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Preparing OCC for the Future

American-flag-money-300x198In order to keep up with today’s in flux financial services landscape, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is in the midst of some significant organizational changes, according to remarks from the Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry.

Curry touched on several of the OCC’s recent developments at the 2017 National Community Reinvestment Coalition Conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday Morning. Taking up prominence in his speech was the agency’s Office of Innovation—a department created late last year to be the point of contact for questions and concerns in the FinTech space.

According to Curry, that office is currently being set up and, once fully standing, it “will conduct outreach and provide technical assistance, and will hold office hours in cities with significant interest in financial innovation to make candid regulatory advice more accessible.”

The department will also provide training to OCC employees to improve understanding of innovation and encourage collaboration with regulators.

In his speech, Curry also touched on the agency’s decision to afford FinTech companies national bank charters where applicable—specifically concerns that doing so could compromise the safety of consumers or the financial banking system itself.

“Our aim is to ensure that federally chartered banks offering financial solutions powered by innovative technology meet our expectations for compliance and fair access and operate in a safe and sound manner,” Curry said. “Our overarching goal is to ensure that 21st-century banks have 21st-century supervision.”

As such, the OCC has published a draft of a supplement the provides additional details on how FinTech charter applications will be evaluated, how the agency will supervise them, and the expectations the organizations must meet to ensure fair access for consumers. The supplement, Curry said, will require FinTechs to include a financial inclusion plan with their application. The OCC will accept comments on the supplement through April 14.

“Although the OCC typically does not solicit comments on procedural manuals and supplements such as this,” Curry said, “we wanted to remain consistent with our guiding principles of transparency and fostering open dialogue with stakeholders.”

Curry also discussed the agency’s new Compliance and Community Affairs department, which “brings together policy, supervision, and community outreach in the areas of consumer compliance, fair lending, Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering, and the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).”

CCA will have three divisions, Curry said: Compliance Risk, Compliance Supervision, and Community Affairs. They will work together seamlessly to support CRA efforts in banking across the nation.

“Already, this new business unit is making the CRA examination process more efficient and timely,” Curry said. “We have taken steps to implement the latest CRA guidance and provided training for our examiners as well as bankers and community organizations. A review of examination procedures is under way to identify policy and process improvements, and we are developing new examination tools to support more rigorous and transparent evaluations of CRA compliance.”

The agency has also revised its CRA Questions and Answers section in response to concerns about alternative credit-verification sources and published a community developments newsletter focused on multifamily housing.

Overall, Curry said the OCC’s recent changes will allow the agency to better respond to today’s financial services industry.

“The OCC has an organizational structure prepared to meet the supervisory challenges of the future,” he said. “We have sharpened our focus on compliance and consumer protection in a landscape of rapid technological change. We have broken new ground with enhanced compliance policies and enforcement to ensure that vulnerable consumers are treated fairly.”

About Author: Aly J. Yale

Aly J. Yale is a freelance writer and editor based in Fort Worth, Texas. She has worked for various newspapers, magazines, and publications across the nation, including The Dallas Morning News and Addison Magazine. She has also worked with both the Five Star Institute and REO Red Book, as well as various other mortgage industry clients on content strategy, blogging, marketing, and more.
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