Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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As we have discussed earlier, the FDIC has revised the brokered deposit/interest rate restrictions to create a presumption in favor of a “national deposit rate” starting January 1, 2010. Under this new rule, financial institutions that are less than well capitalized will be barred from paying in excess of 75 basis points above the national rate unless the institution is able to persuade the FDIC that the institution’s local market rate is above the national rate. As noted earlier, we anticipate that the presumption in favor of the national rate will be difficult to overcome.

On November 3, 2009, the FDIC issued Financial Institution Letter 62-2009 and Frequently Asked Questions that provide new guidance for financial institutions that would prefer to use a prevailing rate for their local market area instead of the new national rate. As described in its publication, the FDIC envisions a two-step process for financial institutions seeking to use a local rate basis. A financial institution that believes it is operating in a market area with deposit rates that are, on average, higher than the national rates must first request and receive a determination from the FDIC that it is operating in a high-rate area; the FDIC anticipates providing additional guidance explaining how banks can seek this threshold determination later this year. However, regardless of whether a financial institution receives such a determination from the FDIC, the new national rates will apply to all deposits outside the market area.

Should the FDIC provide a “high-rate area” determination to the financial institution, the bank or thrift must then calculate the effective rates for its local market. As today’s guidance makes clear, the prevailing rate in the applicable market area is the average of rates offered by other FDIC-insured depository institutions and branches in the geographic market area in which the deposits are being solicited. This prevailing rate includes not only other competing financial institutions, but also individual branches; in other words, a financial institution must determine the effective yield paid by each branch in its market area in order to correctly calculate the prevailing rate for its local market. This average must exclude the rate offered by the subject financial institution. The FDIC noted in its guidance that when an institution is calculating its prevailing market rate, before or after January 1, 2010, it must calculate this rate using the rates of all branches within its local market area. The FAQ provide several sample calculations.

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Monday, November 2, 2009
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The FTC announced over the weekend that, at the request of members of Congress, the compliance date for the Red Flags Rule is now delayed to June 1, 2010. This gives companies additional time to prepare their required Red Flags Rule Plans. The FTC has said it will continue to provide guidance on the development and implementation of these Plans, especially for companies who want to voluntarily adopt identity theft protection measures for the benefit of their customers and business reputation (Click here for the FTC’s Red Flags Rule website). This delay does not affect any other agency oversight or other federal regulations relating to data security and identity theft.

On a related note, a federal court (District of Columbia) issued the first ruling regarding the application of the Red Flags Rule on October 30, 2009. That decision held that the FTC may not apply the Red Flags Rule to attorneys. This case (and any appeals) are independent of the June 1, 2010 delay, but companies should keep an ear out for other decisions that may directly affect their industry.

Sunday, November 1, 2009
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Regulators and financial institutions have been trying for some time now to come to an understanding of what type of how workout strategies affect the classification of loans and the corresponding impact on estimates of loan losses. On October 30 the federal banking regulators published guidance on prudent commercial real estate loan workouts that addresses these issues. The guidance addresses some of the most contentious areas of disagreement between banks and examiners.  One of those areas is the impact of a decline in value of collateral in situations where the borrower or guarantors have the ability to service the loan. The new guidance tells examiners that renewed or restructured loans to borrowers who have the ability to repay their debts according to reasonable modified terms will not be subject to adverse classification solely because the value of the underlying collateral has declined to an amount that is less than the loan balance. This is a significant change from the manner in which examiners have been classifying acquisition and development loans in the past and time will tell exactly how the examiners will in fact deal with such loans in the future.

A problem loan workout can take many forms, including a renewal or extension of loan terms, extension of additional credit, or a restructuring with or without concessions.  The key to any loan workout is that the renewal or restructuring should improve the lender’s prospects for repayment of principal and interest and be consistent with sound banking, supervisory, and accounting practices.

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Friday, October 30, 2009
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FinCEN’s New Bank Secrecy Act Compliance Outreach Initiative Targeted at Depository Institutions With Assets Under $5 Billion

Yesterday FinCEN announced a new outreach initiative targeted at depository institutions with assets under $5 billion. The outreach initiative builds upon knowledge FinCEN previously gained from its meetings with larger financial institutions. As part of its ongoing outreach efforts, FinCEN is now seeking to engage smaller to moderate size depository institutions who are working to implement the four pillars of the Bank Secrecy Act regulatory regime: (1) policies, procedures and internal controls; (2) designation of a compliance officer; (3) ongoing training; and (4) independent testing.

For more information, please read the client alert published by Bryan Cave LLP’s Financial Institutions Client Service Group on October 15, 2009.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009
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We are aware of several fraudulent emails circulating purporting to be from the FDIC.  Subject lines include: “FDIC has officially named your bank a failed bank” and “FDIC Alert: you need to check your Bank Deposit Insurance Coverage.”

