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In just a few short weeks, COVID-19 has had far reaching impacts on public health and the global economy. Regulators overseeing banks and non-bank financial services companies are trying to maintain operations, adapt oversight models and promulgate COVID-19 crisis-specific directives and guidance. As with the crisis itself, these developments are fast-moving. We anticipate facts and details to change from day-to-day. Accordingly, we will track such developments on this page and report them regularly to you going forward. Set forth below is summary of the key issues agencies are addressing currently as well as a set of frequently asked questions and answers about agency operations.

Quick links:  CFPB | FDIC | FRB | HUD/FHFA | NCUA | OCC | State Regulators | FAQs

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

CFPB COVID-19 resource page

Rules under developmentSee March 20: Comment Period on State Debt Collection Rules Extended, below

March 24: Resources for Consumers

The CFPB has made consumer-focused information on the following topics available:

March 22: Regulators encourage financial institutions to work with affected borrowers (Press Release)

The Federal Reserve, FDIC, NCUA, OCC, CFPB, and CSBS made a joint statement that the “agencies will not criticize financial institutions that mitigate credit risk through prudent actions consistent with safe and sound practices. The agencies consider such proactive actions to be in the best interest of institutions, their borrowers, and the economy.” The statement specifically mentions loan modification programs, noting that they will not automatically be considered troubled debt restructurings. The joint statement also provides supervisory views on past-due and nonaccrual regulatory reporting of loan modification programs.

March 20: Comment Period on Stale Debt Collection Rules Extended

“The CFPB on Friday announced that it would extend the comment period for supplemental proposal for time-barred debt until June 5 due to the ‘challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.’ . . . The time-barred debt proposal would require debt collectors to disclose to consumers that a debt may be beyond legal statutes of limitations for collections if they ‘know or should know’ that to be the case.” (CFPB Delays Proposal on Stale Debts Due to Coronavirus, Bloomberg Law, March 20, 2020)

March 18: Statement regarding moratorium announced on foreclosures and evictions

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathleen L. Kraninger made the following statement today after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions:

The actions taken today by HUD and FHFA are timely and an important step in providing assurance to consumers. I commend my colleagues at HUD and FHFA for being proactive on this issue and providing Americans with much needed peace of mind during this uncertain time. . .’”

March 16: Guidance on consumer tools for financial protection from the impact of COVID-19

Resources for consumers to protect themselves and loved ones from the financial impacts of COVID-19, specifically regarding trouble paying bills or meeting other financial obligations; experiencing a loss of income; or being the target of a scammer.

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Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

FDIC COVID-19 resource page

FDIC efforts are focused on assuring consumers that their money is safe in FDIC-insured accounts.

Rules under development – activity appears to be ongoing

March 30: Flexibility in Part 363 Annual Report Filings (Press Release)

The FDIC “will not take supervisory action against any IDI for submitting its Part 363 Annual Report or its written notification of late filing as long as the annual report or notification of late filing is submitted within 45 days of the 90- or 120-day report filing deadline.”

March 27: Address by the FDIC Chairman (Press Release)

The FDIC Chairman “addressed the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), highlighting the agency's ongoing efforts to provide the necessary flexibility to both banks and their customers in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

March 22: Regulators encourage financial institutions to work with affected borrowers (Press Release)

The Federal Reserve, FDIC, NCUA, OCC, CFPB, and CSBS made a joint statement that the “agencies will not criticize financial institutions that mitigate credit risk through prudent actions consistent with safe and sound practices. The agencies consider such proactive actions to be in the best interest of institutions, their borrowers, and the economy.” The statement specifically mentions loan modification programs, noting that they will not automatically be considered troubled debt restructurings. The joint statement also provides supervisory views on past-due and nonaccrual regulatory reporting of loan modification programs.

March 19: Frequently Asked Questions for Financial Institutions and Bank Customers

The FDIC is providing two sets of FAQs, one for financial institutions and one for consumers.

Financial institutions are encouraged to work with borrowers who are vulnerable to the current economic volatility and affected small businesses and independent contractors. Prudent efforts to modify terms on loans for affected customers will not be subject to examiner criticism. Questions can be directed to the appropriate FDIC Regional Office.

Customers with questions about deposit insurance or accessing bank accounts can contact the FDIC at 1-877-ASK-FDIC.

