April 2023 financial reporting, governance, and risk management

| 4/19/2023
April 2023 financial reporting, governance, and risk management

Message from John Epperson, Managing Principal, Financial Services

Dear FIEB readers,

Risk or opportunity – recent market events could be either. Effective financial reporting, governance, and risk management can make the difference. As we head into the second quarter, we cover interest-rate risk statistics, final small-business lending rules, guidance on abusive acts, frequently asked questions about the Federal Reserve’s Bank Term Funding Program, and announcements about new offices and services from the federal financial institution regulators. We also bring you updates from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in the form of final standards on related-party leases and tax credit investments and a proposed standard on certain crypto assets. Broker-dealers, national securities exchanges, and others will be interested in rule proposals from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on electronic filings and cybersecurity risk this month, while all SEC stakeholders might be curious about the SEC chair’s budget request testimony. Finally, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) released its annual report, among other activities.

We hope spring has sprung in your area and you have enjoyed a season of renewal. We look forward to keeping you informed in the coming months.

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Matters of importance from the federal financial institution regulators

OCC issues semiannual interest-rate risk report

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) on April 12, 2023, released its spring 2023 “Interest Rate Risk Statistics Report.” The report provides interest-rate risk statistics and limits for different midsize and community bank populations, which were gathered during OCC examinations. The report is intended as a stakeholder resource and not as guidance about OCC-suggested risk exposures or limits.

CFPB issues final small-business lending data rule

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on March 30, 2023, released a final rule implementing Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Section 1071 amended the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to require financial institutions to collect and report certain credit application data for small businesses, including women-owned and minority-owned small businesses. The final rule, which covers closed-end loans, lines of credit, business credit cards, online credit products, and merchant cash advances, applies to banks, credit unions, and nonbank lenders. Under the final rule, a small business is defined as one with gross revenue under $5 million in the preceding fiscal year.

The final rule is effective 90 days after publication in the Federal Register; however, the rule contains tiered compliance dates that vary depending on the number of covered originations a financial institution had in 2022 and 2023. Financial institutions that originated at least 2,500 covered loans in both 2022 and 2023 must begin collecting data and complying with the final rule on Oct. 1, 2024. Financial institutions that originate at least 500 covered loans in both 2022 and 2023 but fewer than 2,500 loans in each of those years and also originate at least 100 loans in 2024 must begin data collection by April 1, 2025. Lastly, a financial institution must begin complying with the final rule on Jan. 1, 2026, if it originated at least 100 covered originations in both 2024 and 2025.

Along with the final rule, the CFPB issued a policy statement noting that it intends to focus its oversight on ensuring that lenders do not discourage small-business loan applicants from providing responsive data, including demographic information about their ownership. The bureau also issued a fact sheet and executive summary of the 880-plus-page rule. On April 5, the CFPB also established a help line to provide oral and written assistance to financial institutions regarding their data collection and reporting obligations under its final rule. Additional compliance resources are available on the CFPB website.

CFPB provides guidance to define abusive acts

The CFPB on April 3, 2023, issued a policy statement to clarify what constitutes abusive acts or practices as defined by the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010. The new CFPB guidance summarizes previous actions to enforce the abusiveness standard and offers insight into how the bureau, under its current leadership, plans to analyze the statutory elements of abusiveness to identify violative acts or practices. In the policy statement, the CFPB lists two categories it finds generally abusive:

  • Actions that obscure important features of a product or service
  • Actions that take unreasonable advantage of consumers in certain circumstances

In the policy statement the CFPB notes that institutions may not take “unreasonable advantage” of consumers’ lack of understanding of the risks, costs, or conditions of a product or service; consumers’ inability to protect their interests in using or selecting a consumer financial product or service; or consumers’ reasonable reliance that the institution will act in the consumers’ interest. The CFPB further asserts that advantages can include market share, revenue, cost savings, profits, reputational benefits, and other operational benefits. The policy statement will be published in the Federal Register and does not indicate that it is proposed guidance, even though public comments will be received until July 3, 2023.

