On December 17, the OCC announced the release of its semiannual report on key risk areas affecting the federal banking system. Specifically regarding community and midsize banks, the report identifies areas where the OCC intends to heighten its supervisory attention including, but not limited to, corporate governance, operational risk, cyber risk, and compliance risk, specifically related to fair lending and BSA/AML. Other notable takeaways from the report include continued improvement in the overall financial condition of community and midsize banks. However, the report also indicated that smaller banks, due to increased competition for loan demand and low investment yields, continue to experience pressure on earnings.
OCC Releases Semiannual Report Highlighting Key Risks Facing National Banks and Federal Savings Associations
Today, the OCC announced the release of its semiannual report, Semiannual Risk Perspective for Spring 2015, highlighting key risk areas affecting national banks and federal savings associations. Based on 2014 year-end data, the report identifies issues that pose a potential threat to the safety and soundness of banks and thrifts. It also sets forth the OCC’s supervisory priorities for the next 12 months, including, among others, (i) cybersecurity awareness and preventative controls, (ii) Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering compliance, (iii) fair access to credit, and (iv) underwriting practices, particularly with respect to leveraged loans, indirect auto lending, HELOCs, and credit related to the oil and gas sector. The report also notes declining revenues and profitability overall in OCC-supervised institutions.
On June 18, the OCC released its Semiannual Risk Perspective, which assesses risks facing national banks and federal savings associations with regard to: (i) the operating environment, (ii) condition and performance of the banking system, (iii) funding, liquidity, and interest rate risk, and (iv) regulatory actions. Among the many issues reviewed in the report, the OCC noted that cyber threats continue to grow in sophistication and require heightened awareness and appropriate resources to identify and mitigate the associated risks. It also stated that BSA/AML threats are increasing as a result of changing methods of money laundering and an increase in the volume and sophistication of electronic banking fraud, while compliance programs are failing to evolve or incorporate appropriate controls into new products and services.
On July 5, the OCC’s National Risk Committee issued its Semiannual Risk Perspective, which identifies issues that pose threats to the safety and soundness of banks. According to the report, the three major risks facing national banks and federal savings associations are (i) the lingering effects of a weak housing market, (ii) revenue challenges related to slow economic growth and market volatility, and (iii) the potential that banks may take excessive risks in an effort to improve profitability. Within each of the three major risk areas, the report identifies “key risk themes.” For example, with regard to the aftereffects of the housing market bust, the report observes as themes: (i) flaws in foreclosure processing that are exacting large remediation costs, record penalties, and reputational damage for mortgage servicers, (ii) continued above average rates of delinquency and charge-off for housing-related loans, and (iii) persistently high commercial real estate vacancy rates and high levels of problem assets. This is the first semiannual risk report published by the OCC; it is based on data as of December 31, 2011.