March 19: FDIC Urges FASB to Delay Certain Account Rules (Press Release)

The FDIC urged FASB to exclude certain COVID-19-related modifications for certain debt restructuring purposes; permit a postponement of or moratorium on implementation of CECL.

March 19: Statement on Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Considerations (Press Release)

The FDIC, Federal Reserve, and OCC “will favorably consider retail banking services and retail lending activities in a financial institution’s assessment areas that are responsive to the needs of low- and moderate-income individuals, small businesses, and small farms affected by COVID-19 and that are consistent with safe and sound banking practices.”

Such responsive activities that may receive CRA consideration include:

  • Working with customers, which may include waiving ATM, overdraft, late payment, or early withdrawal fees and penalties; easing restrictions on cashing out-of-state and non-customer checks; increasing credit limits; expanding availability of short-term unsecured credit products; allowing deferred or delayed due dates.
  • Working to revitalize or stabilize low-, moderate-, distressed, and underserved geographies by supporting loans or assistance for digital access; loans or assistance for health care; assistance for small business operations; assistance for food supplies and service providers in certain communities

March 19: Interim Final Rule to Ensure Use of MMLF (Press Release)

The OCC, Federal Reserve, and FDIC “announced an interim final rule to ensure that financial institutions will be able to effectively use a liquidity facility recently launched by the Federal Reserve Board.”

March 18: Press release regarding the safety of insurance bank deposits

[T]he Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is reminding Americans that FDIC-insured banks remain the safest place to keep their money. The FDIC is also warning consumers of recent scams where imposters are pretending to be agency representatives to perpetrate fraudulent schemes. Since 1933, no depositor has ever lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds.”

March 18: Approval of Deposit Insurance Applications for Two Fintechs

The FDIC approved deposit insurance applications for Nelnet and for Square on March 18th, an indicator that business is proceeding.

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Federal Reserve Board

FRB COVID-19 resource page

Regulatory amendments – no recent activity

March 27: Actions to Support Lending to Households and Businesses

The Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC announced two actions:

They also issued an interim final rule allowing “banking organizations to mitigate the effects of the ‘current expected credit loss,’ or CECL, accounting standard in their regulatory capital.”

March 24: Changes in supervisory approach

The Federal Reserve will:

  • Temporarily reduce examination activities, particularly for small banks
  • Focus on monitoring and outreach
  • Grant additional time to resolve non-critical supervisory findings

Note that large banks should still submit CCAR capital plans by April 6.

March 24: Six-month delay for changes to intraday credit policy

The Federal Reserve announced a “six-month delay in the planned implementation of policy changes to procedures governing the provision of intraday credit to U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banking organizations.” Implementation will be postponed to October 1, 2020 instead of the initial effective date of April 1, 2020.

March 23: Changes to buffer requirements

The Federal Reserve announced an interim final rule to facilitate the use of firms' buffers to promote lending activity to households and businesses, with a gradual phase in of a firm’s total loss absorbing capacity buffer requirements.

March 23: Extensive new measures to support the economy announced

The Federal Reserve announced a commitment to using its full range of tools. Specific efforts include:

  • Purchasing Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities
  • Up to $300 billion in new financing for employers, consumers, and businesses
  • Establishing two credit facilities for large employers (PMCCF and SMCCF), one for consumers and businesses (TALF), and two for municipalities (MMLF and CPFF)

The Federal Reserve is also working to establish a Main Street Business Lending Program to support small-and-medium businesses

March 23: Federal Reserve Issues FOMC Statement

The Federal Reserve will continue to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions. The Committee will include purchases of agency commercial mortgage-backed securities in its agency mortgage-backed security purchases. In addition, the Open Market Desk will continue to offer large-scale overnight and term repurchase agreement operations.

March 22: Regulators encourage financial institutions to work with affected borrowers (Press Release)

The Federal Reserve, FDIC, NCUA, OCC, CFPB, and CSBS made a joint statement that the “agencies will not criticize financial institutions that mitigate credit risk through prudent actions consistent with safe and sound practices. The agencies consider such proactive actions to be in the best interest of institutions, their borrowers, and the economy.” The statement specifically mentions loan modification programs, noting that they will not automatically be considered troubled debt restructurings. The joint statement also provides supervisory views on past-due and nonaccrual regulatory reporting of loan modification programs.