These e-mails and the associated Web site are fraudulent. Recipients should consider the intent of these e-mails as an attempt to collect personal or confidential information, some of which may be used to gain unauthorized access to on-line banking services or to conduct identity theft.

The FDIC does not issue unsolicited e-mails to consumers. Financial institutions and consumers should NOT follow the link in the fraudulent e-mail.

The FDIC has released a special alert confirming that these announcements are not from the FDIC.

The official FDIC website does contain useful information if you have questions about FDIC insurance; alternatively, we encourage you to contact your bank if you have questions about whether your deposited funds are insured.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009
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Barring some last minute legislative/regulatory activity, the FTC will expect companies to be red flags rule compliant as of November 1, 2009.  Companies should recognize that there is not a “one size” approach to addressing identity theft risks in making a Red Flags Rule Plan.  Instead, the FTC expects each company’s plan to be tailored to its own needs and circumstances.   Click here for help on steps your company can take.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009
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On September 29, 2009, the FDIC announced a proposed rule that would require institutions to prepay on December 30, 2009, an estimated quarterly risk-based assessments for the 4th quarter of 2009 and for all 2010, 2011, and 2012.   For a synopsis, see our prior summary of the proposed rule. Comments to the proposed rule are due by October 28, 2009.

Tax Treatment of Prepayments

The general rule is that prepayments that benefit more than one taxable period cannot be deducted in full, but must be deducted over the periods for which the benefits are obtained.  Thus, a payment of 3 years worth of insurance premiums cannot be deducted in a single tax year regardless of whether the institution is an S corporation or a C corporation.  The rule also is the same for cash method taxpayers, with one limited exception.  A cash method taxpayer can prepay up to 12 months of expenses and claim a deduction when paid.  For example, an institution could prepay its 2010 insurance premiums in December of 2009 and claim the deduction in 2009.  However, if the institution prepaid 3 years worth of insurance premiums in 2009, it could not deduct the entire amount paid.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009
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As a reminder, the FDIC has extended the Transaction Account Guarantee portion of the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program until June 30, 2010.  Institutions that have not previously opted-out of the program will automatically continue in the program (at increased costs) unless they pro-actively opt-out of the extension.

Starting January 1, 2009, the FDIC assessment for its full guarantee of funds held in non-interest bearing demand deposit accounts will rise to an annualized rate of 15 to 25 basis points, depending on the Risk Category rating of the institution.

The deadline to affirmatively opt out of the Transaction Account Guarantee program is November 2, 2009. We have previously posted information about how to opt out.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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On October 21, 2009, President Obama announced the broad outlines of a new program to provide additional capital to community banks in an effort to spur lending to smaller business.

Actual facts about the new program are currently very sparse.  A review of the currently available information does provide some details that may be attractive to community banks that current have TARP CPP funds, as well as those that currently do not have funds.  However, it does not appear that there will be any change in the Treasury’s determination of which community banks are eligible for TARP funds; participating institutions appear to still need to be viable without the funds.

There are three basic sources of official information:

  1. the text of President Obama’s speech in Landover, Maryland;
  2. the press release announcing the speech; and
  3. a fact sheet on the President’s Small Business Lending Initiatives.

Known Facts

  • The funds will be available to “viable banks with less than $1 billion in assets.”  The announcement does not give any indication that the Treasury will alter its existing viability standards.
  • Participants will be required to submit a small business lending plan explaining how the additional capital will allow them to increase lending to small businesses, and will be required to submit quarterly reports detailing their small business lending activities.
  • The initial dividend rate will be 3% rather than the 5% required under the current TARP Capital Purchase Program.  The dividend will rise to 9% after five years, consistent with the existing TARP Capital Purchase Program.  Presumably, Subchapter S institutions will receive a comparable reduction in the rate paid on the subordinated debt.
  • The amount of capital is limited to 2% or the institution’s risk-weighted assets.  This is less than the 3% permitted under the existing TARP Capital Purchase Program, and less than the 5% currently permitted for institutions that are less than $500 million in total assets.
  • The Treasury is working to finalize program terms “in the coming weeks.”
  • The Treasury will also determine how to handle existing Capital Purchase Program participants to allow them to replace existing capital with investments under the new program (effectively reducing their dividend costs in exchange for a commitment to increase small business lending).
  • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), including CDFI credit unions, will be able to apply for funds with a dividend rate of 2% for eight years, after which it will increase to 9%.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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FinCEN has announced a new outreach effort targeted at depository institutions under $5 billion in total assets to determine how these institutions comply with the Bank Secrecy Act and the specific compliance hurdles they confront.   If your institution has assets under $5 billion, please see our client alert about FinCEN’s outreach proposal.

As part of its ongoing outreach efforts, FinCEN is now seeking to engage smaller to moderate size depository institutions who are working to implement the four pillars of the Bank Secrecy Act regulatory regime: (1) policies, procedures and internal controls; (2) designation of a compliance officer; (3) ongoing training; and (4) independent testing.