The proposal seeks to make executive compensation arrangements more sensitive to risk and would require complex risk management programs to ensure compliance.

By Arthur S. Long, Pia Naib, and Deric Behar

On May 6, 2024, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) (collectively, the agencies) issued a joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (the Proposed Rule) to curb “excessive risk-taking” resulting from incentive-based compensation arrangements. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) did not join in the Proposed Rule.[1],[2] Critically, without the FRB’s participation, the Proposed Rule may not be finalized.

The Proposed Rule seeks to curtail incentives for certain financial services sector officers, employees, and directors to take inappropriate risks as a result of seeking excessive compensation, fees, or benefits. It uses a tiered approach based on asset size categories, where covered institutions (defined below) within the two largest asset size categories would be subject to prescriptive requirements related to the structure of their incentive-based compensation arrangements, including incentive award limits, deferral requirements, downward adjustments, forfeitures, and clawbacks.

The Proposed Rule re-proposes the regulatory text previously proposed in June 2016 (with a new preamble that acknowledges developments and supervisory learnings) and seeks additional feedback from commenters on potential alternatives to various provisions.

With regulators keeping close watch, the results underscore the need for ongoing climate risk management investment and adaptation within the financial sector.

By Betty M. Huber, Arthur S. Long, Pia Naib, and Deric Behar

On May 9, 2024, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB) published summary results of a pilot climate scenario analysis (CSA) that explored how resilient six of the largest US bank holding companies (by total assets) are to climate-related financial risks. The analysis is intended to help the FRB “learn about large banking organizations’ climate risk-management practices and challenges and to enhance the ability of large banking organizations and supervisors to identify, estimate, monitor, and manage climate-related financial risks.”

The CSA was first announced in September 2022, and was intended as an exploratory exercise. It does not therefore result in any capital or supervisory consequences for the participating financial institutions.

Banking agencies are alleged to have exceeded their congressional authorization, with potentially adverse consequences on banks and consumers.

By Arthur S. Long, Pia Naib, and Deric Behar

On February 5, 2024, several banking trade groups[1] (the Plaintiffs) sued the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) (collectively, the Agencies) in the US District Court for the Northern District

A recent bipartisan bill, if enacted, would particularly benefit small lenders and bank-fintech partnerships by promoting transparency, appellate rights, and examiner accountability.

By Arthur S. Long, Parag Patel, Barrie VanBrackle, Pia Naib, and Deric Behar

On December 14, 2023, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Fair Audits and Inspections for Regulators’ Exams Act (FAIR Exams Act), which seeks to increase transparency in the bank examination process. The proposed legislation would require examining agencies to act quickly and transparently, while creating an independent review and appeals process under the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC),[1] which would allow banks to seek independent review of material examiner findings.

A proposed rule would lower the maximum amount that large debit card issuers can charge merchants for each transaction.

By Arthur Long, Parag Patel, Barrie VanBrackle, and Deric Behar

On October 25, 2023, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB) published a proposal that would lower the maximum interchange fee — transaction fees that a merchant must pay to card issuers whenever a customer uses a debit card to make a purchase — that a debit card issuer can charge per transaction (the Proposal). The Proposal would apply only to issuers with at least $10 billion in total consolidated assets (covered issuers). It would also establish a process and formula for updating the maximum fee amount every other year going forward, based on data voluntarily reported by covered issuers to the FRB.

Guidance for the largest US financial institutions is intended to promote climate risk management consistent with general safety and soundness practices.

By Sarah E. Fortt, Betty M. Huber, Arthur S. Long, Pia Naib, Karmpreet (Preeti) Grewal, Austin J. Pierce, and Deric Behar

On October 30, 2023, the three US federal bank regulatory agencies — the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) (collectively, the Agencies) — jointly finalized Principles for Climate-Related Financial Risk Management for Large Financial Institutions (the Principles).

The Principles are intended to provide large financial institutions (i.e., those with $100 billion or more in total assets) with a high-level framework for understanding and managing exposures to climate-related financial risks, including physical[1] and transition[2] risks. Such “financial institutions” include national banks and federal thrifts, state member banks, FDIC-insured state nonmember banks and savings associations, bank holding companies, savings and loan holding companies, intermediate holding companies, branches, agencies and the combined US operations of non-US banking organizations, and any systemically important non-banks that may become supervised by the FRB.

After a lengthy “holistic” review and a spring banking crisis, US bank capital requirements finally face overhaul.

By Arthur S. Long, Pia Naib, Ja Hyeon Park, and Deric Behar

On July 10, 2023, US Federal Reserve Board (FRB) Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr delivered a speech that outlined his approach to regulatory reform after the FRB’s nine-month-long “holistic” review of capital standards in the wake of the spring 2023 US bank failures (for more information, see this Latham blog post).

Proposed changes will include strengthening capital standards for a broad range of US banks with assets over US$100 billion. The changes to capital requirements would come as a proposal to implement the final aspects of the Basel III capital accord (the so-called “Basel III Endgame”).

Governor Bowman calls for transparent supervisory expectations and attention to the consequences of regulatory reform on the broader financial system.

By Arthur S. Long, Pia Naib, Ja Hyeon Park, and Deric Behar

On June 25, 2023, US Federal Reserve Board (FRB) Governor Michelle W. Bowman gave a speech that outlined her views of the best path forward for regulatory reform in the wake of the spring 2023 US bank failures (for more information, see this Latham blog post). To achieve optimal supervisory results and preserve a dynamic banking sector, while minimizing unintended consequences, Governor Bowman cautioned against implementing higher capital requirements on banks based on incomplete information or erroneous assumptions. Instead, she recommended bolstering institutional risk management and the effectiveness of the FRB’s supervisory program.

President Biden is calling for tougher standards and supervision for large regional banks in the wake of recent instability in the US banking sector.

By Arthur S. Long, Pia Naib, and Deric Behar

On March 30, 2023, the White House issued a Fact Sheet calling on the federal banking agencies, the Federal Reserve Board (FRB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), in consultation with the Treasury Department, to safeguard the banking system by imposing stricter rules on certain financial institutions — mostly large regional banks with US$ 100-250 billion in assets.

Notably, the White House recommended that regulators reverse some of the deregulatory measures that the Trump Administration had enacted in 2018. The Fact Sheet argues that this weakening of safeguards and supervisory requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act led directly to recent banking industry failures and the resulting threat of contagion.

The decisive action will mitigate emerging liquidity and solvency risks, contain pressure on the banking system, and protect depositors.

By Arthur S. Long, Pia Naib, and Deric Behar

On March 12, 2023, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve) took a unanimous emergency step to protect the safety and soundness of the financial system from contagion risk following the second largest bank insolvency in US history. The move aims to “reduce stress across the financial system, support financial stability and minimize any impact on businesses, households, taxpayers, and the broader economy.”