March 20: MMLF Program Expanded to State and Municipal Monkey Market Mutual Funds (Press Release)

The Federal Reserve “will now be able to make loans available to eligible financial institutions secured by certain high-quality assets purchased from single state and other tax-exempt municipal money market mutual funds.”

March 19: Additional International Swap Lines to Increase Liquidity

Establishment of temporary U.S. dollar liquidity arrangements (swap lines) with the central banks of Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Korea, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, and Sweden (in addition to standing swap lines with the central banks of Canada, England, Japan, the European Union, and Switzerland).

March 19: Increase in Discount Window Borrowing

The Federal Reserve Board is encouraged by the notable increase in discount window borrowing this week with banks demonstrating a willingness to use the discount window as a source of funding to support the flow of credit to households and businesses.”

March 19: Interim Final Rule to Ensure Use of MMLF (Press Release)

The OCC, Federal Reserve, and FDIC “announced an interim final rule to ensure that financial institutions will be able to effectively use a liquidity facility recently launched by the Federal Reserve Board.”

March 18: Establishment of a Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility (MMLF)

Through the MMLF, the Federal Reserve “will make loans available to eligible financial institutions secured by high-quality assets purchased by the financial institution from money market mutual funds.”

March 17: Statement that banks are safer than in the past and interim final rule on use of capital buffers

  • A joint statement of the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC noting that “banks have more than doubled their capital and liquidity levels over the past decade and are now substantially safer and stronger than they were previously.”
  • An “interim final rule that, if a bank's capital declines by a certain amount, phases in the agencies' automatic distribution restrictions gradually . . . facilitate[ing] the use of firms’ capital buffers to promote lending activity to households and businesses.”

March 17: Establishment of a Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF)

The facility will allow primary dealers to support smooth market functioning and facilitate the availability of credit to businesses and households. The PDCF will offer overnight and term funding with maturities up to 90 days and will be available on March 20, 2020. It will be in place for at least six months and may be extended as conditions warrant. Credit extended to primary dealers under this facility may be collateralized by a broad range of investment grade debt securities, including commercial paper and municipal bonds, and a broad range of equity securities. The interest rate charged will be the primary credit rate, or discount rate, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

March 17: Establishment of a Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF)

The CPFF will provide a liquidity backstop to U.S. issuers of commercial paper through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that will purchase unsecured and asset-backed commercial paper rated A1/P1 (as of March 17, 2020) directly from eligible companies.”

March 16: Statement encouraging banks to use Federal Reserve discount window

Joint statement with the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC “encouraging banks to use the Federal Reserve's "discount window" so that they can continue supporting households and businesses. The discount window provides short-term loans to banks and plays an important role in supporting the liquidity and stability of the banking system.”

March 15: Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement

The Federal Open Market Committee “decided to lower the target range for the federal funds rate to 0 to 1/4 percent. The Committee expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.”

Additionally, “over coming months the Committee will increase its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $500 billion and its holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities by at least $200 billion. The Committee will also reinvest all principal payments from the Federal Reserve's holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities. In addition, the Open Market Desk has recently expanded its overnight and term repurchase agreement operations.”

March 15: Federal Reserve actions to support the flow of credit

The actions covered several topics:

  • Discount Window: The Board lowered the primary credit rate to 0.25 percent and announced that depository institutions may borrow for periods as long as 90 days
  • Intraday Credit: The Federal Reserve encourages utilization of intraday credit extended by Reserve Banks.
  • Bank Capital and Liquidity Buffers: The Federal Reserve encourages banks to use their capital and liquidity buffers, which are designed to support the economy in adverse situations and allow banks to continue to serve households and businesses.
  • Reserve Requirements: Reserve requirements reduced to zero percent, effect March 26.

March 15: Coordinated central bank action to enhance the provision of U.S. dollar liquidity

The central banks of Canada, England, Japan, Switzerland, the European Union, and the U.S. Federal Reserve announced “coordinated action to enhance the provision of liquidity via the standing U.S. dollar liquidity swap line arrangements. These central banks have agreed to lower the pricing on the standing U.S. dollar liquidity swap arrangements by 25 basis points, so that the new rate will be the U.S. dollar overnight index swap (OIS) rate plus 25 basis points.” U.S. dollars are also offered with an 84-day maturity in addition to the current 1-week maturity offered.