OCC establishes Office of Financial Technology

The OCC announced on March 30, 2023, the creation of the Office of Financial Technology (OFT) and selected Prashant Bhardwaj to lead the office as deputy comptroller and chief financial technology officer, effective April 10, 2023. In October 2022 the OCC announced plans to expand its Office of Innovation to bolster the agency’s expertise and ability to adapt to rapidly changing technology in the banking industry. In the March 30 release, the OCC said the OFT “broadens the OCC’s focus in this area and ensures the agency’s leadership and agility in providing high-quality supervision of bank-fintech partnerships.” In this new role, Bhardwaj will lead a team responsible for analysis, evaluation, and discussion of relevant fintech trends, emerging and potential risks, and the potential implications for OCC supervision.

Federal Reserve issues FAQ on Bank Term Funding Program

The Federal Reserve Board (Fed) on March 13, 2023, released a set of frequently asked questions on its recently announced Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP). The program is designed to provide an additional source of liquidity by permitting eligible banks to borrow against the high-quality securities pledged as collateral. The questions cover the design of the program, including how it differs from the Fed’s discount window borrowing; program eligibility and documentation; eligible collateral; rates, fees, and maturities; and other mechanics of the program.

Fed announces July launch for FedNow

The Fed announced on March 15, 2023, that the FedNow instant payments service will begin operating in July 2023. The Fed began the formal certification of participants the first week of April in preparation for the launch of the service. Beginning in June, early adopters will complete a robust testing and certification program to prepare for sending live transactions through the system. The testing period will include a defined operational readiness and network experience during which the Fed and certified participants will conduct product validation activities prior to the July launch.

FinCEN releases guidance on upcoming beneficial ownership reporting

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) on March 24, 2023, published the initial set of materials to aid the public and small businesses in understanding upcoming beneficial ownership information reporting requirements scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. The materials include an FAQ, one-pagers related to filing dates and questions, an introductory video, and a detailed informational video. The Corporate Transparency Act, part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, established uniform beneficial ownership information reporting requirements and authorized FinCEN to collect the information and disclose it to authorized government authorities and financial institutions, subject to effective safeguards and controls. The regulations will require many corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities created in or registered to do business in the U.S. to report information about their beneficial owners (the persons who ultimately own or control the company) to FinCEN. Details and related resources are on the FinCEN website.

From the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)

FASB expands proportional amortization method for tax credit investments

On March 29, 2023, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2023-02, “Investments – Equity Method and Joint Ventures (Topic 323): Accounting for Investments in Tax Credit Structures Using the Proportional Amortization Method (a Consensus of the Emerging Issues Task Force),” to expand use of the proportional amortization method of accounting to equity investments in tax credit programs beyond those in low-income-housing tax credit (LIHTC) programs. The ASU allows entities to elect the proportional amortization method, on a tax-credit-program-by-tax-credit-program basis, for all equity investments in tax credit programs meeting the eligibility criteria in Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 323-740-25-1.

The ASU provides clarifications to address existing interpretive issues and prescribes specific information that entities must disclose each period.

The ASU is effective for periods beginning after Dec. 15, 2023, for public business entities. For all other entities, the ASU is effective for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2024. Early adoption is permitted, including early adoption in any interim period as of the beginning of the fiscal year that includes that interim period. Entities will have the option of applying the revisions using either a modified retrospective or retrospective adoption approach.

For more detail, please read the Crowe article “FASB ASU Improves Income Tax Credit Investment Accounting.”

FASB amends related-party lease accounting

On March 27, 2023, the FASB issued ASU 2023-01, “Leases (Topic 842) – Common Control Arrangements,” to provide a practice expedient for common control leasing arrangements.

The amendments allow a private company to elect to account for a common control leasing arrangement using the written terms and conditions without having to determine if those terms and conditions are legally enforceable. If the terms of the arrangement are not in writing, then the entity would apply existing guidance to determine the legally enforceable terms and conditions of the arrangement.

Additionally, the amendments require leasehold improvements associated with leases between entities under common control to be amortized over the useful life of the improvements until the lessee ceases to control the use of the underlying asset through a lease, at which time the remaining value of the leasehold improvement would be accounted for as a transfer between entities under common control.

The ASU is effective for all entities for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2023, including interim periods within those fiscal years. Early adoption is permitted.

More details on the amendments can be found in the Crowe article “FASB Amends Related-Party Lease Accounting.”

FASB proposes guidance on accounting for crypto assets

On March 23, 2023, the FASB issued a proposed ASU, “Intangibles – Goodwill and Other – Crypto Assets (Subtopic 350-60): Accounting for and Disclosures of Crypto Assets,” that would require entities to account for holdings of certain crypto assets at fair value.

