regarding such information as to any person or entity other than the CFPB or the state agency. The following day, the House Financial Services Committee approved numerous bills, including two mortgage-related bills. The first, H.R. 4042, would require the Federal Reserve Board, the OCC, and the FDIC to conduct a study to determine the appropriate capital requirements for mortgage servicing assets for any banking institution other than an institution identified by the Financial Stability Board as a global systemically important bank. The bill also would prohibit the implementation of Basel III capital requirements related to mortgage servicing assets for non-systemic banking institutions from taking effect until three months after a report on the study. A second bill, H.R. 5148, would exempt creditors offering mortgages of $250,000 or below from certain property appraisal requirements established by the Dodd-Frank Act.
On July 8, FINRA released a targeted examination letter it sent to 10 firms to assess their compliance with requirements related to order routing and execution quality of customer orders in exchange listed stocks during the period of January 1, 2014 to present. The letters include numerous requests for information, including requests that each firm explain: (i) how it uses reasonable diligence to ascertain the best market for orders that the firm routes for execution to an exchange, or broker-dealer, so that the resultant price is as favorable as possible for its customer under prevailing market conditions; (ii) how the firm’s exchange order-routing decisions are made for customer non-marketable, customer market, and marketable limit orders; and (iii) how the firm reviews the execution quality of such orders. The letters also include requests related to each firm’s use of the “Smart Order Router.”
On June 18, CFPB Deputy Director Steve Antonakes opened the CFPB’s first public Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting with remarks about implementation of the CFPB’s mortgage rules and the Bureau’s approach to enforcing those rules.
Over the past year, the CFPB has attempted to publicly outline and clarify its expectations for mortgage originators and servicers as those companies seek to comply with a host of new rules and requirements while continuing to face significant market challenges. The CFPB’s initial public position, particularly with regard to the new servicing rules, was that “in the early months” after the rules took effect, the CFPB would not look for strict compliance, but rather would assess whether institutions have made “good faith efforts” to come into “substantial compliance.” Read more…
On June 9, the House passed by voice vote H.R. 3211, the Mortgage Choice Act of 2013. The bill would amend TILA’s definition of “points and fees” for purposes of the CFPB’s Ability to Repay and HOEPA rules to exclude from the definition insurance held in impound accounts and amounts received by affiliated companies as a result of their participation in an affiliated business arrangement. The bill now moves to the Senate where a similar bill was introduced last year by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) but has not yet been considered by the Senate Banking Committee. Later in the week, the House Financial Services Committee approved numerous additional bills related to the CFPB, including: (i) H.R. 4804, which would establish certain requirements for CFPB examinations, including prohibiting the use of enforcement attorneys; (ii) H.R. 4811, which would establish standards for CFPB guidance, including a notice and comment period, and would declare the CFPB’s fair lending auto finance guidance to have no force or effect; and (iii) H.R. 3770, which would create an independent inspector general for the CFPB.