March 13: SR 20-4 / CA 20-3: Supervisory Practices Regarding Financial Institutions Affected by Coronavirus

Reference to earlier guidance (SR 13-6 / CA 13-3) encouraging flexibility: “In the event of a major disaster or emergency, the Federal Reserve encourages banking organizations to work with affected borrowers and other customers. Banking organizations' efforts to work with customers in communities under stress may contribute to the health and recovery of these communities. Such efforts serve the long-term interests of the affected banking organizations, provided such efforts are conducted in a reasonable manner with proper controls and management oversight, and are consistent with safe and sound banking practices.”

March 10: Interagency Statement on Pandemic Planning

A financial institution’s “business continuity plan(s) (BCP) should address pandemics and provide for a preventive program, a documented strategy scaled to the stages of a pandemic outbreak, a comprehensive framework to ensure the continuance of critical operations, a testing program, and an oversight program to ensure that the plan is reviewed and updated. The pandemic segment of the BCP must be sufficiently flexible to address a wide range of possible effects that could result from a pandemic, and also be reflective of the institution's size, complexity, and business activities.”

March 9: Agencies encourage financial institutions to meet financial needs of customers and members affected by coronavirus

Regulators note that financial institutions should work constructively with borrowers and other customers in affected communities. Prudent efforts that are consistent with safe and sound lending practices should not be subject to examiner criticism.”

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Federal Housing Finance Agency/Housing and Urban Development Department/Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae

FHFA COVID-19 resource page | Freddie Mac COVID-19 resource page | Fannie Mae COVID-19 resource page

Rules under development – no recent activity

March 23: Additional Liquidity in the Secondary Mortgage Market

The FHFA “has authorized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to enter into additional dollar roll transactions (dollar roll transactions provide mortgage-backed securities investors with short-term financing of their positions, providing liquidity to these investors).”

March 23: Flexibilities for Appraisal and Employment Verifications

“To allow for homes to be bought, sold, and refinanced as our nation deals with the challenges of the coronavirus, [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] will leverage appraisal alternatives to reduce the need for appraisers to inspect the interior of a home for eligible mortgages. In addition, in the event lenders cannot obtain verbal verification of the borrower's employment before loan closing, [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] will allow lenders to obtain verification via an e-mail from the employer, a recent year-to-date paystub from the borrower, or a bank statement showing a recent payroll deposit.”

March 23: Moves to Provide Eviction Suspension Relief for Renters in Multifamily Properties

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “will offer multifamily property owners mortgage forbearance with the condition that they suspend all evictions for renters unable to pay rent due to the impact of coronavirus. The eviction suspensions are in place for the entire duration of time that a property owner remains in forbearance.”

March 18: Suspension of Foreclosures and Evictions for Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Mortgages

The FHFA “directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to suspend foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days due to the coronavirus national emergency. The foreclosure and eviction suspension applies to homeowners with an Enterprise-backed single-family mortgage.”

For those whose ability to pay their eligible mortgage is impacted by COVID-19, they may be able to not incur late fees; not have delinquencies reported to credit bureaus; have foreclosure and other legal proceedings suspended – and additional assistance may be available at the end of the temporary relief period.

This announcement followed a request from the Housing and Urban Development Department for a moratorium on foreclosures for Federal Housing Administration-issued loans and relief from public housing authorities.

March 18: Timeline delay in capital framework rule announced

FHFA Director Mark Calabria said the agency will push back the timeline for overhauling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's capital framework.”

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National Credit Union Administration

NCUA COVID-19 resource page

March 27: Statement on CARES Act

The CARES Act “provides the NCUA Board with the power to expand access to and increase the borrowing authority for the Central Liquidity Facility. This will enhance its role as a liquidity backstop for the credit union system.”

Further notes that credit unions may provide guaranteed loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s paycheck protection program, and that the NCUA Board has the ability to increase share insurance coverage for noninterest-bearing transaction account.

March 23: Urgent Needs Grant Available (Press Release)

“Federally insured, low-income designated credit unions that experience unexpected costs as a result of COVID-19 can request urgent needs grants(opens new window) from the National Credit Union Administration.”