Holdings of crypto assets would be measured at fair value at each reporting date with changes in fair value recorded through earnings. Also, the proposal would require extensive disclosure about crypto assets measured at fair value, including an annual rollforward of an entity’s crypto asset holdings. Entities would adopt using a modified retrospective approach, recording a cumulative effect adjustment to equity (or net assets) as of the beginning of the year of adoption. Early adoption would be permitted.

More details can be found in the Crowe article “FASB Proposes Fair Value for Crypto Assets.”

Comments are due June 6, 2023.

From the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Chair testifies on budget request

On March 29, 2023, SEC Chair Gary Gensler testified before the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. Gensler provided thoughts on how the SEC’s recent work, changes in the capital markets, and other matters support the SEC’s 2024 fiscal year budget request.

SEC issues statement on nontransparent exchange-traded funds

Staff from the Division of Investment Management issued a March 29, 2023, statement clarifying how nontransparent exchange-traded funds should present the required risk legend in digital advertisements.

SEC releases proposal to require electronic filings

On March 22, 2023, the SEC released proposed electronic filing requirements, including structured data, for certain Exchange Act forms, filings, and other submissions that currently are filed in paper form. The proposal affects national securities exchanges, national securities associations, clearing agencies, broker-dealers, security-based swap dealers, and major security-based swap participants. The proposal also includes changes to Financial and Operational Combined Uniform Single (FOCUS) reports and affects withdrawal notices for certain dealing transactions related to determining whether a person is a securities-based swap dealer.

Comments are due May 22, 2023.

SEC proposes requirements to address cybersecurity risks

The SEC on March 15, 2023, released for public comment proposed requirements for broker-dealers, clearing agencies, major security-based swap participants, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, national securities associations, national securities exchanges, security-based swap data repositories, security-based swap dealers, and transfer agents to address their cybersecurity risks.

Under the proposal, these entities would have to implement policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to address their cybersecurity risks. In addition, the design and effectiveness of the cybersecurity policies and procedures, including whether they keep up with changes in cybersecurity risk over the review time period, would have to be assessed annually. New notification requirements included in the proposal are designed to improve the SEC’s ability to obtain information about significant cybersecurity incidents affecting these entities. Additionally, the proposal includes disclosure requirements to improve transparency about the cybersecurity risks that can cause adverse impacts to the U.S. securities markets.

Comments are due June 5, 2023.

SEC reopens comment periods

To provide additional time to analyze other regulatory developments, on March 15, 2023, the SEC reopened the comment period on the cybersecurity risk management for investment advisers and funds proposal, issued on Feb. 9, 2022. Under the proposal, investment advisers and funds would be required to adopt written cybersecurity policies, report significant cybersecurity events to the SEC on a new confidential form, publicly disclose certain cybersecurity events, and implement certain recordkeeping policies.

Comments are due May 22, 2023.

On April 14, 2023, the SEC provided supplemental information and reopened the comment period on its January 2022 proposed amendments to the definitions of exchange and alternative trading systems.

Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

From the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB)

PCAOB releases annual report

The PCAOB published its “2022 Annual Report” on April 5, 2023. The report summarizes the PCAOB’s operations and financial results for fiscal year 2022 and highlights accomplishments and developments for the year for each of the PCAOB’s four strategic goals. These goals include modernizing standards, enhancing inspections, strengthening enforcement, and improving organizational effectiveness. Additionally, the report includes audited financial statements, a financial review, and management’s report on internal control over financial reporting.

PCAOB announces new director of Division of Enforcement and Investigations

On March 22, 2023, the PCAOB announced the appointment of Robert Rice as director of the Division of Enforcement and Investigations, effective March 31, 2023. He replaces acting Director Mark Adler, who retired. Rice has more than 30 years of experience in white-collar litigation and investigations, and he most recently served as special counsel to the U.S. attorney in New Jersey.

PCAOB holds advisory group meetings

The PCAOB Investment Advisory Group (IAG) met on March 9, 2023. Discussion topics included fraud, opportunities and challenges of auditing digital assets, and the format and content of inspection reports and data.

The Standards and Emerging Issues Advisory Group (SEIAG) met on March 30, 2023, and discussed comments received on the proposals on a firm’s system of quality control and the auditor’s use of confirmation. Additionally, the SEIAG discussed going concern, substantive analytical procedures, and the post-implementation review of critical audit matters and estimates and specialists.

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