Credit unions may apply for grants or loans through the NCUA’s CyberGrants portal; they may also apply for loans supported by the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund.

March 22: Regulators encourage financial institutions to work with affected borrowers (Press Release)

The Federal Reserve, FDIC, NCUA, OCC, CFPB, and CSBS made a joint statement that the “agencies will not criticize financial institutions that mitigate credit risk through prudent actions consistent with safe and sound practices. The agencies consider such proactive actions to be in the best interest of institutions, their borrowers, and the economy.” The statement specifically mentions loan modification programs, noting that they will not automatically be considered troubled debt restructurings. The joint statement also provides supervisory views on past-due and nonaccrual regulatory reporting of loan modification programs.

March 19: Statement Regarding Safety of Federally Insured Credit Unions

Federally insured credit unions offer a safe place for credit union members to save money. All deposits at federally insured credit unions are protected by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, with deposits insured up to at least $250,000 per individual depositor. Credit union members have never lost a penny of insured savings at a federally insured credit union.”

March 18: FAQs Regarding COVID-19

Responses to frequently asked questions regarding credit union operations, available resources and flexibility, and oversight by the NCUA under pandemic circumstances.

March 16: NCUA Actions Related to COVID-19

The NCUA will be limiting examination and supervision work for the near term. “Examiners will work with credit union staff to facilitate the secure exchange of information needed to conduct offsite examination and supervision work, and will be mindful of the impact of information requests on any credit unions experiencing operational and staffing challenges associated with responding to COVID-19.”

The NCUA encourages credit unions to work with affected borrowers by waiving fees and penalties; easing restrictions on cashing checks; easing credit terms; increasing credit limits; offering payment accommodations. “[T]he NCUA’s examiners will not criticize a credit union’s efforts to provide prudent relief for members when such efforts are conducted in a reasonable manner with proper controls and management oversight.”

March 9: Agencies encourage financial institutions to meet financial needs of customers and members affected by coronavirus

Regulators note that financial institutions should work constructively with borrowers and other customers in affected communities. Prudent efforts that are consistent with safe and sound lending practices should not be subject to examiner criticism.”

March 6: Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) Pandemic Guidance (Press Release)

The FFIEC issued “updated guidance to remind financial institutions that their business continuity plans should address the threat of a pandemic outbreak and its potential impact on the delivery of critical financial services”

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Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

OCC COVID-19 resource page

Rules under development – no recent change; but see March 23: Interim Final Rule and Order on Short-Term Investment Funds, below.

March 27: Actions to Support Lending to Households and Businesses

The Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC announced two actions:

“As the situation develops, the OCC and other regulators will consider additional regulatory and supervisory actions to support the orderly function of banks in meeting the needs of their customers and the nation. In addition to the work we have done already, the agency continues to discuss other topics that are important to the industry and the nation, including small-dollar lending, CECL, and appraisals for commercial loans. We also want to be clear that banks have the flexibility and authority to adjust hours and provide alternative service options that meet customer needs and to manage their unique circumstances related to COVID-19.”

March 27: Early Adoption of Standardized Approach for Counterparty Credit Risk (Press Release)

The OCC, Federal Reserve, and FDIC issued an interim final rule allowing “banking organizations the flexibility to implement the SA-CCR rule, including the SA-CCR methodology and the other amendments described in the SA-CCR rule.”

March 27: Interim Final Rule: Current Expected Credit Losses (Press Release)

The OCC, Federal Reserve, and the FDIC “announced an interim final rule to delay the estimated impact on regulatory capital stemming from the implementation of” CECL.

March 23: Interim Final Rule and Order on Short-Term Investment Funds (Press Release; Previous Revision Press Release)

The OCC “announced an interim final rule (IFR) revising its short-term investment fund (STIF) rule for OCC-supervised banks acting in a fiduciary capacity. The IFR allows the OCC to authorize banks to temporarily extend maturity limits of these funds if the agency determines that sudden disruptions in the financial markets negatively affect the ability of banks to operate in compliance with maturity limits required by the STIF rule.”

March 23: Regulators encourage financial institutions to work with affected borrowers (Press Release)

The Federal Reserve, FDIC, NCUA, OCC, CFPB, and CSBS made a joint statement that the “agencies will not criticize financial institutions that mitigate credit risk through prudent actions consistent with safe and sound practices. The agencies consider such proactive actions to be in the best interest of institutions, their borrowers, and the economy.” The statement specifically mentions loan modification programs, noting that they will not automatically be considered troubled debt restructurings. The joint statement also provides supervisory views on past-due and nonaccrual regulatory reporting of loan modification programs.

March 20: Recommendation to Use Electronic Filings Submission

The OCC recommends using electronic methods to submit licensing filings due to COVID-19. “Submission of a licensing filing in paper form may result in delays in processing. To avoid any such delays, the OCC strongly recommends that licensing filings be submitted through the Central Application Tracking System (CATS) or through the agency’s secure email system.”

March 19: Statement on Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Considerations

The FDIC, Federal Reserve, and OCC “will favorably consider retail banking services and retail lending activities in a financial institution’s assessment areas that are responsive to the needs of low- and moderate-income individuals, small businesses, and small farms affected by COVID-19 and that are consistent with safe and sound banking practices.”

Such responsive activities that may receive CRA consideration include:

  • Working with customers, which may include waiving ATM, overdraft, late payment, or early withdrawal fees and penalties; easing restrictions on cashing out-of-state and non-customer checks; increasing credit limits; expanding availability of short-term unsecured credit products; allowing deferred or delayed due dates.
  • Working to revitalize or stabilize low-, moderate-, distressed, and underserved geographies by supporting loans or assistance for digital access; loans or assistance for health care; assistance for small business operations; assistance for food supplies and service providers in certain communities

March 19: Interim Final Rule to Ensure Use of MMLF (Press Release)

The OCC, Federal Reserve, and FDIC “announced an interim final rule to ensure that financial institutions will be able to effectively use a liquidity facility launched on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, by the Federal Reserve.”

March 19: FAQs on Use of Capital and Liquidity Buffers (Press Release)

The OCC, Federal Reserve, and FDIC released some questions and answers regarding liquidity buffers; capital buffers; recovery and resolution plan triggers; and total loss-absorbing capacity rule.

March 17: Statement that banks are safer than in the past and interim final rule on use of capital buffers (Press Release)

  • A joint statement of the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC noting that “banks have more than doubled their capital and liquidity levels over the past decade and are now substantially safer and stronger than they were previously.”
  • An “interim final rule that, if a bank's capital declines by a certain amount, phases in the agencies' automatic distribution restrictions gradually . . . facilitate[ing] the use of firms’ capital buffers to promote lending activity to households and businesses.”

March 16: Statement encouraging banks to use Federal Reserve discount window (Press Release)

Joint statement with the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC “encouraging banks to use the Federal Reserve's "discount window" so that they can continue supporting households and businesses. The discount window provides short-term loans to banks and plays an important role in supporting the liquidity and stability of the banking system.”

March 13: Banks encouraged to work with adversely affected customers

The OCC encourages banks to work with affected customers and communities . . . such efforts serve the long-term interests of communities and the financial system when conducted with appropriate management oversight and are consistent with safe and sound banking practices” and may include waiving ATM, overdraft, late payment, or early withdrawal fees and penalties; easing restrictions on cashing out-of-state and non-customer checks; increasing credit limits; expanding availability of short-term unsecured credit products; allowing deferred or delayed due dates; or modifying loans.

The OCC will also “consider the unusual circumstances these banks face when reviewing a bank’s financial condition and determining any supervisory response.”

March 6: Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) Pandemic Guidance (Press Release)

The FFIEC issued “updated guidance to remind financial institutions that their business continuity plans should address the threat of a pandemic outbreak and its potential impact on the delivery of critical financial services”

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State Regulators

Many states are taking action individually. The Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) is maintaining lists of guidance and communications from state financial regulators, and a list of state COVID-19 information pages.

List of Guidance/Communications from States Related to COVID-19

State guidance generally echoes federal guidance: financial institutions are encouraged to exercise flexibility and understanding for those impacted by COVID-19. Where it can be done safely and responsibly, actions like waivers of fees and penalties, increased credit limits, payment accommodations, and other flexible responses will be considered by regulators for supervisory and exam purposes in the context of the unusual circumstances.

Some states have made proscriptive decisions. For example, Kansas has ordered a suspension of all foreclosures and evictions (Executive Order No. 20-06, State of Kansas, March 17, 2020); Connecticut is permitting certain licensees to work remotely despite a requirement to have a branch office location license at each place of work (No Action Position Regarding Temporarily Working from Home Due to COVID-19, State of Connecticut Department of Banking, March 9, 2020)

New York has issued a series of circulars with guidance for regulated industries, including urging flexibility in these unusual conditions. For example, mortgage servicers have been asked to grant a 90-day no-action period (forbearing mortgage payments, refraining from reporting late payments, waiving late payment and online payment fees, etc) and lenders have been asked to assist New York businesses by reaching out to impacted customers, waiving fees, or offering other accommodations. Conversely, the New York Department of Financial Services has requested additional information from regulated institutions engaged in virtual currency business activity. Those entities must provide “a response to DFS describing the institution’s plan of preparedness to manage the risk of disruption to its services and operations.”

California has advised the financial industry that it will permit flexibility in working at locations that do not have branch licenses (that is, permitting employees to work from home) and encourages financial institutions to reach out to the Department of Business Oversight if it has concerns about reporting requirements or availability that may be affected by COVID-19. The state has, like many others, encouraged flexibility and understanding with respect to customer accounts and has also posted lists of the institutions offering relief from fees and charges; foreclosures; credit score impacts for accessing relief; and a grace period of up to 90 days for all mortgage payments.

Many other states, including Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, and Texas have also encouraged financial institutions to provide assistance and flexibility to customers impacted by COVID-19 and expressed their intent to take current conditions into consideration with respect to their supervisory and oversight responsibilities.

List of State COVID-19 Pages

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Frequently Asked Questions

How are regulators operating currently?

As of this draft, the agencies discussed herein remain open and are conducting normal operations. Most have mandated teleworking for the vast majority of staff, in line with guidance from the White House. Staff travel is prohibited at some agencies and limited to essential domestic travel in others. We anticipate some delays in service as agencies transition to a remote environment, but have seen continued communications throughout this time period.

How are regulators communicating updates?

Regulators are utilizing their websites and press releases to provide updated information on their responses to COVID-19. The situation is changing day-by-day, and we anticipate regulators working to keep up with changes as they happen. Depending on the duration of this pandemic, regulators will need to adjust their guidance to make sure financial institutions, businesses, and individuals can meet their needs within safety and soundness requirements.

How can we get news about regulatory developments?

Keep an eye on this page – we will be updating periodically with news from the financial regulators.

I have an upcoming supervisory examination. What can I expect?

Agencies are adjusting their supervision and exams to be responsive to the current situation:

  • The FDIC has encouraged examiners to work remotely to the extent possible
  • The NCUA will be limiting examinations and supervision for the near term
  • The Federal Reserve will temporarily reduce examination activities, particularly for small banks, to focus on monitoring and outreach 
  • The CFPB will coordinate to minimize disruption and burden and consider the circumstances when determining whether to take enforcement action

While regulators plan on continuing examinations (the OCC noted that examinations are particularly relevant given the current market volatility), they are open to case-by-case requests to delay an examination while banks implement business continuity plans in response to the pandemic and local guidance.

The Federal Reserve has also stated they will grant additional time to resolve currently existing non-critical supervisory findings, and the CFPB is delaying certain reporting requirements.

I applied for a state license and I haven’t heard back yet. What should I do?

Many state regulators are transitioning to telework/remote work at this time. We anticipate some delays as people figure out how to work differently and get systems in place. Let us know if you have a specific question and we can reach out to the appropriate regulator. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is likely “be patient” given the circumstances.

Is my business considered an “essential service” that is exempt from mandatory closure?

States have varying definitions for “essential services,” many based on federal guidance for Essential Critical Infrastructure. There is currently no unifying federal definition of what is considered an essential service, but states have begun publishing their own lists. Generally, banks and financial institutions are considered essential services. See below for a selection of state lists:

What is [other financial institution] doing in response to COVID-19?

The Bank Policy Institute put together a list of online resources compiled by financial institutions. It can be accessed at https://bpi.com/coronavirus/.

I have questions about how to stay healthy during the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a website with up-to-date information about best practices to protect yourself and your community throughout the pandemic. It can be accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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This document provides a general summary and is for information/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be comprehensive, nor does it constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought before taking or refraining from taking any action.